In recent years, social protection emerged as a strong and effective policy tool to tackle poverty, mitigate effects of economic shock, support pro-poor and inclusive economic growth, and ultimately achieve progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many countries around the world, particularly developing countries, have implemented social protection programmes that have shown great success in reducing poverty and inequality as well as in improving many social indicators in nutrition, education, health and overall improvements in living standards and human capital development. In Nigeria, the country’s recent strong economic growth has not served to substantially reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment, especially among the youth. Against this background, the Government of Nigeria, together with developmental partners and other stakeholders have sought to develop social protection policies and implement interventions to tackle the country’s high rates of poverty and vulnerability. In the NSPP, Social Protection is defined as: A mix of policies and programmes designed for individuals and households throughout the life cycle to prevent and reduce poverty and socio-economic shocks by promoting and enhancing livelihoods and a life of dignity.
This commitment has been demonstrated in the recently approved National Social Protection Policy (NSPP), driven by the Federal Ministry and Budget and National Planning (MBNP) the budgetary commitment of five billion Naira annually by the Federal Government to Social Investments; and the design of the National Social Safety-Nets Project (NASSP). These commitments are aimed at dedicating national resources to improve the lives of the citizens of the country and strengthen the role of social protection in helping to distribute resources more broadly. In line with this and to ensure proper coordination and support to NASSP, the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) was established within the Office of the Vice President under the supervision of the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Program. One of the mandates of NASSCO is to set up standards to support Social Safety-Nets interventions in the country amongst others.
2. SOCIAL PROTECTION CROSS-LEARNING SUMMIT (SPECS -2019)
In March 2016 a high-level multi-stakeholder consultative summit on social protection investments and learnings titled “Social Protection Cross-Learning Summit (SPECS)” was held in Abuja, Nigeria. One of the key outputs of SPECS-2016 was the initiation of an articulated reform agenda for the social protection sector by the Federal Government as a means to ensuring that the present unacceptable levels of poverty within the country are reduced to the barest minimum. As a follow-on to the results of SPECS-2016, NASSCO, under the supervision of the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), in collaboration with MBNP; and with technical support from the UKAID funded Child Development Grant Programme (CDGP), UNICEF, World Bank and other key partners, hereby propose to hold the Social Protection Cross-Learning Summit for next year - 2019 (SPECS-2019).
The purpose of this year’s consultative summit is to promote a more informed dialogue, using evidence to support targeted investments and positive changes in relevant social protection policies and programmes via advocacy, learning and sharing mechanisms. The specific objectives of SPECS-2019 Summit include:
1. To deepen the government’s and other stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the benefits of continuing investment in appropriate systems in the social protection sector in Nigeria.
2. To harness and share experiences on the design and implementation of social protection programmes; and promote the exchange of best practices among local and international partners.
3. Initiate discussions around the institutionalization of social protection in Nigeria at Federal and State level.
4. Draw up a call to action for targeted social protection programmes with relevant policies in Nigeria.
5. Use the forum to officially launch the National Social Protection Policy by the Hon. Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.
3. APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY:
SPECS-2019 will be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 22 - 24 January 2019 and will gather 150 – 500 participants including high-level and mid-level policymakers, government officials and policy advisors from various ministries in Nigeria, including the Office of the Vice President; National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives); Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), bi/multilateral organizations, NGOs and INGOs, originators and practitioners of social protection policies, media, researchers and subject experts.
This three-day summit is proposed as a three-pronged approach- pre-stakeholder engagement, main summit and post-summit; adopting a combination of presentations, panel and plenary discussions, round-table discussions and group sessions:
- Day 1- Pre-Stakeholder Engagement: This technical meeting will draw together key major players, key stakeholders and experts within the social protection space and from various sectors. During this meeting, technical experts will collate existing evidence from country and regional data, to highlight areas of focus and set the stage for the summit.
- Day 2- Main summit: This second day of the summit will facilitate experience sharing from experts (local and international), on how to successfully implement social protection programmes and sustainably institutionalize social protection policies in the country. Participants will include, key personalities from the government (Office of the Vice President; National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives); Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), bi/multilateral organizations, NGOs and INGOs, originators and practitioners of social protection policies, media, and researchers. This meeting will create a bottom-up mechanism, allowing national technical experts to discuss local issues with some of the world’s leading experts; as well as engaging with the policymakers with a view to influencing policies and decisions that will translate into more sustainable investments in social protection in Nigeria.
- Day 3- Post-summit: This will be a one-day event, convened by the office of the Vice President, through NASSCO. This meeting will include a keynote address from the Vice President and pull together all information from the previous 2 days of the summit, to identify priority areas for action and develop recommendations, which will form the implementation section of the Social Protection Agenda for Nigeria.
4. KEY OUTCOMES:
The outcomes of SPECS-2019, analytical papers, presentations and report will be hosted on the post-summit web platform for post-summit consultations – www.specs2019.socialprotectionnigeria.com/. The discussions emerging from the conference will inform the government and relevant stakeholders on the Social Protection Agenda for Nigeria. The specific outcomes of SPECS-2019 include:
1. Collation of all relevant data on social protection in Nigeria.
2. A functional knowledge base from social protection programmes in Nigeria.
3. Coalition building and/or Technical Working Group (TWG) on social protection in Nigeria.
4. Next steps in institutionalizing social protection in Nigeria.