By Philip Yatai
Zaria (Kaduna State) – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Kaduna State Government for efforts to develop a social protection policy that would address the plight of the marginalised and vulnerable.
Ramatu Aliyu, Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF gave the commendation on Wednesday in Zaria, on the sideline of a two-day Situation Analysis Workshop on social protection problems in the state.
The workshop, supported by Save the Children International was organised to provide vivid insight into the social protection problems in the state and propose appropriate response to identified issues.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that social protection policy was crucial in reaching out to the poor and vulnerable groups in the society.
According to her, people are faced with problems such as poverty, deprivation and inability to access health, education, food, shelter and others.
She, however, urged the government to remove all financial barriers to access basic services such as healthcare, water, sanitation, education, shelter and food among others.
She said it was necessary to eliminate any financial barrier that would stop individual from accessing basic services to improve livelihood.
“It is very important that we keep this at the back of our minds as we go through the process of developing an all-inclusive social protection policy.
“These barriers are more inclined toward the poor. So, it is not only about providing a school, or a health facility.
“It is more about making sure that vulnerable people have access to health or education services without worrying about money to pay.
“It is to make sure that money is not a barrier for pregnant women, the aged, other vulnerable and marginalised groups that need government support’’, the UNICEF specialist said.
Aliyu described as a `milestone’ government’s efforts to use the social protection approach in addressing issues of poverty and vulnerability.
The specialist also said there should be an inclusive consultation with people to incorporate their opinion into the policy.
“There is the need for a coordination among the different implementing ministries, department and agencies as well as relevant stakeholders.
“It is also important to start thinking of a legal framework to back social protection for sustainability,” she said.
The UNICEF specialist advised that the policy should be implementable and not left to grow dust in shelves.