The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), in partnership with the Lagos State government and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has launched an unconditional cash transfer project targeting the poor and vulnerable in Lagos state.

The project will cost a total sum of N885.5 million equivalent to $2.3 million.

According to a statement released by EU on Wednesday, the project is largely funded by the organization.

“The project implemented under the Nigeria One UN COVID-19 Response seeks to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the beneficiaries and strengthen resilience of communities in selected Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the state, deeply impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the senior special assistant to the president on Sustainable Development Goals, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen and the UNDP Resident Representative, Mohamad Yahya, witnessed the unveiling of the project in Lagos.

“Lagos State not only has the largest number of recorded cases of COVID-19 in the country, (19,239 as of 28th September 2020), but also has the highest number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), nationwide at over 3 million micro-enterprises and more than 8,000 SMEs, which have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

“In key areas such as Victoria Island, Ikorodu, Ifako-Ijaye, Alimosho, Apapa and Lagos Mainland, 22,600 families will benefit from cash transfers, while over 5,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups will receive funding for business continuity or innovative start-ups that will benefit their communities.”

The Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that the pandemic is a learning point for impactful, far-sighted policies and a catalyst for sustainable development.

“As a responsible and responsive government, we are constantly implementing initiatives that ameliorate the plights of our citizens, businesses and constituencies.

“Despite budget cuts and resource conservation, we have increased capital expenditure in health, education, and economics sectors. I am excited at the opportunity this partnership presents in impacting the lives of our people.”

The head of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, described the COVID-19 pandemic as a health, humanitarian and socio-economic crisis that has continued to have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable and marginaliszed while exacerbating existing inequalities, both within and between countries.

“We are at the tipping point that requires cohesive, collective and immediate action, including harnessing social safety nets for the most vulnerable people, such as cash transfers and temporary basic income, particularly for women who are falling faster into poverty than men” he said.

Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative for Nigeria said, “The pandemic has made our pledge to leave no one behind and to reach those furthest behind first much more difficult to achieve. Together, we nonetheless have a chance to turn one of the greatest reversals of human development in our lifetimes into a historic leap forward to a sustainable, inclusive, peaceful, and resilient future, with the Sustainable Development Goals as our compass.”

The senior special assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, highlighted the initiatives of the federal government to contain the effects of the pandemic, noting the inadequacies of a unilateral effort.