Nigeria’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu has harped on the imperativeness of member countries of the Economic Community of West Africa, ECOWAS, to work towards achieving maximum social protection in the sub-region.
Edu is the chairman of the ECOWAS Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Protection.
Speaking in Banjul, the Capital of the Republic of Gambia, during the closing session of the hybrid inter-ministerial meeting to adopt the ECOWAS regional social protection framework and operational plan, she told the session that the adoption of the social protection framework by member countries and full implementation was key to overcoming humanitarian and poverty challenges in West Africa.
She described the meeting as crucial and remarkable as it was expected to grow the great initiatives and long-term efforts of the ECOWAS Commission with the support of partners in birthing the social protection instruments in the sub-sub-region.
The Minister, who chaired the event virtually, declared that: “Social Protection is a fundamental human right and should not be regarded as a privilege.
“It is a social and economic necessity that has proven to be a stabilizer in times of crises and shock, and it is meant to be provided throughout life-circle.”
Edu pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the yawning gaps in the social protection of the world, particularly in the West African sub-region, which has one of the lowest social protections in the continent.
Records, she disclosed, had shown that the coverage of Social Protection in the ECOWAS region is the lowest in the continent with an average of about 17% of the population receiving at least one form of social protection benefits.
She added that spending was equally low as studies revealed that as little as 1% of the GDP of member States were spent on social protection benefits.