The Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) has provided employment opportunities for 1,025 poor women and youths in Kwara State.
NG- CARES is a support programme to state governments by the federal government, through the World Bank, to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and the vulnerable citizens.
It is an emergency operation designed to support budgeted programme of expenditures and interventions at the state level – targeting existing and newly emerging vulnerable and poor households, agricultural value chains, and micro and small enterprises (MSEs) affected by the economic crises occasioned by COVID- 19 in order to bring down the cumulative effects of the pandemic on Nigerians.
Kwara is one of the few pioneer states to key into the NG-CARES programme through the provision of take-off funds.
To achieve the objectives of the NG-CARES programme in the state, five delivery platforms were subscribed to, including the Labour Intensive Public Workfare (LIPW) which handles all public works related activities.
The first batch of 1,025 beneficiaries were drawn from the 16 local government areas of the state and they are mainly unskilled youths and women from 18-50 years of age.
The beneficiaries were engaged in cleaning and maintaining of public institutions and utilities, garbage and refuse collections and waste disposal, as well as traffic control, among others.
These tasks must, however, be performed in their immediate communities for a maximum period of four hours per day, excluding weekends and public holidays. In all, they are expected to work for 20 days in a month; and in return, each beneficiary is to receive the sum of N10,000 monthly stipends for 12 calendar months after which another batch of 1,025 new beneficiaries would be absorbed for one year before the end of the programme.
Addressing the community development officers (CDOs) from the 16 local government areas of the state at a meeting in Ilorin, the state capital, before the deployment of the beneficiaries, the then commissioner for Environment, Hon. Abosede Buraimoh, charged them to work hard to ensure the success of the programme in their respective local government areas.
The commissioner, who stated that the state government places much premium on the NG-CARES programme as a way of alleviating poverty in the state, urged the CDOs to complement government’s effort by being alive to their responsibilities.
As intermediaries between the ministry and the LGAs, Buraimoh told the officers to report any challenge being encountered on the field to the ministry in good time, with a view to addressing such hindrances accordingly.
With the completion of the orientation and validation of the beneficiaries, a total of 1,025 first batch of validated beneficiaries from about 450 communities were on April 18, 2022, deployed across the 16 LGAs of the state to labour intensive public works within their immediate communities.
In the same vein, payment of monthly stipends to the beneficiaries also commenced in the month of April, 2022 and paid into their individual bank accounts. However, a precondition for the payment is signing of the daily attendance register.
To ensure their safety, the state government also made funds available for the procurement of health and safety equipment and light tools for distribution to the beneficiaries of the scheme.
Flagging off the distribution exercise at Pake Area Office of Ilorin East and South LGAs, the commissioner for Environment, Mrs Remilekun Banigbe disclosed that the programme is aimed at reducing poverty among the teeming youths, who have been made vulnerable by the adverse effects of the COVID -19 pandemic.
She said the distribution of the equipment is in line with COVID-19 protocols and the need to protect the beneficiaries against foreseeable and unforeseeable health hazards.
Banigbe urged the beneficiaries and stakeholders at all levels to . their parts in the attainment of the objectives of the programme.
Items distributed to the beneficiaries included hand gloves, sanitizers, nose masks, brooms, cutlasses, packers, and reflective jackets, among others.
At the event, the technical head of LIPW in the state, Alh. Shamsideen Aregbe praised Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for his support which culminated in the effective implementation and take off of the NG-CARES programme in the state.
Some of the beneficiaries of the programme thanked the state government for providing them with steady means of livelihood.
They pledged to carry out their tasks with all sense of responsibility.
Those who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend are Mrs Zainab Jagun from Ayegbami area in Ilorin East local government area and AbdulGaniyu Salman from Alore area in Ilorin West local government area.
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