Nigeria hosts the highest number of extremely poor in the world, with over 86.5 million people or 42% of the country population living on less than US$1.90 a day in 2020. Addressing poverty and vulnerabilities in times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic requires a system that can cover all Nigerian residents if needed, and rely on speedy targeting options, identification and delivery procedures to be extended rapidly.

Strengthening and Expanding the National Social Registry (NSR) as a shock-responsive social protection system in Nigeria is a one-year technical cooperation project between the ILO and the National Social Safety Nets Coordination Office (NASSCO) under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDS). The initiative aims to increase access to social assistance for Nigerian extremely poor and vulnerable individuals, in particular those affected heavily by the COVID-19 crisis.

In 2017, Nigeria adopted a National Social Protection Policy (NSPP), which commits it to establish a social protection floor. Around the same time, a social assistance coordination platform was set up, making use of a data registration and management system called the National Social Register (NSR). In 2019, the government announced a commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty and created the FMHDS to institutionalize social protection in the country. 

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a growing realization that the NSR – intended to guide all social assistance and humanitarian efforts in the country – has not been able to reach its full potential yet as a shock-responsive system with national-wide coverage. Limited coverage, a restrictive identification method and a lack of linkages with the humanitarian and health sectors are among its main challenges.

In this context, the project supports activities to strengthen the NSR system with mechanisms for interoperability with humanitarian relief and health insurance. This is complemented with capacity-building activities with social protection partners to implement and monitor shock-sensitive, gender-sensitive and disability-inclusive social protection systems and programmes. The project specifically focuses on the North-Eastern states Yobe and Adamawa, where there are many social protection and humanitarian actors active and where the potential of adoption of the NSR is high.

In 2020, the project has kicked off its activities by supporting the State Operations Coordinating Units (SOCU) of Yobe and Adamawa to perform a mapping of Social Protection and Humanitarian income support programmes and actors in their state. Conversations with state actors on using the State Social Registers (SSR) have started. At the federal level, a gap analysis is being performed on the basis of which a work plan will be created to improve IT governance and interoperability of the NSR system. 




Dramane Batchabi, Social Protection Specialist West Africa, ILO, 

Emmanuel Danjuma, Project Officer, ILO,