Nigeria currently needs long-term reforms to foster and sustain pro-poor growth and raise citizens out of poverty, World Bank report reveals.
According to the Bank’s latest report titled: ‘A Better Future for All Nigerians: Nigeria Poverty Assessment 2022’, Nigeria requires macroeconomic reforms including fiscal, trade, and exchange rate policy; policies to boost the productivity of farm and non-farm household enterprises among others.
The report, which represents the culmination of the World Bank’s engagement on poverty and inequality-relevant data and analytics in Nigeria in the past two years, brings together the latest evidence on the profile and drivers of poverty in Nigeria. The report states clearly that currently 4 in 10 Nigerian live below the national poverty line. “Many Nigerians, especially in the country’s north lack education and access to basic infrastructure, such as electricity, safe drinking water, and improved sanitation. As many as 4 in 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty line,” it stated.
It added that shaping the specifics of Nigeria’s poverty-reducing policies will depend strongly on redoubling efforts to gather and analyze data regularly.
It states that these reforms, together could help diversify the economy, invigorate structural transformation, create good, productive jobs, and support social protection programs as well as other redistributive government policies.
The report emphasizes that these reforms are urgent as Nigeria’s population continues to grow, “now is the time to ensure that the country seizes the promise of its young people for economic prosperity. Commenting on the report, Tara Vishwanath, World Bank Lead Economist and co-author of the report noted that as conflict is spreading and intensifying across Nigeria, it is important to implement programs to support poor and vulnerable Nigerians that are simple and flexible while also limiting the risk of exacerbating fragility and conflict.
“Data can provide vital guidance on how to design, monitor, and evaluate pro-poor projects and programs, giving a voice to poor and vulnerable Nigerians” added Jonathan Lain, World Bank Economist and co-author of the report.
The report further notes that jobs do not translate Nigerians’ hard work into an exit from poverty, as most workers are engaged in small-scale household farm and non-farm enterprises; just 17 percent of Nigerian workers hold the wage jobs best able to lift people out of poverty.
“The report adds that climate and conflict shocks, which disproportionately affect Nigeria’s poor are multiplying, and their effects have been compounded by COVID-19; yet government support for households is scant.
“Households have adopted dangerous coping strategies, including reducing education and scaling back food consumption, which could have negative long-run consequences for their human capital.”
Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria said: “It is clear that much needs to be done to help lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, including boosting health and education, bolstering productive jobs, and expanding social protection.
“Yet implementing pro-poor initiatives requires unlocking fiscal space; reforming expensive subsidies including fuel subsidies will be essential, alongside countervailing measures to protect the poor as reforms are effected.”