COVID-19: EU, UNDP, Humanitarian Affairs Ministry and Lagos State Government target 22,600 vulnerable families, 5,000 SMEs in New Unconditional Cash Transfer Project

September 29, 2020

Launch of the Unconditional Cash Transfer Project in Lagos. The beneficiaries of the project are vulnerable people & businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lagos, Nigeria, 29 September 2020 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Lagos State Government and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDS) has launched an Unconditional Cash Transfer project targeting the poor and vulnerable in Lagos state, largely funded by the European Union (EU). With a total sum of N885.5 million  (equivalent to US $2.3 million), 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 Honorable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Ketil Karlsen and the UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Mohamad Yahya, witnessed the unveiling of the project in Lagos. 

From left to right: Solape Hammond, Special Adviser Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investments to the Governor of Lagos State, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and UNDP Resident Representative Mohamed Yahya during the opening ceremony of the event Photo Credit: Lagos State Government

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 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 opined 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."

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, presenting his speech at the event Photo Credit: Lagos State Government

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to trigger a 60 per cent decline in earnings for the world’s 1.6 billion informal workers (ILO), while half of the world is trying to survive without any form of social protection. However, within this devastating crisis also lies an opportunity. The world needs to take immediate bold action to stem the socio-economic decline and ensure that recovery efforts are sustainable and that countries move towards a green economy, taking a different path from the previous global development trajectory.

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.

The (COVID-19) pandemic has created a global health and socio-economic crisis that has disrupted lives and may leave millions vulnerable for years to come. UNDP is drawing on lessons learned and an ever-changing context to ensure that COVID-19 support is dynamic and flexible. In Nigeria, with support from the EU and other key partners under the One UN COVID-19 response, UNDP is pivoting to address the increasingly severe social and economic impacts of the pandemic and support the rights-based social contracts needed for lasting change. As the Secretary-General’s technical lead on socio-economic recovery globally, UNDP is working closely with UN Resident Coordinators and other UN agencies to ensure an integrated UN response, guided by the Sustainable Development Goals and the need to course-correct to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and deliver on the pledge to leave no one behind.

COVID-19 will reverberate across the SDGs and reverse hard-won development gains. “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.” said, Mr. Mohamed Yahya UNDP Resident Representative for Nigeria.

Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative for Nigeria, delivering his speech at the event Photo Credit: Lagos State Gov

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire highlighted the initiatives of the Federal Government to contain the effects of the pandemic, noting the inadequacies of a unilateral effort. “Our social investment programs are not reaching far enough, fast enough or deep enough. This intervention will scale our efforts and significantly eliminate the lasting effects of the pandemic”

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, delivering her speech Photo credit: RED Media

While addressing the socio-economic impact of the virus, UNDP will also draw on its work on human rights, stigma and discrimination, to support governments, civil society, UN entities and other stakeholders to highlight gaps in laws, policies and practices that hinder a human rights-based COVID-19 response. UNDP will continue to help and ensure that the responses of countries are not just comprehensive, but equitable and inclusive so that countries can continue to make progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Notes to the editors:

On April 6 2020, the UN, in collaboration with the Government of Nigeria, launched the One UN COVID-19 Response Basket Fund. The Basket Fund serves as the One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform, through which different stakeholders (including UN, other multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as private sector donors, foundations and philanthropists) can channel their financial support to the multi-sectoral efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response.

As of July 2020, the One UN COVID-19 Rresponse Basket Fund, managed by UNDP, had mobilised US$63.8 million, including US$54.6 million from the European Union (EU); US$2.2 million from UN agencies; $US4 million from the private sector (Dangote US$ 3.8 million and AP Maersk US$ 0.2 million); US$0.4 million from the Government of Switzerland; US$ 1 million from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; US$ 400,000 MacArthur Foundation; US$ 1,050,000 from Government of Norway.

As of June 2020, the Project Board had allocated US$ 42,767,450.16 for response interventions to be undertaken by Participating UN Organizations (PUNOs) covering the following areas: Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE); Strengthening State level Operational Capacity in Surveillance, Infection Prevention, and Control; Building Capacity of Healthcare Workers in Case Management and strengthening hospital capacities to respond; and, engagement with Civil Society Organisations to reverse the negative impact of COVID-19 on equal access to essential health services.

Through the Basket Fund, UNDP has procured over $ 13.0 million (with a significant contribution from the EU) worth of health equipment including PPE as emergency support to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

For more information and media enquiries contact:


Alison Clement – Communications Specialist, UNDP Nigeria | +234 701 590 6558|  

At the EU: 
Modestus Chukwulaka - Press and Information Officer, EU in Nigeria | +234 9 4617800/7 ext 204 | +234 8033113017;