Abuja, June 22, 2023 - The World Bank has approved $500 million for the Nigeria for Women Program Scale Up (NFWP-SU). The scale-up financing will further support the government of Nigeria to invest in improving the livelihoods of women in Nigeria. The NFWP-SU will help to ensure better economic opportunities for women which is essential for addressing gender inequality; guaranteeing better education, health, and nutrition outcomes for families; and building women’s and communities’ resilience to climate change.
As Nigeria faces the immediate challenge of stimulating economic recovery amid climate-related crises and COVID-related economic shocks, it is important the Government address issues that inhibit women’s economic empowerment and hinder inclusive, low-carbon and resilient economic growth. Women are disproportionately in low-productivity sectors along key agricultural value chains, have limited access to inputs (including land and finance) and inadequate knowledge and information about improved inputs and practices.
Women’s empowerment is essential to their ability to build resilience to climate change and, by extension, the resilience of their households and communities. By building assets, women can better respond to family needs and mitigate risks and the effects of climate and other shocks on livelihoods. Gender disparities in earnings hold back the Nigerian economy.
“We have seen promising outcomes from the parent NFWP which has helped to create economic opportunities for thousands of rural women through the Women Affinity Groups. NFWP’s model is helping to improve livelihood opportunities for women and enhancing their capacity to adapt to climate change and to participate in local administrations for policymaking related to community empowerment” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, “closing the gender gap in key economic sectors could yield gains of between $9.3 billion and $22.9 billion, we are optimistic that this scale up will help Nigeria to move closer to bridging this gap.”
The NFWP-SU will focus efforts on increasing financial inclusion for members of Women Affinity Groups (WAG) by: (a) making financial literacy and financial planning a core aspect of institution building; (b) increasing emphasis on savings and savings mobilization; and (c) dedicating investments to build partnerships with financial service providers to enhance financial inclusion. The Project will provide all necessary technical assistance and support services to the WAGs to ensure that the livelihood activities are productive, generate income and support resilience to climate change. The project intends to institutionalize WAGs and other platforms for women’s economic empowerment and enhance the economic opportunities of unbanked women.
“The Program aims to mobilize poor and vulnerable women into different institutions and, using these institutional platforms, link them to markets as well as financial and non-financial services. Through participation in Women Affinity Groups, project beneficiaries build social capital that can then be leveraged to access financial, political, and economic capital–thus leading to both social and economic empowerment,” said Michael Ilesanmi, Task Team Leader for the Nigeria for Women Project.
The NFWP-SU builds on the existing Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP) which was approved in June 2018. The initial phase of the project tested the Women Affinity Group (WAG) model and the Government of Nigeria found it to be effective, in offering members benefits beyond economic empowerment and serve as a platform for reaching women and their households with multiple development interventions such as access to health insurance and behavior change communication messages regarding reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition (RMNCH-N); and sanitation, among other challenges.
NFWP has been implemented in six states and provides support to over 427,887 WAG members through the formation and strengthening of 20,506 of these groups. In about two years, these WAGs have saved about NGN 4billion ($8.9 million equivalent) with a significant percentage of these funds in circulation as loans at any given time. So far, 835,573 community members have benefitted from the NFWP through different interventions.
*The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.