Nigeria is said to have more people living in poverty than any other country. The World Poverty Clock shows Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world the 86.9 million Nigerians now living in extreme poverty represents nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million population 2018. Using newly available data on growth, poverty, and living standards, the report gives a clearer picture of general development trends in the country, according to author John Litwack, World Bank lead economist for Nigeria. The World Bank has estimated that 87% of all the poor people in Nigeria are in the north. In a report titled, 'Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria'. The Nigeria economic report estimated that 33.1% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2012/2013 While the South of Nigeria has relatively low poverty rates, ranging from 16% in the South West to 28.8% in the South East, poverty rates in the North West and North East are 45.9% and 50.2%, respectively.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has always been committed to reducing the worsening poverty status and high level of youth unemployment as the consequences are very grave. As a saying goes that an idle hand is the devils workshop, successive administrations did put in place various measures to tackle these malaise but the resultant effects were virtually unsatisfactory and ineffective due to several factors. These factors include duplication of functions or efforts errors of inclusion and exclusions of which lack of a credible data base of would be beneficiaries was the most prominent. If the government is to succeed in its poverty alleviation prohrammes, then a new approach has to be employed. This new approach is what gave rise to the establishment of Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO).

The Youth Employment and Social Support (YESSO) came into existence in August 7th 2013 and is designed to reduce the poverty level in Nigeria and is supported by the World Bank. It is a flagship operation that aims at strengthening the state level social safety – net systems and reducing vulnerability of poor youth and women through increased access to work opportunities and promoting human capital development. The YESSO activities are social safety net support that promotes synergy and uniformity as well as a paradigm shift from how past programmes have operated. In 2017 the YESSO was restructured to mitigate the devastative effect of insurgency activities in the north East region of Nigeria.

YESSO supports existing structures and systems to help strengthen their capacities for poverty alleviation, this is achieved through its coordinating units at the federal level called Federal Operation Coordinating Unit (FOCU) and at state level called State Operation Coordinating Unit (SOCU) using a partnership between the private sector, local government (LGAs) and communities. The project is currently operating in 17 states. Abia, Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Cross river, Ekiti, Gombe, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Taraba, Sokoto, and Yobe.


YESSO addresses these challenges through its components namely;


  1. Coordination
  2. Public workfare (PWF)
  3. Skills for job (S4J)
  4. Targeted grant transfer (TGT) respectively


These components implement various YESSO interventions that empowers and employ the services of the youths, IDPs, poor and vulnerable households in the states mentioned above.

Coordination component enable States to be facilitated to establish their Single and Unified Registry for selecting eligible beneficiaries for various interventions while in the PWF component Youths will receive cash payment in return for working in the public works program in each participating State. Similarly in S4J youths are trained in various skills from selected benefiting household to eventually be employed or be self-employed since they will all be given appropriate starter packs and  last but not the least, IDPs (from existing registries which are put together as the Unified :Register of Beneficiaries URB) and vulnerable household in host communities receive targeted grant cash transfers to incentivize them to leave IDP camps and resettled in safe communities to enable them live a dignified life. 


Component 1: Coordination of Social Safety Net (SSN): This component focus on streamlining the role of Federal Operation Coordinating Unit (FOCU) to provide Technical support to Project Implementation Units-PIUs in Monitoring and Evaluation, Reporting and Management of Accounts. A State Operation Coordinating Unit (SOCU) is also set up in a Central Agency, preferably at the Planning Ministry, to be responsible for establishing and managing the Single Register in all participating states and the Unified Register of Poor, Vulnerable and IDPs (URPV) in the North East. The fifteen states of YESSO who are funded by the World Bank to establish the Single Registers in their respective states have contributed significantly to the National Social Register which is being managed by NASSCO. This process is ongoing as more numbers of poor and vulnerable households are being added on weekly and monthly basis.

Component 2: Public Workfare (PWF). This supports the participating state governments to provide immediate labor-intensive work opportunities for the unskilled youths from poor households who get paid monthly from the service they render in their own communities. This component will not only invariably enhance the capacity of the participating unemployed young people but may also create and improve basic social and economic infrastructures in the community. The process of enrollment into the PWF is contingent upon fulfilling the requisite criteria of selection which are age, education and employment status. More than 400,000 youths mined from the single register are presently enrolled under this component across the YESSO participating states.

Component 3: Skills for Jobs (S4J): This component which is being facilitated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is piloting a new approach to skills training to increase the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to combat unemployment, especially among the youth. The approach emphasizes demand-driven skills training designed to enable trainees to find sustainable jobs, institutional capacity building and public-private sector partnerships.

Component 4: Targeted Grant Transfer (TGT) is exclusively for the North East states only, with a focus on IDPs (HHs or individuals) as well as poor and vulnerable in host communities who are duly registered in the Unified Register of Beneficiaries (URB), which is compiled by the states using existing registers, generated by various organizations e.g. International Organization for Migration (IOM), SEMA, United Nations Children’s’ Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), German Technical Cooperation Department (GTZ), USAID etc. The purpose of the targeted grant transfers is to incentivize the IDPs to resettle back in their original communities if they are safe or other safe communities to ensure they live a dignified life.  A new sub – component known as the Special Grant Transfer (SGT) has been added to the existing four components to cater for the aged (65 years +) and the physically challenged.


Development Objective

The Project development objective (PDO) is “increase access of the poor and vulnerable, using improved safety net systems, to youth employment opportunities in all Participating States and to provide Targeted Grant Transfers to the poor, vulnerable and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the North East States.” Using improved safety net system would have a common targeting system and a unified registry of potential beneficiaries as major elements to facilitate basic services to households.


YESSO Targeting Process (The Community Based Targeting Approach CBT)

That past efforts of governments on poverty alleviations failed is not a matter of conjecture but is traceable to several factors such as poor coordination, poor database, lack of effective targeting,  poor monitoring and evealuation and lack of evaluation of project impact.  To effectively address this problem, YESSO developed the Community Based Targeting (CBT) system for the establishment of Single Register (SR) of poor and vulnerable households from where would-be beneficiaries are to be selected. The Community Based Targeting system is a community driven process which entrusts to the members of a community the right of identifying the poorest of the poor in their community based on their own definition of poverty using their own verifiable and evident criteria. YESSO Targeting process usually commence with geographical targeting where agreement is reached for the use of a poverty map. Because YESSO uses a bottom - top approach, selection of entry areas starts with the poorest local governments and communities in each participating state followed by Sensitization/Advocacy visit to key stakeholders within the State Capital. These activities include meeting between the SOCU officials, the Honourable Commissioner Ministry for Local Government Affairs (MLGA), his officials, line MDAs {such as Ministry of Women Affairs, Social Development, State Planning Commission, CSOs and other key stakeholders of YESSO.

The SOCU team thereafter and in collaboration with the representatives of the line MDAs including the YESSO desk Officer from MLGAs conducts an advocacy & sensitization visit to   LGAs. These activities involve courtesy calls to the palaces of traditional Rulers/Emirs and to urge all the Stakeholders in the LGAs to support the exercise. The SOCU and LGA officials discussed the concept of poverty & vulnerability and also agreed on the criteria for the identification of poorest Communities/Villages in each of the LGAs. The criteria used include: poverty ranking, geographical spread & accessibility to education and health facilities. The LGAs Policy makers there after constitute the CBT teams of their various LGAs whose membership were drawn from the LGAs relevant Departments, these are:


  1. Community Development Officer - Team Leader
  2. Two Computer literate officers from the LGAs - Members
  3. A planning officer of the LGA - Member
  4. SOCU official - Member

Other members of the constituted CBT team are the representative of line MDAs.

Implementation of the CBT Activities in the State.

After being trained on how to carry out the CBT process, the team of each of the LGAs now takes over the full responsibilities of the conduct of the CBT process at the community level through Sensitization/Mobilization, and the Engagement.

Community Sensitization /Mobilization: the CBT team pays advocacy visit and enlightened the community leaders that government is embarking on data collection exercise on poor and vulnerable household for the purpose of planning for development. That only permanent resident of the communities is qualified to be involved in the Focus Group Discussion (FGD). The CBTT also desensitize community members and requests the support of Community leaders to mobilize members to participate in the FGD. The Community members and the CBT teams deliberated and eventually reached an agreement on the date, time and venue for the Focus Group Discussion (FGD).

Community Engagement: the CBT teams desensitizes the community members on the purpose of their second visit. The CBT teams facilitates and sought the permission of community leaders for communities to be divided mostly into three (3) groups as agreed during the community sensitization/mobilization exercise in order to select the poorest of the poor and vulnerable households in their respective communities. The CBT teams at the group levels allowed community members to express their views on the understanding of the concept of poverty and vulnerability.

The communities were able to defined poverty as lack of basic needs e.g. food, shelter, clothes, business capital, illiteracy, ownership of farm land as well as cows and other poverty indices peculiar to individual community in their respective LGAs. After the FGDs in the respective groups, each group identified poorest of the poor households based on their earlier discussions and perceptions/definition of poverty and vulnerability. Thereafter the entire gathering will be reconvened and the list of the groups harmonized and ranked. The list that evolved was in accordance with the severity of poverty and vulnerability. The final list of 40 poor and vulnerable households were read out to the hearing of community members for concurrence.

The community members of the poorest communities thereafter select’s a Grievance Redress Mechanism GRM focal person for each of the communities who will be responsible for receiving and forwarding of complaint/grievances to the LGA CBT team for eventual action by either the LGA CBT or the state SOCU focal person (Head of Operation). Thereafter, CBT team lead will thank the community and also inform them that another set of CBT members (Enumerators) will be visiting them soon for another activity. Enumerators are recruited competiively from the LGA staff with requisite qualifications and experience and trained on enumeration using electronic data collection device. The enumeration team in collaboration with the CDO and GRM focal persons in each community paid pre-visit and informs community members on the date for data collection exercise to ensure the presence of the identified households during the enumeration exercise. The households to be enumerated would have been clearly numbered using the harmonised list generated during community engagement.


Selection of beneficiaries’ into interventions.

Beneficiaries’ selection into the various YESSO interventions is based on the use of approved criteria as spelt out in the operation manuals, therefore the Public Workfare, Skills for Job, Targeted Grant Transfer and Special Grant Transfer interventions enroll beneficiaries who have met the requisite criteria after being mined from the single register of poor and vulnerable households in each participating state. Orientation Training is thereafter organized to educate, inform and enlighten the beneficiaries and selected key stakeholders on YESSO operations. The criteria for selection into each YESSO interventions are:


  1. Public Workfare
    • Age = 18 - 35 (45 - 50)
    • Education =  Less than 9 years schooling
    • Employment status = Unemployed and unskilled
  2. Skills for Job
    • Age = 18 - 35
    • Education =  SSCE and Above
    • Employment status = Unemployed and Unskilled
  3. Targeted Grant Transfer
    • Each IDP household in the URB
  4. Special Grant Transfer
    • Age = 65 and Above
    • Disable with age range from 18 - 64 and not in PWF or S4J.