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By Danjuma Williams (Gombe State Correspondent)

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Gombe State Government for initiating the social protection policy plan aimed at improving the lives of the people of the State.

Mr Yusuf Auta, the Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, made the commendation in his goodwill message at the commencement of a five day workshop on the development of implementation plan and costing of Gombe social protection policy.

The workshop is organized by the budget planning and development partner coordination office, Gombe State, in conjunction with UNICEF.

According to Mr. Auta, "With the effort of the State Government as clearly expressed and visioned in its social protection policy document of providing "Better life for all", the children of the state will grow in an environment that will enable them to compete favourably with children all over the world".

He said the policy document, if well implemented, would place the state on the path of growth and development.

He also said, the policy would promote the well-being of children and women in the state adding that "UNICEF is happy to be part of this process because it affects the lives of women and children. UNICEF pays attention to women and children because it is the credo of development".

Expressing optimism in the success of the policy, He quoted the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report which stated that 'Gombe State has the lowest poverty rate in Northeast Nigeria'.

According to him, "Gombe State is one of the states with the lowest poverty rate in the North-East according to the 2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria by the National Bureau of Statistics, 2020".

He explained that the figures were also captured in the state's social protection policy document recently developed adding however that there is multi-dimensional poverty among children in Gombe state like all states in Nigeria.

He explained that a child is multi-dimensionally poor if deprived in any three of the following: nutrition, health, water, sanitation, education, housing and information.

While assuring UNICEF's continued support to the state with technical assistance to address some of the policy's issues, Mr. Auta said, "Social protection policy provides the platform for UNICEF to support women and children to have a better life.

"So, we are here to come up with an implementation plan which will be in accordance with the budget provision of the state," he said.

The meeting had participants from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), traditional institutions, development partners, academia and the media, among others. NNL.

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