The poor and vulnerable are usually characterized by severe material deprivation which manifests in their inability to: obtain an adequate income; find a stable job; own property; and maintain healthy living conditions. Further, the poor lack an adequate level of education, cannot satisfy basic health needs, in poor health, and have short life span. The poor is in persistent social conditions of poverty and transmission from one generation to the next. They often lack the capacity to escape from their situation by themselves except they are assisted.
As stated in various literatures, those often affected by poverty/vulnerability to poverty in Nigeria usually include:
- Young children
- Pregnant mothers
- The elderly
- Inhabitants of rural areas and marginal urban zones
- People who have not been integrated into the society
It must be stressed that being in any of the listed above does not make one to be poor or vulnerable to poverty. Rather, there must have been some conditions that predispose them to poverty and the inability of those of them that have fallen below the poverty line or are vulnerable to poverty to come out of poverty. They must also exhibit some welfare outcomes which make them poor in the society that they live in. Field experience also revealed that the poor and the vulnerable are usually:
- Unable to eat adequately (e.g. three square meals per day)
- Always in tattered clothes
- Unable to send children to school
- Live in poor housing units
- Beg for food
- Cannot cook good food
- Cannot afford health bills and make recourse to self-medication/patronize unorthodox health care providers
- Cannot find job to do
- Have low level of or no education
- Have lost bread winner or do not have children to take care of them
- Cannot come out to mix in the community
The existence of coordinating platform and database is expected to assist in ensuring effective targeting that minimises errors of inclusion and exclusion, reduction of duplication of efforts, reduction of double dips, good monitoring and better impact evaluation of the programme outcomes.
Social protection is the protection of those who fall temporarily or persistently under levels of livelihood deemed unacceptable or are likely to do so. It is not the promotion of a general standard of opportunity and livelihood for all citizens. It is made up of social security (comprising social assistance and social insurance in developed economies) and Social Safety Net (SSN) in developing economies. SSN is a non-contributory transfer targeted at the poor and vulnerable. It is a safety valve to prevent people from going further below the poverty line by cushioning them against shocks or risks that can further jeopardize their livelihood status. It consists of transfers in cash and kind, income generating activities e.g. public works and protecting human capital.