LAGOS State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday launched the ‘Unconditional cash transfer programme for vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 in Lagos State” to support communities and businesses deeply impacted by the pandemic.

The programme, also known as the COVID-19 basket fund, is meant to “cushion the effect of the pandemic through stepped-up action to protect the vulnerable, who are also faced with the loss of income as a result of measures taken by the government to contain the spread of the pandemic by strengthening their capacity for the continuation of livelihoods, employment and businesses”.

It is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Federal and Lagos State governments, European Union (EU) and some other donor organisations.

According to the Resident Representative of UN/EU Ambassador, Dr. Mohammed Yaya, 22,600 families and 5, 500 small and medium enterprises SMEs in Lagos will benefit from the basket through cash transfer.

In his goodwill message at the launch, which took place at Ikoyi, Sanwo-Olu thanked UNDP, EU, the Federal Government and other donors for the gesture.

The governor promised that his government has implemented and will continue to implement measures to ameliorate the effect of the pandemic on the people.

Reeling out his administration’s efforts to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the citizens since the outbreak, the governor assured that the UNDP initiative will be providing cash for some of the most vulnerable areas in Lagos State.

He added that the programme will take them out of poverty for them to start their lives again.

The governor said 800,000 families in the state have so far been touched by its palliatives in the last three months.

Yaya said the project will entail quick implementation as well as transparent and trackable interventions to address the developmental impact of COVID-19 in selected locations and safeguard national progress towards the SDGs.

He added that it would raise awareness, drive community action and galvanise the support of stakeholders, strengthen capacity for pandemic containment in selected hotspots communities.

Dignitaries at the event include the Senior Special Assistant on SDG to President Muhammadu Buhari, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Special Assistant to Governor Sanwo-Olu on SDG, Dr. Mohammed Yaya, Resident Representative of UNDP, EU Ambassador, who joined virtually and some members of the state exco.