500,000 women in urban slums to benefit from CHESTRAD’s financial inclusion project

Driven by its desire to guarantee a better life for financially disadvantaged women and girls, especially in urban slums across Nigeria, the Centre for Health Science Training and Development (CHESTRAD) has launched a project it calls Tariro.

Tariro — a Shona, South African word for ‘hope’ — is a financial inclusion project which gives and expands the access of children, girls and women to financial products and services, while also providing them with ample opportunities to access healthcare services.

Disclosing this in a virtual press conference on Tuesday, the President of CHESTRAD, Dr Lola Dare, said the project is specially designed to utilise latest technological innovations and financial services to provide access to healthcare, nutrition and early life learning and upscale financial inclusion among women and girls resident in urban slums.

“Tariro, will, as a special purpose vehicle under this programme, target women in urban slums in Lagos and leverage financial services and technology to enable 500,000 women, and through them also give additional two million children access to qualitative services in health, nutrition, and early learning. Our strategy is, if everyone commits to giving N5,000 a month, we can reach these 500,000 women without much external help.”

Kicking off, the project will target three main urban slums in Nigeria’s commercial hub — Lagos — Ikota (eti-Osa), Iba (Ojo) and Olowogbowo (Lagos Island). Collectively, these serve a population of over 3.5 million people, 55 per cent of whom are estimated to be women and girls (10-65 years) and children (under 60 months). From Lagos, the project would expand to other parts of the country.

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“As we all know, Lagos State is home to many urban slums. Many of these are located close to markets, motor parks and similar locations of high economic activity and enterprise, yet women and children continue to report unacceptable levels of poverty, ill-health and death. National statistics show that Nigeria loses 145 women of childbearing age every day due to pregnancy-related complications and an estimated 20 per cent (10 million) of the world’s out-of-school children are in Nigeria, 60 per cent (six million) of who are girls. Also, women represent between 60-79 per cent of Nigeria’s rural labour force”, she said.

To achieve the project’s goals, it has come with an innovative idea of establishing multi-service Tariro Centres (TC) in the slums, which will offer financial and educational services to increase economic opportunities for girls (10-14 years) and women (15-65 years). This will enable them to purchase basic life-saving outpatient health care services.

The project, Dr Dare said, will partner with Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA) “which provides access to inpatient basic and secondary services, thereby contributing to both state and national goals of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and other health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).”

It would also help address the hydra-headed problem of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which, Dr Dare noted, has spiked amidst the COVID-19-induced lockdown, through adequate sensitisation and empowerment of women and the girl child. With a smart card, which doubles as a cash card, women could seamlessly report cases of abuse and get immediate assistance.

Amidst the prevalent economic downturn, the project will also provide women with soft loans and grants to help them upscale their business and take care of themselves and families while an entrepreneurship scheme will be established to equip them with relevant skills.
According to Soft Alliances’ Kola Lasaki — one of the key partners in Tariro — their financial services solutions platform, Soft Speed, “will take care of loans and grants to women. There is also the health recording management solution where the health services will be rendered. We also have nutrition and academic performance monitoring to ensure that early nutrition and learning is monitored.”

On access to the internet and telecommunications services, she said the project will partner with Game Changers Women’s Network who have committed to provide a cellphone to every woman and girl under 15, who does not have one and meets some set requirements.

Earlier during the briefing, Chairman of the organisation, Bimbola Ogunkelu, said Tariro was initiated due to the urgent need to face the financial inequality challenge African women and the girl child face. He emphasised that if women are adequately empowered, they’ll be able to take care of their families and the society would be better.


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