Nigeria collects biometric data from elementary school children for meal program

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Nigeria is in the process of creating a biometric database of children, allegedly to increase the transparency of a school meal program. The National Home Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP) aims to take a win-win approach by stimulating local food production and catering while providing meals for children to help them focus and attract them to school first. place. Fingerprints and photos of children as young as five are being collected.

However, the motives for the collection are unclear as Nigerian media reported allegations of corruption in the program which aims to spend N70 (US $ 0.17) per child per day on a meal and already feed 9 million children a day, at least on paper. The exercise began before Nigeria’s data protection law came into effect and local media reported technical issues with the equipment as well as a surprising number of children showing up for registration.

The NHGSFP has been running since 2016 with funding from various international donor organizations. The federal government funds meals for children in the first three years of elementary school, and state governments are responsible for continuing the program for children in the next three years.

The program has already reached nine million children and the goal is to expand it to 15 million by 2023, according to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, as the reported The Guardian. The minister announced the launch of a biometric enrollment program for schoolchildren in Lokoja, a town between Lagos and the capital Abuja, although the reasons for the exercise are unclear except to confirm eligibility and constitute a basis for expansion.

The biometric capture of children aged five to eight has started in Borno State, also the epicenter of Boko Haram violence, and in fifteen official camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). It is part of the north-eastern geopolitical zone which has more than 2.2 million displaced people. A smaller region of four states, including Borno, is facing a cholera outbreak and in need of $ 46 million in emergency food aid, according to the UN.

“The only challenge we face is that initially we had planned 112,500 beneficiaries in Borno, but the figure based on the updated data has increased to 642,500 and so far we only have 55 tablets. ‘registration and expect another 212 tablets anytime from now on. the turn of the 27 LGA [Local Government Area]Borno state consultant for the exercise Alhaji Mohammed Alfa said as quoted by Vanguard.

“The good news I have for Borno is that this program is supposed to last 20 days, but due to our peculiarities we have had the option to extend it beyond the 20 days,” said Alfa.

“Borno State is a special state in terms of many challenges, insecurity and displaced people. These are likely to affect some of our plans, for example the issue of internally displaced children who have been moved from point A to point B, etc. Said Alfa, quoted by Voice of Nigeria. “But so far, everything is fine, the biometric capture started last week; the exercise went well even though we had a technical problem with the enrollment tablets.

The outlet noted that children in grades two and three had their biometrics entered first, followed by younger children in grade one. Borno State hopes to make better progress with 267 tablets to register 642,000 children.

“During my five-year journey as an education researcher, I have witnessed and read various challenges influencing the implementation of feeding programs in some of the schools benefiting from the program in the six geopolitical zones,” said writes Dr Olasunkanmi Habeeb Okunola, postdoctoral fellow (Global Change Institute) at the University of the Witwatersrand in an editorial for Vanguard.

“Surveys in these areas indicated that the program is fraught with problems of large-scale corruption, irregularities, politicization, poor quality control, lack of transparency and accountability,” Okunal wrote, citing issues such as low budget and issues where existing vendors around schools were affected when contracts were awarded to other vendors.

“We’ve been feeding students since 2016, but the data we processed is actually student names sent in by all states. This exercise will therefore allow us to enter the school, to put faces and identities to these children by taking their contact details, their photos and their biometric data ”, declared the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and of Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Nasarawa State, as quoted by Prompt News.

“The idea of ​​the exercise is to prove that those we feed are in fact human beings,” said Farouq, a possible recognition of corruption.

Population is a highly political issue in Nigeria and the census particularly problematic. Best estimates place the current population somewhere above 207 million. Population means power because a state’s number of seats in the federal government is based on population. Counting children could be a way to extrapolate other population figures.

HID Global provides biometric scanners – the DP4500. Children’s fingerprints are collected through an enrollment app developed by Irish-Nigerien web developers Plovtech (whose own website does not appear suitable for selection for app development and whose social media channels are prominent. advertising of soy products).

Olatunde Immanuel, Regional Director for Central and West Africa at HID Global, said, “Our devices have been deployed to targeted schools in Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones to identify beneficiaries who are properly enrolled and qualified to participate in the program. this incredible program.

“It’s projects like this that demonstrate how innovative global technologies such as biometrics can be applied to meet basic needs – in this case, a daily meal to improve children’s well-being while boosting savings. local. “

Articles topics

biometric identification | biometrics | children | data collection | face photo | fingerprint recognition | Global HID | humanitarian | Nigeria | schools


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