The Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Kano, Lagos, Rivers, and FCT Abuja


Thursday, September 03, 2020 01:58 PM /by  NBS/ Header Image Credit:  Data Art & EcoGraphics

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The second quarter (Q2) 2020 Labor Force Survey (LFS) - collected by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) between the 17th June and 8th July 2020 - provides crucial information on households' response to COVID-19 in the key states of Kano, Lagos, Rivers, and FCT Abuja, which can be benchmarked against pre-crisis data from the 2018/19 Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS).

Several key insights emerge from this analysis:

  • The share of people engaged in economic activities in the four states waslower in June/July 2020 than before the COVID-19 crisis, especially in FCT Abuja where the share of people working was down by around 14 percentage points.


  • Even if some people have resumed work, incomes may still be precarious, with larger shares of workers in Kano and Rivers engaged in agriculture and a smaller share of workers in Lagos engaged in industry than before the COVID-19 crisis.


  • Food insecurity appears to be prevalent across all four states, but especially in Rivers and FCT Abuja where 79 percent of households and 72 percent of households respectively reported having to skip meals since the start of the pandemic.


  • Households in all four states are drawing down their savings and borrowing money to cover their living expenses, which may leave them more economically vulnerable and reduce their investments in human capital in the future.


  • More than 1 in 5 households in Kano and FCT Abuja and more than 1 in 10 households in Lagos and Rivers reported violating containment measures in order to maintain a living, emphasizing the tradeoffs households face between earning incomes and protecting their health.


  • The coverage of social assistance, in the form of free food, varied dramatically between the four states with 43 percent of households in Rivers having received food assistance since the start of the pandemic compared with just 5 percent of households in Kano (the state with the highest poverty headcount rate of the four); social assistance in cash or in kind was far rarer.


  • Despite some variation between the four states, the majority of households knew about the importance of washing hands with soap and water (at least three-quarters of households in each state) and using face masks (at least 80 percent of households in each state) to protect against COVID19.


To provide further state-level information on the impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian households, the Q2 2020 LFS can be complemented with subsequent rounds of the LFS as well as expanded rounds of the ongoing COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS).



This brief presents the findings of the second quarter (Q2) 2020 Nigeria Labor Force Survey (LFS) on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Kano, Lagos, Rivers, and FCT Abuja. The Q2 2020 LFS was conducted by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) between 17th June and 8th July 2020, collecting information on labor market outcomes as well as on households' response to COVID-19 via telephone calls. Since households responding to the Q2 2020 LFS were drawn from the same sample frame as the 2018/19 Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS), several key indicators - including employment and the sectoral composition of the workforce - can be approximately benchmarked against their pre-crisis levels.


Moreover, both the Q2 2020 LFS and the 2018/19 NLSS are representative at the state level, so information specific to Kano, Lagos, Rivers, and FCT Abuja - identified as priority states by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for Nigeria - can be provided for these states. The pre-crisis poverty headcount rates for these four states differed dramatically, motivating nuanced, state-specific policy responses; the share of the population living below the national poverty line in 2018/19 was 55 percent in Kano, 5 percent in Lagos, 24 percent in Rivers, and 39 percent in FCT Abuja.


The Q2 2020 LFS was undertaken as Nigeria's lockdown was eased, so the deepest short-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis will not be captured. By the time the Q2 2020 LFS began in June 2020, several of the most severe restrictions in place to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 had been lifted: for example, stay at requirements were relaxed and interstate travel was permitted. Moreover, data collected through the COVID-19 National Longitudinal Panel Survey (NLPS) suggest that many labor market outcomes, including the share of people working, at least partially recovered between April/May (the height of lockdown) and June.1 Nevertheless, the Q2 2020 LFS crucially captures some of the more persistent effects of the COVID19 crisis on Nigerian households.


Negative Consequences on Employment Persist

The share of Nigerians who were working appears to be lower than before the outbreak of COVID-19, especially in FCT Abuja. Comparing the 2018/19 NLSS and the Q2 2020 LFS, the share of working-age Nigerians engaged in some form of economic activity continued to be significantly lower in FCT Abuja in June/July 2020 compared to 2018/19 (by 14 percentage points), despite the easing of lockdown measures (see Figure 1). 2,3 In the other three states, there was still some decline in share of people working but it was not so severe: the share dropped by 1 percentage point in Kano, 7 percentage points in Lagos, and 5 percentage points in Rivers.


The Q2 2020 LFS also contains a set of household-level COVID-19-specific employment questions, which reinforce the finding that the share of people working may have dropped since the start of the pandemic. Across all four states, of those households in which someone was working in mid-March 2020, at least 5 percent reported that a household member had lost a job or changed activities. The results of the Q2 2020 LFS echo the national-level results from the NLPS, which demonstrate that, while the share of respondents working had almost halved between the outbreak and the period of strict lockdown in April/May, by June the share of respondents working had recovered substantially.


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