Tuesday, July 14, 2020 / 01:17 PM / by NBS / Header Image Credit: NBS
This brief presents findings of the second round of the Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone survey (COVID-19 NLPS) conducted in June 2020. In April 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with support from the World Bank, launched the COVID-19 NLPS; a monthly survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,9501 households to monitor the economic impact of the pandemic and other shocks. The first round (baseline) of the survey was conducted in April/ May 2020, during which a federally mandated lockdown was in full effect. The second round was conducted between June 2-16, 2020, after some of the restrictions on movement had been lifted.
Knowledge, Practice & Basic Needs
Many respondents are practicing safety measures when they go out in public. The baseline showed that after the initial lockdown, about 60% of respondents were aware of at least one safety measure to minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Of these, 97% reported being aware of handwashing as a particularly critical measure, with a significant number reporting being aware of the usefulness of wearing a mask, not touching their faces, and social distancing. This round, conducted after some of the restrictions had been lifted, shows that 73% of respondents wear a mask and 77% wash their hands all or most of the time after being in public, with over 60% of respondents doing both all of the time. Only 8% of respondents reported not wearing a mask at all and 2% reported not washing their hands when going out in public.
Despite high awareness of safety measures, almost a quarter of respondents do not have sufficient soap to wash their hands. In the baseline, soap and cleaning supplies were the most commonly needed items, and most families confirmed that they were able to purchase soap when needed. In June however, nearly a quarter (24%) of households did not have sufficient soap to wash their hands and about 7% of households also reported insufficient access to water for handwashing. Poorer households were more likely to have insufficient access to soap and water to wash their hands.
The share of households with school-aged children in which the children had contact with their teachers increased considerably from 19% in April/May to 35% in June, despite schools still being closed during the second-round interviews in June. However, the share of such households engaging in any educational activities remained stable at about 61%. Children in urban households are more likely to engage in educational activities (73% of households with school-aged children) compared to those in rural households (57% of households with school-aged children), though no similar urban-rural gap exists for contact with teachers.
Employment And Livelihood
The share of people working has risen substantially since the beginning of May 2020. In April/May 2020, just 43% of respondents reported that they were working, meaning that about half of those respondents who were working before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak had stopped working. Yet, in June 2020, around 71% of respondents reported that they were working, indicating that the share of respondents working recovered substantially as the lockdown restrictions were eased in May. Nevertheless, the share of respondents who were working in June was still lower than prior to the outbreak, indicating that the pandemic continues to limit individuals' work opportunities.
The shortage of water for drinking and washing hands faced by households was primarily due either to a disruption in the supply or inability to access the source of water. However, a large share of households also reported that they could not afford to buy sufficient supplies of water (17% for drinking water and 28% for hand washing water). The main reason households reported not having sufficient soap to wash their hands was inability to afford enough soap (79%) .
Between April/May and June, the share of respondents who were working increased in both urban and rural areas, but the loss of work since the start of the outbreak continues to be larger for urban dwellers. While around 75% of rural respondents were working in June, 64% of urban respondents were working. Nevertheless, the recovery in the share of respondents who were working has been more pronounced in urban areas, although, in part, this is because the initial drop in the share of respondents who were working was larger for urban dwellers.
The commerce and services sectors - those hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis - experienced among the largest recoveries in the share of respondents who were working, while many of those returning to work engaged in agriculture. Of the 57% of respondents who were not working in April/May, a little under 60% had returned to work by June, while around 40% were still not working. Many of those returning to work (23% of those who were not working in April/May) started or resumed work in the agricultural sector.2 Yet relatively large shares of respondents who were not working in April/ May reported working in commerce (17%) and services (15%) in June.
Non-farm household businesses and agriculture are the most important income-generating activities for Nigerian workers. Of those respondents who were working in June, 42% reported that their main job was in a non-farm household business while a further 46% reported that their main job was in agriculture.
By contrast, just 12% of working respondents reported that their main job was in wage-employment, either for the government or a private company.
Despite the observed increase in the share of respondents working, income from non-farm household businesses - which are mainly concentrated in commerce and services - remains precarious. Around 53% of households had a non-farm household business in April/May or before mid-March 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis hit Nigeria, while 49% of households reported operating a non-farm business in June. Almost 62% of the businesses operating in June were engaged in commerce and a further 31% were engaged in services. In April/May, 81% of households owning a non-farm business either earned less revenue than they did in mid-March 2020 or earned no revenue at all. In June, 56% of households owning a non-farm business either earned less revenue than they did in April/May or earned no revenue at all. Thus, the COVID-19 crisis continues to place downward pressure on non-farm business revenues, even if individuals are returning to work.
Those engaged in non-farm household businesses reported facing challenges associated with COVID-19. The most widely-reported challenges faced by non-farm businesses are difficulty raising money (87% of households owning non-farm businesses), difficulty buying and receiving supplies and inputs (77% of households owning non-farm businesses), and difficulty selling goods and services (70% of households owning non-farm businesses). These challenges persist across both urban and rural areas. This suggests that both input and output markets continue to be disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Even agriculture, which may be regarded as more robust to the effects of the pandemic than other sectors, is clearly being affected by the current crisis. Since the sectoral GDP shock for agriculture is forecast to be less severe than in industry or services, and households engaged in subsistence agriculture may require less interaction with other market participants than those engaged in other income generating activities, it may appear a priori that farm work is less susceptible to the COVID-19 crisis. Farming remains crucial for Nigerian households, either as a source of income or a direct means of providing food, and a little over three quarters of households are engaged in some type of agricultural activity during the 2020 agricultural season. Nevertheless, of those households engaging in agricultural activity, around 38% reported having to modify their farming plans due to COVID-19; out of these, 52% reported reducing the area they planted, 30% planted crops that take less time to mature, and another 25% reported delaying planting time.
Even though the working situation seems to be improving with the easing of the lockdown, Nigerian workers are facing challenges in all sectors of the economy. Future rounds of the COVID19 NLPS will help ascertain whether the return to work witnessed in June will be sufficient for households to meet their basic needs and whether it will be sustained as the economic and health crisis continues.
Food Security and Safety Nets
The food security situation in Nigeria has substantially worsened since the start of the pandemic. About 30% of households interviewed in June experienced severe food insecurity due to lack of money or other resources. The incidence of severe food insecurity in June 2020 was nearly 3 times higher than in July/August 2018 and nearly 6 times higher than in January/February 2019. Moreover, 77% of households interviewed in June reported moderate or severe food insecurity.
There has not been any significant improvement in safety nets or other sources of income assistance from institutions and/or remittances. In June, there was virtually no change in the provision of safety nets; 13% of households received food assistance, while 2% of households reported having received a direct cash transfer. Informal mechanisms of support from friends and family seem to be affected with the share of households receiving remittances from within Nigeria decreasing from 22% in April/May to 18% in June.
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