Experts Raise Concern Over COVID-19 Impact on Nigeria’s Poverty Index
By Flora Bossey
There may be no agreement as to the authentic data on the poverty situation in Nigeria; the fact that there is poverty is incontrovertible.
According to the World Bank data made available on its online 2020 overview of its work in Nigeria has an estimated population of about 202 million people.
Out of this figure, nationally, 40 percent of Nigerians (83 million people) live below the poverty line while another 25 percent (53 million people) are vulnerable. With COVID-19, many of these 53 million vulnerable people could fall into poverty.
Nigeria has been made highly vulnerable to the global economic disruption caused by COVID-19, particularly due to the pronounced decline in oil prices and spikes in risk aversion in global capital markets adds the World Bank.
The situation is more gloomy as the World Bank affirms that in the current situation, Nigeria has fewer buffers and policy instruments to cushion adverse effects of the economic situation.
As part of government effort to reduce infections and curb the spread of COVID -19, Nigeria received Four million doses of the Oxford Astrazeneca Vaccine courtesy of the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, GAVI, UNICEF and WHO; another batch 117,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was received in August 2021 through the African Union.
High rate of vaccine hesitancy has trailed the vaccination exercise and this has forced a few states such as Edo state to consider using stringent measures to increase demand for the vaccine.
Some residents interviewed disclosed that when people have no jobs, they are contending with high price of food and low purchasing power, vaccination is the least of their priorities.
One respondent suggested that rather than force people to take the vaccine, some kind of incentive such as food packs should be attached to the vaccine, adding that this will encourage more persons to voluntarily come forward to take the vaccine as provision of food addresses the needs of the people at this time.
A Public Affairs Analyst, Dr Okunzuwa Osawaru agrees that in developing world generally, preventive health services are a luxury, people who live below the poverty line do not need a Doctor until they fall sick.
Osawaru as part of the general under-development in Nigeria, religious beliefs of the people also contributes to the COVID-19 hesitancy, citing the ‘unholy triad’ or ‘unholy trinity’ — poverty, ignorance and disease are factors to consider in the country’s situation as it stands today.
Development experts believe that poverty reinforces ignorance, ignorance reinforces disease and disease reinforces poverty in a vicious cycle.
The situation, particularly how the effects of COVID-19, calls for policy makers to look critically and design programmes to address the issue of poverty, hunger and the healthcare system in Nigeria including economic recovery.
“This OUTBREAK story was supported by Code for Africa’s WanaData program as part of the Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge hosted by l’Agence française de développement (AFD), Expertise France, and The GovLab“