Even before the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the crisis in Northeast Nigeria is one of the most severe in the world today. In the 3 most affected states in 2020, 7.9 million out of 13 million people needed humanitarian assistance—up 11% from 2019. 79% of the displaced people are women and children.
Compounding this crisis, by July 2, 2020, Nigeria reported 26,484 cases and 603 deaths—a dramatic growth in cases over the month of June. While men make up 68% of the cases, women are bearing a higher burden of mobility restrictions, economic loss, and restricted access to services.
This Rapid Gender Analysis reviewed secondary data and conducted interviews with 109 people between May 6th and May 21st, 2020 in the three Northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe where UN Women, CARE International and Oxfam operate.
• Health workers are afraid to serve IDPs. Both men and women reported that accessing health services at the clinic is difficult because health workers are afraid the IDP population may infect them with the virus. More than 40% of Nigerian health infrastructure is damaged due to the conflict, severely limiting health access.
• Gender-based violence services are not considered essential. In Northeast Nigeria, there are women in all the COVID-19 related committees, but they do not have decision-making roles. Consequently, these bodies do not consider GBV and protection services essential. This is a special concern as 30% of Nigerian women and girls (age 15-49 years) have experienced some form of violence.
• Child marriage and child abuse are increasing. COVID-19 has increased the risk of teenage pregnancy, with girls out of school and with lower access to health services. This will likely prevent many girls from returning to school as Sierra Leone’s the Ebola outbreak showed. Liberia experienced higher rates of child abuse, child labour, and child marriage during the Ebola epidemic. In Northeast Nigeria there is a heightened risk for girls from lower income families to early and forced child marriage as their families look towards reducing the number of mouths to feed in their homes.