COVID-19 Vulnerability and Multi-Sectoral Needs of Host Communities - Mairi, Mashamari & Maimusari, Jere LGA, Borno State, Nigeria (July 2020)

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As the conflict in Nigeria continues through its tenth year, the needs of populations across the North East remain dire. According to the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), approximately 7.9 million people depended on life saving assistance, and 1.8 million people were displaced from their homes at the start of 2020. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitatian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that the number of people in need of life saving assistance has risen to 10.6 million since the onset of COVID-19.

Over 60% of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the three most conflict affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY states) reside within host communities. Heavy migration of IDPs to these areas stretches already limited services and livelihoods, and makes it more difficult for humanitarian actors to identify and reach those in need. In densely populated host communities with limited health and hygiene infrastructure, the outbreak and spread of disease is a grave concern. The official entry of COVID-19 into the BAY states in April amplifies this threat, making a detailed understanding of these communities needs and demographics vital to enacting effective prevention and response measures, both for displaced populations and non-displaced, crisis-affected residents.

Informal settlements (ISETs) constitute an even more vulnerable subset of host communities. ISETs are typically characterized by poor infrastructure, residents’ lack of secure housing or tenure, and marginalization, preventing equal access to basic services.4 Consequently, residents of ISETs may be exposed to heightened risk, including to harmful effects as a result of COVID-19. As part of this assessment, REACH attempted to determine which host community settlements are most likely to encompass ISETs within their boundaries, a key factor in determining relative levels of vulnerability across local government administrations (LGAs). In designing this assessment, sectors and partners were consulted on geographic coverage, and indicators used. In particular, information gaps identified by the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster (CCCM) pertaining to host communities and informal settlements played a critical role.

For this assessment, REACH interviewed 69 key informants (KIs) from 23 settlements in the Mairi, Mashamari, and Maimusari wards of Jere LGA to gain a better understanding of how needs and vulnerabilities have shifted since the first confirmed case COVID-19 in the BAY states in April.5 While COVID-19 is predominately a health and hygiene issue, it has also impacted, among other sectors, the livelihoods, protection, and education of communities, making a multi-sectoral approach to this assessment critical.

All interviews were conducted by telephone. Three KIs were contacted per settlement.6 In all interviews, KIs were asked to answer questions on behalf of all settlement residents, unless otherwise stated. Data collection occurred remotely between July 6 and July 17, 2020. All findings presented here are indicative only, not representative, and should be triangulated before use in programming. For all 196 profiled settlements across all LGAs, 99.9% of KIs were familiar with COVID-19, and 94.7% believed that measures needed to be taken to protect their community from the virus.