The ongoing humanitarian crisis in North East Nigeria, driven by the Boko Haram insurgency and the counter-insurgency operations by government and security forces, has left 7.9 million people1 in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these, more than 1.8 million are internally displaced. Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) States host the highest proportion of internally displaced persons, 54 per cent of them female.2 The current situation in the most conflictaffected states (the BAY states) presents a major challenge to efforts to mitigate the impact and spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nigeria. This is due to pre-existing vulnerabilities as well as overcrowded settlements inside and outside internally displaced person (IDP) camps, which make social distancing almost impossible.
To contain the spread of the virus, the Government of Nigeria has introduced several measures, including restricting movement and social gatherings. These measures, which are in line with global guidelines, are affecting humanitarian access and operations, resulting in a decreased capacity to reach the affected populations.
As women make up 81 per cent of the overall crisis population and 87 per cent of the newly displaced,3 the reduction in life-saving and recovery interventions has a disproportionate impact on women and girls. Similar to any other global emergency, the primary and secondary effects of COVID-19 will impact the lives of women, men, boys and girls differently, and emerging evidence suggests that the pandemic is magnifying existing inequalities, including gender inequalities. Therefore, understanding the gendered impact of COVID-19 is paramount to designing and implementing humanitarian assistance that effectively meets the needs of the affected population.
To achieve this, UN Women, CARE International and Oxfam conducted a joint Rapid Gender Analysis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States to understand the gender-related and comparative impact of COVID-19 on women, men, boys and girls. The purpose of this Rapid Gender Analysis is to inform the design, programming, implementation and monitoring of humanitarian response towards COVID-19, particularly for the North East region in Nigeria.
COVID-19 is amplifying deeply entrenched gender inequalities that are putting women at higher risk of the pandemic’s social and economic impact.
Water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as health services, are lacking or quite limited in IDP camps, making COVID-19 prevention measures severely inadequate.
The economic impact of COVID-19 is increasing stress and tension in households and leading to an increase in the frequency and severity of intimate partner and domestic violence, which disproportionately affects women and girls.
Loss of income among households is posing an alarming financial challenge and potentially affecting the current and future livelihoods of vulnerable households, especially female-headed households, as well as persons with disability.
There are limited prevention mechanisms and response services to address gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual and reproductive health for women and girls, including psychosocial support.
COVID-19 and associate measures to curb its spread, coupled with the security situation, are limiting humanitarian assistance, leading to a gap in meeting urgent humanitarian needs.
COVID-19 has disrupted income-generation activities and livelihoods, which results in pushing the affected population, especially women, back into extreme poverty.
The pandemic threatens to roll back even the limited gains made around women’s participation in leadership and decision-making structures across the BAY states, and any lost progress will take years to regain.
The prolonged closure of schools along with financial difficulties put girls at risk of child marriage.
Women and youth (both boys and girls) are generally missing from the decision-making structures, both at the community level and in high-level institutionalized decision-making processes.