About seven in every ten households residing in Abuja and Rivers experienced food insecurity in the second quarter of the year (Q2 2020), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
The bureau also said the number of people engaged in economic activities in some states was lower in June/July 2020 than before the COVID-19 crisis.
This is contained in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) released by the NBS Thursday, to ascertain crucial information on the effects of COVID-19 on households in Kano, Lagos, Rivers and Abuja (Nigeria’s capital city).
The LFS was officially conducted between June 17 and July 8, a timeframe that coincides with the period when Nigeria’s lockdown was eased and several restrictions measures in place to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 had been lifted.
According to the survey, food insecurity appears to be prevalent across all four states, “but especially in Rivers and FCT” where about seven in ten households (79 per cent and 72 per cent respectively) reported having to skip meals since the start of the pandemic.
“The share of households that ran out of food because of lack of money or other resources was 58 per cent in Rivers and 67 per cent in Abuja.
“Households in all four states are drawing down their savings and borrowing money to cover their living expenses, which may leave them more economically vulnerable and reduce their investments in human capital in the future,” the bureau said.
The survey also found that even though some people have resumed work, incomes may still be precarious, “with larger shares if workers in Kano and Rivers engaged in agriculture and a smaller share of workers in Lagos engaged in industry than before the COVID-19 crisis”.
The statistics agency said distribution of palliatives in form of free food, varied dramatically between the four states with 43 per cent of households in Rivers having received food assistance since the start of the pandemic compared with just 5 per cent of households in Kano. It said social assistance in cash or in kind was rare.
Findings in the survey resonate at a time Nigeria’s unemployment crisis rages. The new rate of unemployment is 27.1 per cent as of the second quarter of 2020.
An August report, also by the NBS, showed that Rivers has a total of 1.7 million unemployed persons, making it the second state with the highest rate of unemployment in the country.
Kano has 1.4 million unemployed persons while Lagos has a total of 1.3 million unemployed persons.
The FCT was distant with 515,000 estimated unemployed persons as of Q2 2020.