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Coronavirus worsens hunger situation in Lagos

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THE economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the plight of families living in poverty in Lagos State, Nigeria and left many people struggling to afford food and meet other basic needs, Human Rights Watch and Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI) said in a report released today. The number of Nigerians experiencing hunger doubled during the pandemic.

  Survey data shows federal and state government support, including cash transfers and food assistance, reached only a fraction of families going hungry.  

  The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the critical need for a functioning social security system to allow all Nigerians to achieve an adequate standard of living.

  The 87-page report, “’Between Hunger and the Virus,’ The Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People Living in Poverty in Lagos, Nigeria,” documents how a five-week lockdown, rising food prices, and a prolonged economic downturn have had a devastating impact on informal workers, slum dwellers, and other urban poor families in Lagos. The absence of a functioning social security system meant that government assistance, including cash transfers and food handouts, reached only a fraction of people going hungry.

transfers and food handouts, reached only a fraction of people going hungry.

  “The troubling reality of the COVID-19 crisis for many families in Lagos has been hunger and deprivation,” said Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “With people still battling every day for survival, the pandemic has highlighted the critical need for a functioning social security system that will allow all Nigerians to achieve an adequate standard of living.”

  The World Bank forecasted in January 2021 that the COVID-19 crisis will result in an additional 10.9 million Nigerians entering poverty by 2022, defined as people living below the national poverty line of around $1 a day. In Lagos State, high levels of urban poverty – most of the state’s more than 20 million residents live in slums or informal settlements – left people vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic.

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