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Poverty dynamics amidst multiple crises in Nigeria

Two in five Nigerians lived in poverty in 2018/19, representing around 83 million of the country’s population (National Bureau of Statistics, 2019). During the pandemic, 10 million additional people were estimated to be living in poverty by 2022 (World Bank, 2020). Underlying these figures is the mobility of households into and out of poverty, with considerable downward mobility in a context of varied risks and multiple crises including climate-related disasters, conflict, and the Covid-19 pandemic both in terms of health and economic crises.

This paper examines three crises, namely Covid-19, conflict (focused on the Boko Haram and Fulani militia violence), disasters (droughts and floods) and their relationship with household poverty dynamics in Nigeria. To do so, it newly brings together five large datasets comprising:

• four waves of the Nigeria General Household Survey Panel from 2010/11-18/19;
• seventeen rounds of the Covid-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey 2020-22;
• the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) yearly data from 2010-22;
• the Global Flood Observatory yearly data from 2010-18; and
• the Climate Research Unit gridded Time Series yearly data on drought from 2010-20.

The results of the analysis pointed to high rates of chronic and transient poverty, particularly in Nigeria’s Northern states where conflict and disasters were also prevalent. We find that there is a multi-pronged relationship between exposure to violence and negative poverty trajectories. Households residing in areas of Boko Haram violence against civilians resulting in fatalities experienced a higher probability of chronic poverty and a lower probability of resilience.

Crises can reinforce each other and influence poverty dynamics and well-being in an interactive way. Policy instruments should therefore be well-coordinated and consider these crises together.

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