Niger Delta Covid-19 Response Project

April-June 2020


This project aims to contribute to wider efforts to slow and minimise transmission of Coronavirus Covid-19, and also to mitigate the negative social, economic, and security impacts of both the virus and the response to it. The project will complement existing public health messaging by improving communication of these messages to hard-to-reach communities in the Niger Delta, particularly in Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta states. Part of this effort will be focused on supporting the state governments’ response to Covid-19 by ensuring they are briefed on community perceptions and impacts, and are offered technical support to bolster their digital outreach.


This project aims to reduce the number of people in the Niger Delta exposed to Covid-19, and to mitigate damage to the economy and stability by:

  1. improving the public’s understanding, especially in targeted states and in hard-to-reach areas, of how they can act to reduce Covid-19 transmission.
  2. supporting state governments to increase community and external stakeholder engagement to inform their response to Covid-19, and its economic consequences.

Key activities

  • Daily airing of jingles and direct engagement of on air personalities in the Niger Delta, to complement a schedule of radio shows dedicated to Covid-19 messaging.
  • Conduct a regular check-in with existing community networks across Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta states to understand how the Covid-19 response is affecting the public.
  • Harness church networks as a primary channel for communication on the reasons why State-driven Covid-19 containment measures are in place, and to reinforce accurate public health messaging around individual behaviours that can reduce spread.
  • Support state ministries of health to improve social media communication, build on key messages, and dispel trending fake news.
  • Regular briefings to the international community on the situation in the Niger Delta, and suggest actions that can be taken to support and improve the Covid-19 response in the region.


There is limited public understanding of Covid-19, compounded by the problems of fake news, and limited capacity to respond, an issue most acute in rural areas. There were 4,399 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria as of May 11, 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic brings into focus the severe challenges that Nigeria’s healthcare system faces—mainly severe underfunding and limited infrastructure. In 2020, only 4.5% of the total federal budget was allocated to health, a far cry from its 2001 pledge to allocate 15% of its annual budget. A recent appraisal on the country’s preparedness in the event of a national outbreak also revealed that there were only 350 ICU beds in the country. It is, therefore, vital to reduce transmission—while also laying the foundations for collaboration where there is a significant increase in Covid-19 incidence in Nigeria. As well as a public health crisis, this would have consequences for Nigeria’s—particularly the Niger Delta’s—economy and security, as this pandemic coincides with globally depressed oil prices, an export that Nigeria’s economy is heavily dependent.

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Project resources

Funders and Partners

Published: 20.05.2020