The year 2020 has been unique in many ways and has been shaping our history in ways we never thought possible. It is no news that some major cities in Nigeria are currently under #lockdown in a bid to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. While this is a good measure, we simply cannot ignore some underlying assumptions for this kind of action. To this end, I have identified 5 assumptions about the current lockdown in cities like Lagos and Abuja in a bid to direct our attention to critical areas for social intervention.
These assumptions are as follows:
- We all can do some panic buying: This assumption that we all can stock up our houses with food and all necessary supplies within short notice is faulty. This undermines the rate of poverty and inequality in the country. While it is easy for some people to do some panic buying and have supplies that will last them for months, it is much more challenging for some other people. If you have noticed the spending habits of people from low-income households, you will discover that these people buy what they can afford per day. They would rather buy 5 milk tins of rice and some condiments every other day than buy a small bag of rice that can last for weeks. Therefore, in all our humanitarian efforts during this period, let’s remember people who could not afford the ‘#panic buying’.
- We all have jobs that will be waiting for us after the lockdown: Another assumption of this lockdown period is that we all have jobs that we can resume later after the lockdown. This is not true. Some people thrive on the ‘daily economy’. Many informal workers who operate in the ‘no work, no pay’ system do not have any means of livelihood at this time. Additionally, some people whose nature of the job makes it unsuitable to work from home also risk losing their jobs and compensation at this time. It would be fair to state that appropriate safety net programs should be designed and implemented to assuage the fears of this group of people.
- We all have access to clean water: There is no doubt that handwashing has been highly recommended as one of the safety precautions against the Corona Virus. We are being encouraged to wash our hands as frequently as possible with soap, under running taps. This comes with the assumption that we all have access to clean tap water. Like other assumptions, this does not portray the true state of our basic social amenities. It is not all households that have access to portable pipe-borne water. As a result, it would be good if corporate organizations can have some community water projects as their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). By doing this, we will be promoting good #handwashing hygiene and supplying communities with clean water
- We all understand the term “social distance”: Whether we call it social distance or physical distance, some of us understand the reason for keeping a safe space with people now than ever before. Unfortunately, not everyone understands what social distance really means. During this lockdown period, I have watched people sit together in small groups to play games and engage in other activities in order to break the boredom. I think we need to do better jobs at communicating why people should observe social distance during this time
- We all understand English: Most of the communication materials on the COVID-19 outbreak have been in English. In as much as English is Nigeria’s official language, it would be better to have information about such a pandemic in other local languages. This will go a long way in spreading the message to the grassroots much faster. We need to have more sensitization in local languages.
To sum up, the COVID-19 lockdown period in Nigeria presents several learning points for everyone. Let’s pick out the lessons from these assumptions and address our unique situations so that we come out of this time, stronger and better as a community social interventions development and CSR.
Written by: Anifat Ibrahim, Research Associate | Project Management Professional (PMP).