GCRF_NF119 Poverty, vulnerability and crime: What does COVID-19 mean for Nigerian street vendors?

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:0 publications

Grant number: EP/V028014/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    Nigeria, Africa
  • Lead Research Institution

    University of Sussex
  • Research Category

    Secondary impacts of disease, response & control measures

  • Research Subcategory

    Social impacts

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Adults (18 and older)

  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



Since the novel coronavirus hit countries and communities around the world, the global response has included strict lockdown and social distancing measures. The Nigerian Federal Government (FG) has largely copied these measures and imposed an indefinite ban on street vending across the country. But how sustainable are these measures given their devastating effects on millions of Nigerian street vendors? Is a total ban on street vending the right approach? How are street vendors coping? Are they prepared to engage in crime, and if so, what types of criminal activity? What immediate actions can government take to support street vendors during and beyond COVID-19? Bringing together an ambitious team of UK- and Nigeria-based researchers, working in partnership with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Justice, our project seeks to provide urgent solutions to these critical questions. Street vending is the foremost manifestation of Nigeria's informal economy, accounting for over 70% of the country's urban employment. The vendors offer a wide range of goods and services for sale in public spaces and earn a living either through daily monetary transactions or the exchange of services through bartering. Many battle poor hygiene, diseases, economic hardship, drug abuse, prostitution, physical and sexual abuse - all of which have worsened since the onset of COVID-19. Despite recent FG's move to ease lockdown and social distancing restrictions, the continued ban on street vending in fact threatens the lives and livelihoods of these informal workers. Responding to the UKRI GCRF/Newton Fund call, our project will provide new insights on the most pressing socioeconomic difficulties facing the poorest and most vulnerable people in Nigeria. We will focus on how COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures have worsened the socioeconomic plights of Nigerian street vendors (e.g., loss of income and hunger), their coping strategies, as well as their susceptibility to crime (e.g., burglary, prostitution and illegal drugs trade). We will also explore street vendors' perspective on what government and policymakers can do to assist them urgently. Using a qualitative research approach, our 18-month project will achieve lasting impact on government policy through in-depth interviews on street vendors' experiences and reactions to COVID-19 lockdown, and also three workshop events aimed at creating new co-produced evidence alongside government representatives, policymakers and street vendors themselves. Findings from our project will provide actionable knowledge to help improve the FG's understanding of, and response to, the COVID-19 outbreak and wider concerns around job creation, crime prevention and social protection for the poor and most vulnerable in society.