Abstract: An Exploratory Study on the Impact of the Nigerian Welfare State on the Livelihood of Internally Displaced Persons during the Covid-19 Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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An Exploratory Study on the Impact of the Nigerian Welfare State on the Livelihood of Internally Displaced Persons during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Encanto B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Itunu Ilesanmi, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Asli Yalim, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Background and Purpose: The Covid-19 Pandemic is associated with significant economic instability in Nigeria and globally. This instability significantly impacts nations and impacts vulnerable groups such as internally displaced persons (IDPs), who rely on the country's welfare state to maintain a sense of livelihood, security, and safety. Following the forceful displacements of individuals from their homes and places of habitual residence and business, IDPs classified by their residency within their country settle in camps and host communities for safety, shelter, and the provision of their essential needs (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], 1998). The Guiding Principles on Internally Displacement (2004) provides that it is first the responsibility of the national governments and local authorities to see to the need of IDPs, and then international communities can participate; this interventive declaration summarizes the purpose of the welfare state system of a nation. This study explores the impact of the Nigerian welfare state on the livelihood of IDPs during the Covid-19 Pandemic by examining government-related procedures directed to support the well-being and livelihood of IDPs.

Methods: This study adopted the qualitative exploratory research design. The convenience sampling method was used to locate the sample population. IDPs in the camp in the Maiduguri metropolitan area, Borno State, Nigeria were reached through community leaders and humanitarian workers. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 IDPs (11 male, four females). The interviews were transcribed verbatim. The analysis included open and focused coding guided by the principles of grounded theory. Through a constant comparison method, themes were identified.

Results: Data analysis revealed four themes that explain the impact of the Nigerian Welfare State on the livelihood of IDPs during the Covid-19 Pandemic: the participants’ financial stability, income disparities, the welfare state, and gender-based support. The results indicated that adequate public awareness and sensitization were provided on the grounds of public attention to maintain the health and health-related safety of the population. Still, on the feet of financial stability, disparities in health services due to socioeconomic status and the welfare state concerning the economic and essential needs of the IDPs. There were also possible gaps, inefficient to no benefits, failed promises, and gender segregation in support from the government.

Conclusions and Implications: The study recommends implementing efficient and effective services that will see the needs of IDPs beyond the outbreak of diseases and their general well-being. Interventions should consider gender-specific barriers and gaps and adapted to the specific context and population targeted. The dissemination of financial support should specifically target vulnerable women and the government must ensure the continuation of reproductive health services, as essential services under the COVID-19 response. It is critically important that the Nigerian Government needs to step up their commitment to mobilizing more public health resources to be better prepared for outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic and preventive measures for people affected by humanitarian crises.