How NBS used mobile technology to assess conflicts, food security challenges

In a bid to get a better understanding of the impact of conflicts and food insecurity in parts of Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently used mobile technology to collect information from respondents, particularly in difficult to reach areas, with medium to high telephone density.

The pilot exercise was conducted in the North East, North Central and South-South Geo-political zones of the country.

Respondents were selected from the three geo-political zones based on house-hold and community levels, with each of them asked to recall conflicts that occurred within the last seven years in their environment.

The survey showed that between 2010 and 2017 on the average, at least 3.4% of households from the North-East were affected by the Boko haram insurgency; 3.1% of North-Central households were directly affected by the herdsmen/farmers conflict; with the Niger Delta militancy affecting 2.5% of South-South households.

The NBS observed that: “Many conflict events are never reported to authorities; engaging community and religious leaders in surveillance may improve rates of reporting events and improve overall understanding of the changing context of conflict and violence across Nigeria.

It also noted that only a small minority of conflict-affected households receive any type of assistance in support of their recovery – increased reporting and a stronger response system may aid in post-conflict rehabilitation.

“Sustained conflict is known to be both caused by and contribute to poverty; however, according to our findings wealth does not protect households from exposure to conflict and violence in the surveyed areas of Nigeria,” the research report said.

“Phone-based data collection can improve understanding of conflict and violence, especially in areas where insecurity prevents face-to-face access to community members.”

On food security, the survey revealed that 79% of households in the North-East where food insecure, with the North-Central recording 71% and South-South 74%.

“Markets are the main source of food, and there is plenty of food available in the market. However, high food prices are the largest concern in all three regions, which is in line with high (national) food inflation rates.

“The relationship between household characteristics and food security vary regionally, but some patterns emerge: Larger households are more likely to be food insecure, more educated households more food secure,” the NBS said.

The NBS warned that the North East was seeing an influx of internally displaced people moving back from refugee camps, which would increase future demand for food.