The outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as reported December 2019  has continued to evolve since it was declared by WHO as a pandemic, creating challenging medical, social and economic crises globally with unprecedented impact across all dimensions of life as we know it.


Nigeria recorded her first case on the 27th of February, when an Italian citizen returning from Milan Italy,  tested positive in Lagos. In a bid to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, President Buhari announced a cessation of movement in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States on the 29th of March.  During this time, businesses and offices remained closed, and people directed to stay at home for a period of 2 weeks. The first 2-week restriction was extended on Monday the 13th of April, to cover an additional two week period.


Over the past years, the International Donor Community in Nigeria made investments and plans targeted at creating interventions to facilitate economic growth, strengthen systems and encourage innovations to boost incomes for pro-poor by targeting opportunities to scale up. These interventions now stand the risk of being disrupted by the COVID-19 challenge.


Nigeria, even before the pandemic, had been struggling with declining macroeconomic indicators like relatively low oil prices resulting in the downward revision of the GDP growth rate from 2.5% to 2%,  and a worsening debt service-to-revenue ratio, currently placed at 60%. These factors will aggravate the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the system and make it more difficult for individuals to weather the crisis. These factors could impact the already weakening and dwindling scales and indices for the small-scale entrepreneurs and the pro-poor.


A key challenge arising from the spread of COVID-19 has meant growing disruptions to global supply chains and significant hits to planned International Development project timelines and operations, without a clear end in sight. Leaders in the International Development space, face tough decisions that put their values and resolve to the test. Where do they draw the line between risk mitigation and a focus on delivering the outcomes to impact the recipients of donor funds in times of this challenge?


In a series of publications, we will examine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability of donor agencies and international execution partners to carry on impactful projects in Nigeria, during this unprecedented and challenging event.

  • How do they maintain the safety of their teams while achieving target impact for beneficiary communities?
  • How do they re-imagine their overall strategy and execution plan
  • How are global donors leading through this crisis and what we might learn from their experiences?
  • How are recipients and communities faring with the attendant uncertainties from COVID-19?
  • What business continuity plans help projects deliver value while trying to ensure safety for employees and communities?
  • If the situation sustains and the impact grows, how do projects recover and ensure continuity of care?
  • How do project owners redefine operating models to accommodate exigencies while meeting timelines?


Written by:

Onyanta Faith Banjo

Executive Assistant to the Chairman

Olubukola Kunlere

Executive Assistant to the MD