Researchers are conducting a series of phone surveys to study the economic, social and security impacts of COVID-19 among informal sector vendors in Lagos, Africa’s largest city (with a population of more than 24 million). The survey capitalizes on prior work with a representative sample of market vendors, making rapid data collection at a distance feasible among this otherwise hard-to-reach population. Their experiences are indicative of those of a large and particularly vulnerable subset of the population in Africa–actors in the urban informal economy–who live day to day and whose economic activities will be deeply impacted by the crisis. These individuals can face economic risk and other personal risks. The surveys will collect information about these risks, and strategies by vendors and their marketplace associations to mitigate risks. Researchers are measuring whether some groups, ethnic minorities and women in particular, are differentially vulnerable, and others differentially resilient. The aim of the project is to inform policymakers about the distribution of needs among informal vendors as well as which groups are more likely to demand and take up state-provided services.

Study Type:
April 2020-December 2021
Implemented by IPA:
Impact Goals:
Build resilient and adaptable businesses and employment opportunities; Improve social-safety net responses; Promote peace and safety, and improve humanitarian response
Outcomes of Interest:
Economic, social and security impacts of COVID-19 among informal sector vendors
External Website:
Results Status:
Final results are forthcoming 
Key Findings:
Round 1 (May 2020 survey) Results Brief:
  • The economic impact of COVID-19 has been especially severe for members of the informal economy.
  • Risk and resilience among this population are unequal.
  • Identity, not poverty, is the most important driver of risk and resilience among vendors in Lagos.
  • The crisis has also increased social polarization among groups.
Washington Post article: "How the coronavirus pandemic is fueling ethnic hatred."