FEATURE18 March 2021

Overcoming barriers: WhatsApp research with women in Nigeria

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Covid-19 Features Impact Middle East and Africa Mobile Technology

Basis used WhatsApp to access hard-to-reach communities and explore Nigerian women’s experiences of the pandemic. By Charlotte Smith.

Overcoming barriers - feb- 21

Covid-19 has impacted research in many ways, not least face-to-face qualitative studies. Basis was conducting digital research in many parts of the world before March 2020, but less so in developing markets. The challenges are different: connectivity, the affluence skew, and levels of digital and basic literacy.

Nigeria is hugely complex and often poorly understood. In parts of northern Nigeria, it’s not unusual for women to spend much of their time at home, for safety or cultural reasons; we hadn’t been allowed to travel there for face-to-face fieldwork by insurers previously. We know the impact of Covid-19 on women’s daily lives worldwide is typically greater than for men – and, in Nigeria, we hypothesised this may be more acute.

We began a digital-only study with women across Nigeria, focused on their daily lives post-pandemic and women’s roles and social norms. We ran two project stages on WhatsApp with 34 women – starting with a diverse group across the ...