GRID3 data as a building block for COVAX interventions: spotlight on Nigeria microplanning

May 18, 2021

Ninety million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are to be distributed within the African continent in the first quarter of 2021, with another 600 million by the end of the year. In Nigeria, about four million doses were shipped in March, marking a key milestone in the COVAX roadmap to enable equitable worldwide access to COVID-19 vaccines.

To plan and implement efficient COVID-19 immunisation campaigns, Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) joined forces with GRID3 Nigeria to support COVID-19 vaccine delivery and access strategies across the country. This work is one example of how GRID3, one of the COVAX technical partners, aims to support sub-Saharan African governments’ efforts to end the pandemic.

How Nigeria is using GIS maps to support COVAX microplanning

Like many other countries on the continent, Nigeria was hit hard by the second wave of the epidemic at the start of 2021, registering three times more cases in the first two weeks of January than in all of November 2020. The federal government, working closely with state governments, ministries, and agencies, is now focusing on controlling the spread of the coronavirus through vaccination, with health workers and vulnerable populations vaccinated first.

Microplanning is an essential tool for successful vaccination interventions. Microplans consolidate data from various sources to determine the amount of vaccines required based on the targeted population; staff resources needed to deliver the vaccines; location of vaccination sites; and the strategy required to vaccinate the population in each settlement. To support the development of these microplans, GRID3 Nigeria through NASRDA, produced and printed geographic information system-based maps for the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria. These maps were delivered to the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of NPHCDA, who then distributed them to the states to support implementation and data validation.

As co-chair of GRID3 Nigeria’s National Steering Committee, I am very proud of the team’s responsiveness in providing NPHCDA with catchment area maps for COVID-19 vaccinations. This work is helping to assist health workers in the microplanning process taking place across the country,” says Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Examples of GRID3 maps produced for COVAX interventions in Nigeria


The maps display the locations of vaccination sites and their surrounding 2, 5, and 10km areas, which is needed to determine the vaccination strategy. They also show the locations of other healthcare facilities and infrastructure (such as schools, prisons, and internally displaced persons’ camp survey points), settlement names, as well as gridded population estimates. These maps also include tables summarising total population per ward (the smallest administrative unit in Nigeria), total population for those 50 years or older (who will be targeted in the second phase of the vaccination process), as well as comorbidity risk1 per ward.

“As of 22 March, the effort to fully vaccinate the eligible population has commenced in over 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory, while 4 States – Kogi, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Oyo – have yet to begin implementation. The GIS maps distributed across the 774 LGAs are very useful to the health workers for an effective microplanning process as we advance to the next phases of the COVID-19 vaccination, targeting the elderly that are 50 years and above, people with comorbidities, and the rest of the population. The maps provide the population estimates at a very granular level where the target groups will be reached. In collaboration with GRID3 Nigeria, the NPHCDA also deployed the Geospatial Tracking System (GTS) to track state supervisors on the field to ensure team performance, accountability, and coverage, making sure that the target populations are vaccinated,” states Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director/CEO of NPHCDA.

Based on national vaccination strategies, these maps can be used to shape registration plans and identify eligible populations, determine vaccination supply-chain requirements in a given LGA (e.g. vaccines, number of teams for house-to-house registration and vaccinations, number of devices, PPEs and other supplies), or be used to inform the location of additional vaccination sites or temporary fixed posts. In addition, the maps can help pinpoint wards that have the highest comorbidity risks and  require special teams deployment.

GRID3 data as foundation for COVAX interventions

GRID3’s COVAX work in Nigeria is an example of how geospatial data can be utilised to support immunisation strategies in times of crisis. GRID3 can support governments in utilising such data for a wide range of health outcomes. Whether this is to inform microplanning, improve supply chain management, identify areas where physical distancing measures might be difficult to comply with, optimise the placement of additional vaccination sites or  prioritise the deployment of human resources, geospatial data has a central role to play in the COVAX response.

“The COVAX initiative is essential to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines across the globe. Geospatial data and technologies such as the ones provided by GRID3 are critical in the successful delivery of immunisation programmes,” concludes Io Blair-Freese, Program Officer, Global Delivery Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

1 The comorbidity risk layer refers to the percentage of population living in a household that is at risk of severe COVID-19 infection, as proxied by indicators of respiratory and general health. Households are considered to be at-risk if at least one member of the household is elderly or has difficulty walking or climbing steps, if there is daily smoking of tobacco in the household, or if the household uses unsafe cooking practices. Unsafe cooking practices are defined as using kerosene, biomass or coal for cooking indoors.

Featured photo credit: Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, @ClemAgba, Twitter

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