Summary Objective To determine the willingness to pay (WTP) for local ivermectin distribution in a community financing framework. Method Contingent valuation in three communities in Nigeria, using randomly selected household heads. WTP was elicited using a bidding game, and for collecting information on the households' socio-economic status, level of knowledge, priority ranking and perception of risk of contracting the disease, structured questionnaires were used. Ordinary least squares (OLS) multiple regression analysis was used to analyse factors associated with WTP. Results Between 92.1% and 93.3% of respondents were willing to pay amounts ranging from 5 Naira (US$ 0.06) to 100 Naira (US$ 1.25) (median: 20 Naira, US$ 0.25) in the three communities, more than three times the modelled unit direct cost of distributing ivermectin by the communities themselves. Occupation of the respondent, marital status, average monthly expenditure on health care, manifestations of onchocerciasis, the type of savings scheme embarked on by the respondent, age-group, level of education and type of property were statistically significant (P < 0.05) variables affecting WTP. Conclusion This study shows that there is WTP for local ivermectin distribution in the three study communities, and that it should be assessed before instituting community-directed treatment with ivermectin.