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Documenting COVID-19’s impact on food systems in sub-Saharan Africa

August 20, 2020
IDRC is funding 10 new research initiatives that will support current IDRC grantees in documenting the impacts of COVID-19 on nutrition and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
A woman in a village in Kenya shows the beans she has harvested in a plastic basin.
Thomas Omondi/IDRC
Telesia Kioko harvests beans in the village of Munyuni, Kenya.

In June, IDRC launched its first of two closed competitive calls aimed at financing research activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiated as part of the Centre’s broader Rapid Research Response Initiative, the objective of this CA$1 million initiative is to:

  • collect short-term data on the impact of the pandemic (and control measures) on local food systems, specifically on the most vulnerable populations;
  • document planned and spontaneous responses in real-time and the rewiring of food systems as they happen; and
  • inform recovery policies for more efficient and equitable policy and action that minimizes or alleviates the impacts of COVID-19 on nutrition and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the 16 organizations targeted by IDRC for funding, 10 were selected for their capacity and leadership to generate locally relevant evidence. Building on projects already funded by IDRC, over the course of the next six months the newly funded research initiatives will focus on:

  1. Assessing the effect of coronavirus response measures on food and nutrition security in semi-arid Kenya (an initiative led by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization);
  2. Assessing the resilience of the fish value chain to the COVID-19 pandemic in Malawi (an initiative led by the University of Malawi);
  3. Understanding the cascading impacts of COVID-19 and how it is re-shaping staple food value chains in Zimbabwe (an initiative led by the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project);
  4. Documenting the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and trade between Tanzania and the East African Community partner states (an initiative led by the Economic and Social Research Foundation);
  5. Assessing gender-sensitive policy implications of COVID-19 on youth agri-preneurship resilience in the poultry, horticulture, and fish agribusiness value chains (an initiative led by the United States International University Africa);
  6. Food security in urban Johannesburg during the COVID-19 lockdown: food parcels, social grants, and local food economies (an initiative led by PRICELESS South Africa);
  7. Analyzing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food production and supply systems in Kenya and Uganda (an initiative led by the National Agricultural Research Organization);
  8. Documenting the impact of COVID-19 on local food production and informal food markets in Nigeria with the Niger Delta region as a case study (an initiative led by the Centre for Population and Environment Development);
  9. Documenting the food systems of households in seven areas of West Africa in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the distancing measures put in place by the authorities (an initiative led by SOCODEVI); and
  10. Generating evidence on the effects of COVID-19 and drawing lessons on the resilience of the informal food economy in the greater Dakar metropolitan area (an initiative led by the Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale).

More information on each of these initiatives will be available soon.