A Multi-Phase Assessment of the Effects of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report 3

Written by: Amrita Saha, Marco Carreras and John Thompson

Since it began in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to considerable concerns about the viability of local food systems and rural livelihoods across sub-Saharan Africa. This paper presents the results of a three-round assessment of the effects of COVID-19 on the farming, labour and marketing practices, food and nutrition security, and well-being of over 800 male- and female-headed rural households in eight countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In this paper, we argue that when we closely examine the lived experiences of people in different country contexts, results suggest that the immediate restrictions and strict control measures imposed by governments at the start of the pandemic on social and commercial activities acted as a major shock to the well-being of many rural households and communities. Furthermore, while some households and communities were able to find ways to cope or adapt to the COVID-19-related disruptions, for others the pandemic coincided with a number of other shocks and stresses (extreme weather events, locust infestations, conflict and insecurity, or a combination of these), exacerbating some of the observed risks.

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