A Multi-Phase Assessment of the Effects of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Zambia

Written by: Chrispin Matenga and Munguzwe Hichaambwa

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. The speed with which the pandemic spread geographically, and the high rate of mortality of its victims prompted many countries around the world to institute ‘lockdowns’ of various sorts to contain it. While the global concern in the early months following the emergence of COVID-19 was with health impacts, the ‘lockdown’ measures put in place by governments triggered global socioeconomic shocks as economies entered recessions due to disruption of economic activity that the ‘lockdown’ measures entailed. Data suggests that the socioeconomic shocks arising from ‘lockdowns’ have been more severe in sub-Saharan Africa countries, generating dire livelihood consequences for most citizens who depend on the informal economy for survival. In Zambia, the effects of COVID-19 combined with a severe drought, and a decline in mining activity to contribute to a downward spiral in Zambia’s economy. This report aims to gain real-time insights into how the COVID-19 crisis was unfolding in Zambia and how rural people and food and livelihood systems were responding. The study focused on documenting and understanding the differential impacts of the pandemic at the household level in terms of changes in participation in farming activities, availability of services for agricultural production, labour and employment, marketing and transport services, food and nutrition security and poverty and wellbeing.

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