COVID-19 highlights need to boost resilience of Africa’s rural poor

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Apart from the novel coronavirus’ tragic toll in terms of human health and lives lost, government-imposed rules and restrictions on movement and assembly have upended work and livelihood activities for billions of people, causing serious strain on budgets and household resources, seriously impacting people’s ability to care for and nourish themselves and their families.

These negative effects can be immediate and often catastrophic for people who have few resources to fall back on in hard times — such as Africa’s estimated 33 million smallholder farming families.

Most of them live on what they can grow themselves for food and also sell to earn income to pay for medical care, school fees, and other expenses. Even brief shortfalls in harvest volumes, seed and input supplies, or market sales can quickly lead to less food, or at least, less nutritious food, on these families’ plates, leading to malnutrition — or worse.

This reality was reflected recently in Malawi, a country in southern Africa where the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Development Initiative, HarvestPlus, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, are working together to strengthen the resilience of smallholder farming communities.


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