Survey suggests rising risk of food and nutrition insecurity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as COVID-19 restrictions continue

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Countries have taken varied actions to limit the spread of COVID-19; Ethiopia has imposed less severe controls on movement and other activities than many other countries. Nevertheless, these are having a significant economic impact, with the urban poor likely to be hit hardest. To investigate this issue, Kalle Hirvonen, Gashaw Taddesse Abate, and Alan de Brauw conducted a phone survey of households in Addis Ababa on changes to their income, food expenditures and consumption under COVID-19 control measures. From the initial results, outlined here, they propose follow-up surveillance and actions to address the threat of rising food insecurity for urban households.—John McDermott, series co-editor and Director, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to virtually every corner of the world, lockdowns, supply disruptions, and economic pain have followed in its wake, raising alarm about food and nutrition security among policy makers, the development community, and other observers. Representative survey data on households’ immediate and longer-term responses to the pandemic is necessary to understand these impacts and their implications, and to plan and target appropriate responses. The need is especially urgent for urban areas, where residents may face greater public health risks and tighter restrictions.

To cast light on how households in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are reacting to the crisis, IFPRI’s Ethiopia Strategy Support Program (ESSP), with the support of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), has begun a series of monthly phone surveys. Initial data demonstrate that poorer households are taking a greater economic hit than those with higher incomes, and that dietary diversity has declined. The results suggest the food security situation in Addis Ababa could sharply deteriorate in the coming weeks if disease transmission and social distancing measures continue.

Photo credit: Nahom Tesfaye/UNICEF

This blog post is part of a special series of analyses on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on national and global food and nutrition security, poverty, and development. The blog series is edited by IFPRI director general Johan Swinnen and A4NH director John McDermott. See the full series here.

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