COVID-19 challenges to sustainable food production and consumption: Future lessons for food systems in eastern and southern Africa from a gender lens

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Despite fears that sub-Sahara Africa would be severely impacted by COVID-19, the implications of the
pandemic on sustainable production and consumption have not been studied in detail.

Notwithstanding, implications vary depending on country, region, and strictness of coronavirus containment measures.

Thus, the impact of COVID-19 on food and nutritional security was expected to be dire in sub-Saharan
Africa because of its enormous reliance on global food systems. This article explored the implications of COVID-19 on sustainable production and consumption by focusing on common beans, vegetables, fish, and fruits produced and consumed in rural, peri-urban and urban areas. Two surveys were conducted to collect quantitative data from 619 producers in rural areas and 307 consumers from peri-urban and urban areas of ten Eastern and Southern African countries. Descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages) and chi-square test for independence were used to analyse the data. The results show that the pandemic disrupted bean production and consumption across the two sub-regions. However, Southern African farmers and consumers were disproportionately more affected. While farmers in Eastern Africa reported input market challenges, those in Southern Africa identified challenges related to marketing farm produce.

We also report that home gardening in urban and peri-urban areas enhanced urban food systems’ resilience to the impacts of the pandemic on food security. The study argues that short food supply chains can sustain rural and urban livelihood against adverse effects of the pandemics and contribute towards sustainable production and consumption. Therefore, local input and food distribution models and inclusive institutional and legal support for urban agriculture are crucial drivers for reducing food and nutritional insecurity, poverty, and gender inequality. They are also critical to supporting sustainable production and consumption.

Nchanji, Eileen; Lutomia, Cosmas.

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