COVID-19 and food systems: assessing the responses in Sub-Saharan Africa

October 13, 2020

We are pleased to announce the approval of five new research initiatives aimed at assessing COVID-19’s impact on food systems and informing responses to alleviate the impacts of future shocks such as COVID-19 on nutrition and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.


"Mama" Zaina Said, 61, head of the local dairy goat organization, holds a sweet potato vine.
Brian Sokol

On June 25, 2020, the Agriculture and Food Security program at IDRC launched its second closed competitive call  aimed at financing research activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this call is to produce results that can inform the development or implementation of more efficient and equitable policy and actions to minimize or alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on nutrition and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa and, in particular, in West Africa and the Sahel. Initiated as part of IDRC’s Rapid Research Response Initiative, the objectives of this CA$4M project are to:

  • document how responses to economic and health shocks associated with COVID-19 have been protecting and/or undermining food systems; and
  • assess availability and access to food, and how it has impacted gender relations and equity for the most vulnerable.

Of the 18 organizations targeted by IDRC for funding, five were selected for their capacity to document interventions in real time and share lessons widely for effective responses from government and donor agencies to future shocks such as COVID-19.

These newly funded research initiatives will, over the course of the next 12 months, focus on:

  1. assessing the response to the COVID-19 pandemic through social protection and the strengthening of local food systems - the case of the Niayes in Senegal, an initiative led by Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR);
  2. assessing the impacts of COVID-19 responses on food systems and livelihoods by governments in the Sahel - an initiative led by the Conseil ouest et centre africain pour la recherche et le développement agricoles (CORAF);
  3. supporting the definition and implementation of relevant and sustainable measures in response to the effects of COVID-19 in the livestock sector in West and Central Africa  - an initiative led by the Association pour la Promotion de l'Élevage au Sahel et en Savane (APESS);
  4. assessing the impacts of COVID-19 responses on the political economy of African food systems - an initiative led by the University of Western Cape (PLAAS); and
  5. assessing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the pillars of food security and opportunities for reconfiguring unequal gender relations in Burkina Faso and Senegal - an initiative led by the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI).

More information on each of these initiatives will be available soon.