In response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, governments across the globe implemented local shutdowns that led to rising unemployment and disrupted local and international transportation routes and supply chains. While such efforts managed to slow or stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they resulted in increased food insecurity, whether due to reduced incomes or increased food prices.
A new study led by CMCC @ Ca’Foscari, the strategic partnership between the CMCC Foundation and the Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice and the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment, track food insecurity and its determinants in lower-income countries during the COVID-19 pandemic using multi-wave household data. In this new study recently published in Scientific reports, Shouro Dasgupta, researcher at the CMCC Foundation and RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment, associate professor at Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice, and Elizabeth JZ Robinson, director of the Grantham Research Institute, LSE, studied the effects of socioeconomic driving forces such as f. ex. as gender and education of the household leader; household income and poverty status during the pandemic; safety nets in the form of cash and food aid; coping strategies adopted by households; and price effects of important foods on food insecurity during the pandemic.
The study focuses in particular on political intervention undertaken by governments to try to reduce the impact of the pandemic on food insecurity, including the use of food and cash safety nets. There are different types of safety nets, including money transfer programs and food-based programs, which can include food delivery in different ways, food stampsfood stamps and food for work programs where workers are generally paid in food grains instead of cash.
A key ongoing debate is to what extent cash or food aid is most effective in reducing food insecurity. Of course, public nutrition programs and food safety networks are more broadly designed to directly reduce food insecurity.
From a utility-maximizing perspective, remittances tend to be considered more economically efficient because, in the margin, they do not distort consumption and production choices. There are also non-economic reasons to prefer cash over food transfers, such as being less “paternalistic”. “Our results suggest that safety nets in the form of cash benefits appear to have been more effective than food in reducing food insecurity during the pandemic,” comments Shouro Dasgupta. “Additionally, households with female and / or relatively less educated leaders, and those who are poorer or experience a pandemic-induced loss of income, have a greater chance of suffering food insecurity.”
The paper demonstrates the importance of understanding local contexts in terms of socio-economic inequalities in order to enable the design and implementation of more effective safety net policies. “Because parents’ educational backgrounds affect their children’s education, earnings, and wage performance,” adds Elizabeth Robinson, “our findings further suggest that public investment and education improvement policies are likely to reduce intergenerational inequalities in food insecurity during future crises, including possible future pandemics. ” Moreover, the results show that those households that had to borrow rather than rely on their savings were more likely to suffer from food insecurity. Furthermore, heterogeneities in results across countries reveal the need for evidence-based policies tailored to local contexts.
“These important debates on how to best reduce food insecurity tend to flare up during crises, such as pandemics, but are increasingly relevant more broadly given the persistent food insecurity across low- and middle-income countries and growing evidence that climate change is leading to an increase in the number of malnourished people across the globe, “concludes Dasgupta and Robinson. climate changein particular with regard to the probable increases in the frequency and severity of shocks, in addition to the slow combustion effect of rising temperatures on crop yields. ”
Shouro Dasgupta et al, Impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity using multiple waves of high-frequency household surveys, Scientific reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-022-05664-3
Provided by CMCC Foundation – Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change
Citation: Managing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic (2022, March 18) retrieved March 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-food-insecurity-covid-pandemic.html
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