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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods in Africa

This project will undertake research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of vulnerable populations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia. The goal is to inform evidence-based decision-making in the policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in these countries.

The project will evaluate the impact of the pandemic on key macroeconomic indicators and on issues such as food security, malnutrition, and hunger. It will also examine gender-specific socio-economic impacts. The project aims to build the capacity of researchers and institutions for longer-term, sustainable policy changes that address root causes of the pandemic’s unequal impact, including gender inequality. It also aims to build a network of stakeholders (individuals and policy, research, and practice institutions) that can continue to track the pandemic’s impacts and design and advocate for practical solutions in the post-COVID era.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Paul Okwi
Total Funding
CA$ 1,224,600.00
South Africa
Sustainable Inclusive Economies
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Njuguna Ndung'u
African Economic Research Consortium/Consortium pour la recherche économique en Afrique


Leaving no women behind : evaluating the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on livelihood outcomes in Kenya and Ethiopia

Leaving no women behind : evaluating the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on livelihood outcomes in Kenya and Ethiopia


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has revolutionised our lives, bringing with it the twin crises of illness and the need for an optimal mix of policies to alleviate its impact on the population. There needs to be more evidence on the effects of the pandemic on livelihood outcomes, including an understanding of whether female-headed families in low-income countries fare worse than their male-headed counterparts during pandemics. Using high-frequency phone surveys conducted in Ethiopia and Kenya, we examine the aggregate impact of the pandemic on income and consumption losses, as well as food insecurity. The empirical analysis estimates linear probability models that relate livelihood outcomes with household headship and other socioeconomic characteristics as controls. Overall, the pandemic increased the likelihood of food insecurity while decreasing income and consumption, particularly among female-headed households. In Kenya, living in a female-headed home increased the possibility of an adult going without food by about 10%, an adult skipping a meal by about 9.9%, and a child missing a meal by about 17% in the seven days preceding the telephone survey. In Ethiopia, living in a female-headed household increased the likelihood of an adult going hungry, skipping a meal, and running out of food by about 24.35%, 18.9%, and 26.7%, respectively. Salient pre-existing socioeconomic inequalities further exacerbated the effects of the pandemic on livelihoods. The findings have important implications for public policy and preparations by governments and other organisations interested in developing suitable gender-sensitive measures to lessen the impact of future pandemics in low- and middle-income countries.

Author(s): Makate, Marshall, Makate, Clifton

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Language: English