Impacts of COVID-19 on global poverty, food security and diets

This study assesses the impact of COVID-19 on poverty, food insecurity and diets, accounting for the complex links between the crisis and the incomes and living costs of vulnerable households. Key elements are impacts on labor supply; effects of social distancing; shifts in demand from services involving close contact; increases in the cost of logistics in food and other supply chains; and reductions in savings and investment. These are examined using IFPRI’s global general equilibrium model linked to epidemiological and household models. The simulations suggest the global recession caused by COVID-19 will be much deeper than that of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The increases in poverty are concentrated in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa with impacts harder in urban areas than in rural. The COVID-19-related lockdown measures explain most of the fall in output, while declines in savings soften the adverse impacts on food consumption. Almost 150 million people are projected to fall into extreme poverty and food insecurity. Decomposition of the results shows that approaches assuming uniform income shocks would underestimate the impact by as much as one third, emphasizing the need for the more refined approach of this study.