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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

COVID-19: From health crises to food security anxiety and policy implications

Chiwona-Karltun, Linley; Amuakwa-Mensah, Franklin; Wamala-Larsson, Caroline; Amuakwa-Mensah, Salome; Abu Hatab, Assem; Made, Nolwandle; Taremwa, Nathan Kanuma; Melyoki, Lemayon; Rutashobya, Lettice Kinunda; Madonsela, Thulisile; Lourens, Marna; Stone, Wendy; Bizoza, Alfred R.


Like the rest of the world, African countries are reeling from the health, economic and social effects of COVID-19. The continent's governments have responded by imposing rigorous lockdowns to limit the spread of the virus. The various lockdown measures are undermining food security, because stay at home orders have among others, threatened food production for a continent that relies heavily on agriculture as the bedrock of the economy. This article draws on quantitative data collected by the GeoPoll, and, from these data, assesses the effect of concern about the local spread and economic impact of COVID-19 on food worries. Qualitative data comprising 12 countries south of the Sahara reveal that lockdowns have created anxiety over food security as a health, economic and human rights/well-being issue. By applying a probit model, we find that concern about the local spread of COVID-19 and economic impact of the virus increases the probability of food worries. Governments have responded with various efforts to support the neediest. By evaluating the various policies rolled out we advocate for a feminist economics approach that necessitates greater use of data analytics to predict the likely impacts of intended regulatory relief responses during the recovery process and post-COVID-19.


COVID-19; Feminist economics; Food security; Policy; Social protection; Sub-Saharan Africa

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2021, volume: 50, number: 4, pages: 794-811

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Amuakwa-Mensah, Franklin
University of Gothenburg
Wamala-Larsson, Caroline
Stockholm University
Amuakwa-Mensah, Salome
Lulea University of Technology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics
Arish University
Made, Nolwandle
No organisation
Taremwa, Nathan Kanuma
University of Rwanda
Melyoki, Lemayon
University of Dar es Salaam
Rutashobya, Lettice Kinunda
University of Dar es Salaam
Madonsela, Thulisile
Stellenbosch University
Lourens, Marna
Stellenbosch University
Stone, Wendy
Stellenbosch University
Bizoza, Alfred R.
University of Rwanda

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 Good health and wellbeing
SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Agricultural Sciences not elsewhere specified
Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)