Feed the Future Gender, Climate Change, and Nutrition Integration Initiative (GCAN)
"Insights from Seven Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia"
It is widely recognized that periods of crisis affect men and women differently, mediated by their access to resources and information, as well as social and institutional structures that may systematically disadvantage women from being able to access relief, institutional support and rehabilitation. To capture the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, the Feed the Future Gender, Climate and Nutrition Integration Initiative conducted phone surveys in seven countries spread across Asia and Africa.
The study was designed as a longitudinal panel study with five rounds of data collection in Ghana, Nepal, Nigeria and Senegal, and three rounds of data collection in Kenya, Niger and Uganda. Both men and women were administered the same survey, with some modifications made across countries to adapt to local contexts.
This report gives an overview of the findings covering several topics including income loss, coping strategies, labor and time use, food and water insecurity and child education outcomes. The study finds widespread reports of income loss, which declined over time, but increased again as countries experienced a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and fatality. It finds that households first depleted savings when faced with income loss and over time, use of savings reduced while other measures began to be adopted. Women reported greater food and water insecurity compared to men, including worrying about insufficient food and eating less than usual. This is particularly worrying since a large proportion of women also did not have adequately diverse diets. Moderate to severe water insecurity was reported in many of the countries, and as with food insecurity, women were more likely to report issues with accessing water for drinking and other household activities. In some countries, additional modules were added to capture country specific issues of policy relevance, such agriculture extension, mental health, and child marriage.
The results make it clear that proactive investments will be needed, including social safety nets, favorable credit policies, nutrition and water investments, to ensure that the crisis does not further widen the gender gap in resources and achievements in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries. Key findings of the 7 case studies are below.
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on women and men in Kaduna and Cross River states of Nigeria
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have severely affected household income (including remittances) and exacerbated household food and water insecurity
Gender disparities are not as discernible in Nigeria as compared to other countries. However, if conditions persist, women will likely suffer more compared to men given their limited adaptive capacities
Men shared that they used their own savings to deal with the income loss as compared to women, which suggests that women had lower savings/assets and needed to depend on their spouses in times of crisis
Over one third of women did not have minimally adequate diet diversity and over 75% of respondents reported a change in food access due to the pandemic
Around one-third of respondents across all rounds shared that they were worried about water availability, changed plans due to (lack of) availability, and did not have enough drinking water
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on women and men in Northern Ghana
While the lockdown in Ghana due to COVID-19 was not as stringent or long as in other countries (at least up to June 2021), it has severely affected rural household incomes, including remittances
Almost three-quarters of households surveyed reported income loss due to the pandemic in Aug/Sep 2020
Use of savings, borrowing and asset sales were common. Women often relied on men’s savings as a coping strategy; government transfers were insignificant
Addressing COVID-19 in rural areas is hindered by a domestic water supply crisis. Approximately half of respondents reported being worried about water availability, changing their activities due to lack of water, not having enough drinking water and not washing hands when necessary
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on rural women and men in the Niger
Slightly less than half of rural women and men reported income losses from the pandemic in the first three rounds of the survey
Coping strategies reflect a low level of resilience, with many households selling assets and reducing consumption, especially in later survey rounds
More than a third of women respondents noted unemployment during the largest CO VID-19 surge compared to 14-22 percent before and after the increase in cases
Most respondents reported food security challenges, slightly more than half attributed these to the pandemic
Women were more likely to skip meals across all rounds than men and worried more about enough food than men
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on rural women and men in Kenya
More than 65 percent of rural households experienced a change in food access due to the pandemic
Women were more likely to be worried about not having enough food and skipping meals in earlier survey rounds. In the last round, men were more worried
Minimum dietary diversity for women declined slightly by round 4 of the survey to 43 percent
A small share of households reported receiving government transfers, especially during earlier survey rounds. Women were more likely than men to report receiving government transfers in round 1, when 20 percent of women reported receiving this support, compared to 10 percent of men
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on rural women and men in Senegal
Almost all households reported a loss of income due to the pandemic, but experiences varied between rural women and men
Men were more likely to report using savings and selling assets to cope with income loss, whereas women were more likely to report reducing consumption. Both men and women reported high levels of government transfers
As a result of the pandemic, women’s care burden increased while their work for income declined
Women were more likely than men to report being worried about food insecurity, unavailability and access. Nearly half of the women were not consuming a healthy diet
Female-headed households were particularly affected by loss of remittances linked to COVID-19
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on rural women and men in Dang District, Nepal
The lockdown early in the pandemic caused a severe income shock with 88% of surveyed households in Dang district reporting income losses; income losses included losses from largely male migrant family members, with 42% of migrants having returned by November 2020
Early in the pandemic, women’s assets were more likely to be sold; asset sales increased as a coping mechanism as the pandemic dragged on
Only a small number of households received government transfers early in the crisis
More than a third of women respondents noted they could not access healthy foods in the early phase of the pandemic
Income loss was considered the largest impact from the pandemic, followed by travel restrictions, possibly linked to losses from migration incomes and school closures
Women's empowerment and COVID-19: A case study from Kenya
Pre-pandemic empowerment status did not affect the probability of losing income due to COVID-19
Empowered women were less likely to report selling assets and more likely to report borrowing compared to disempowered women
Empowered women noted that it was more likely their spouses’ assets that were being sold to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic
This suggests that women’s empowerment has increased their resilience to the pandemic shock
The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government. All rights reserved.