At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, projections indicated the number of people experiencing food insecurity would increase.
In a recent USDA Economic Research Service study, researchers used World Bank household survey data collected during the pandemic to assess food insecurity in four sub-Saharan Africa countries. Researchers tracked three levels of food insecurity intensity—mild, moderate, and severe—based on household responses to the Food Insecurity Experience Scale. They observed a sharp increase in reported food insecurity in the early months of the pandemic.
In Ethiopia and Nigeria, the rate of moderate food insecurity reported increased from about zero to between 30 and 70 percent by June 2020. In Burkina Faso (boo-keen-uh fah-so) and Malawi (Muh-louhg-ee), where data was available beyond 2020, researchers observed gradual declines in food insecurity. At the end of June 2021, about 15 percent of households in Burkina Faso still reported moderate food insecurity, as did about 50 percent of Malawi households.