CGIAR Researchers Share COVID-19 Work from Across the System


by A4NH | January 11, 2021

One key function of the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub, established in July, is to gather and share work happening across CGIAR. Accordingly, in a December 2020 internal seminar, nine researchers provided insights into their work during a series of rapid-fire presentations. Click on the slide thumbnails below to view them in greater detail.


Karl Pauw shared the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) country modeling team’s research using simulation tools to study the impact of COVID-19 on GDP, jobs, incomes, poverty, and diet quality in 30 countries. Initial work focused on lockdown design, implementation, and enforcement, while the longer-term focus is on policy investment options for building back better. To date, results have shown:

  • Lockdowns led to large declines in national GDP (average losses of 22 percent);
  • Income losses and supply chain disruptions reduced GDP in the agri-food system;
  • While urban households experienced greater income losses, 66 percent of the people pushed into poverty were from rural areas.


Nichola Naylor detailed how epidemiological modeling from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a partner in the COVID Hub, is being linked with IFPRI’s economic modelling. For example, in South Africa, epidemiologists estimated approximately 68 million cases of COVID-19 in an unmitigated scenario. The outputs from this model were then packaged for use by health economists, who estimated that the costs of this would be $10 billion. IFPRI economists and global modelers used these same outputs to look at different scenarios across the economy and in specific sectors. Changing model inputs enabled analysis of the impact on GDP and poverty. Moving forward, they aim to develop a combined linkage model to look at different vaccine and pharmaceutical scenarios for specific country case studies.


Ben Belton shared two WorldFish surveys conducted to date: one of 789 fish supply chain actors in six countries (including Nigeria) and another of 557 fish and poultry supply chain actors across eight geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Since February, monthly phone interviews have tracked prices, quantities produced and traded, access to inputs and buyers, transport, and labor, detailed on an interactive results dashboard on the WorldFish COVID-19 webpage. Semi-structured interviews with market associations are underway, and quarterly surveys are expected to continue and expand to include consumers in 2021. (Ben can also be reached here.)


Sinh Dang shared work by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) that is evaluating animal source food (ASF) accessibility and consumption, as well as changes in food safety practices and behavior of ASF retailers and consumers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Results showed it was harder to source ASF during lockdowns; there was a significant decrease in sales (which are only just recovering now) and sellers experienced reduced incomes. These issues were more serious in rural areas compared to peri-urban and urban areas.


Aminou Arouna detailed interventions by AfricaRice to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa. Value chain surveys already conducted in 2019 provided baseline data that policymakers could use to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. The 2019 results also fed into a new household survey that collected data from 1,000 households in Côte d’Ivoire to assess the impacts of the pandemic. Additional work is supporting farmers and assessing the impact of interventions in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Nigeria.


Alan Nicol shared that the International Water Management Institute has conducted about eight mostly bilaterally funded projects in the last nine months, with work framed around response, recovery, and resilience. They are supporting the Ghanaian government to build equitable resilience through water and wastewater management to tackle the pandemic and help address future shocks. Meanwhile, work on recovery is looking specifically at co-disaster management via rapid response mapping, as well as ongoing challenges such as those around the rural water supply and crowding around water points in Ethiopia, and how this can hamper COVID-19 mitigation activities.


Bart Minten detailed two IFPRI surveys, one with farmers in Ethiopia’s Central Rift Valley and the other with wholesalers and retailers in Addis Ababa. An in-person survey was conducted in February and a phone survey took place in May. Though different effects were found on different crops, with varying impacts on markets, marketing systems were overall shown to be quite resilient over time; marketing margins did not change much, despite increased transport costs.


Dina Najjar shared insights from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dryland Areas gendered impacts and coping strategies for smallholder farmers in the context of integrated crop and livestock systems in Tunisia and Egypt. Both countries experienced disruptions to livestock feed supplies, largely due to price increases in feed and traders’ monopolies. Male farmers responded by purchasing feed outside their communities, while women relied on corn feed. Women also had reduced access to hired labor and herbicides, which led to increased workloads. Surveys also found women had less access to phones. These findings confirm that perceptions and experiences of intrahousehold dynamics and tensions, market disruptions, and coping strategies can differ markedly based on gender. Improving market access while complying with public health guidelines is essential given the losses farmers, and especially female farmers, have incurred due to COVID-19-induced market closures.


Finally, with a look ahead, Delia Randolph shared findings from a recent UNEP/ILRI report looking at preventing the next pandemic. This study identifies seven “deadly drivers” of pandemics:

  • Increased demand for animal protein
  • Unsustainable agricultural intensification
  • Increased exploitation of wildlife
  • Land use change and extractive industry
  • Travel and transportation
  • Rapidly changing food systems
  • Climate change

As pandemics go, she said, COVID-19 has not been particularly lethal; but, unless these drivers are addressed, the next pandemic could be worse. A One Health approach will be critical to preventing that.


The presentations were the first in a series that CGIAR plans to continue quarterly through 2021.

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