Publications

PUBLICATIONS

by IFPRI | June 14, 2019

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Trajectories of child growth, child development, and home child-rearing quality during the Covid pandemic in rural Nepal
Miller, Laurie C.; Neupane, Sumanta; Joshi, Neena; Lohani, Mahendra; Shrestha, Bhola. article in press

Abstract | View

Background
Children, especially disadvantaged children in poor countries, were expected to be among the “biggest victims” of the Covid pandemic. Economic burdens, decreased nutritious foods, reduced medical care, school closures, and ill-health or death of family members were predicted to increase child undernutrition and developmental delays, and diminish home child-rearing quality.

Methods
A planned nutrition intervention could not be implemented due to Covid restrictions. However, three surveys (pre-Covid [December 2019], July 2021, and September 2021) in 280 Nepali households (309 parent-dyads, 368 children, 6-66 months old) collected demographics, child anthropometry and development (Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3 [ASQ-3]), and home child-rearing quality (caregiver engagement, learning resources, adult supervision [UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey]). Mixed-effect regression models adjusted for household (wealth, maternal education) and child factors (age, gender) and survey round.

Results
Height, mid-upper-arm and head circumference measurements improved over time. Total ASQ-3 score did not change: communication scores increased while fine motor and personal-social scores declined. Girls’ growth and development worsened more than boys. Caregiver engagement (especially mothers’) generally declined, but learning resource availability increased. More children were left unsupervised at Round 2 than Round 1 or 3.

Conclusions
In this sample, some aspects of child growth, development, and home child-rearing quality improved while others declined. Better understanding of these changes in child well-being and the family environment during the pandemic could provide insight on how to protect children during future crises.

Bioaccessibility and bioavailability of biofortified food and food products: Current evidence
Huey, Samantha L.; Mehta, Neel H.; Konieczynski, Elsa M.; Bhargava, Arini; Friesen, Valerie M.; Boy, Erick. article in press

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Biofortification increases micronutrient content in staple crops through conventional breeding, agronomic methods, or genetic engineering. Bioaccessibility is a prerequisite for a nutrient to fulfill a biological function, e.g., to be bioavailable. The objective of this systematic review is to examine the bioavailability (and bioaccessibility as a proxy via in vitro and animal models) of the target micronutrients enriched in conventionally biofortified crops that have undergone post-harvest storage and/or processing, which has not been systematically reviewed previously, to our knowledge. We searched for articles indexed in MEDLINE, Agricola, AgEcon, and Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International databases, organizational websites, and hand-searched studies’ reference lists to identify 18 studies reporting on bioaccessibility and 58 studies on bioavailability. Conventionally bred biofortified crops overall had higher bioaccessibility and bioavailability than their conventional counterparts, which generally provide more absorbed micronutrient on a fixed ration basis. However, these estimates depended on exact cultivar, processing method, context (crop measured alone or as part of a composite meal), and experimental method used. Measuring bioaccessibility and bioavailability of target micronutrients in biofortified and conventional foods is critical to optimize nutrient availability and absorption, ultimately to improve programs targeting micronutrient deficiency.
Food for thought? Experimental evidence on the learning impacts of a large-scale school feeding program
Aurino, Elisabetta; Gelli, Aulo; Adamba, Clement; Osei-Akoto, Isaac; Alderman, Harold. Madison, WI Article in press

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There is limited experimental evidence on the effects of large-scale, government-led interventions on human capital in resource-constrained settings. We report results from a randomized trial of the government of Ghana’s school feeding. After two years, the program led to moderate average increases in math and literacy standardized scores among pupils in treatment communities, and to larger achievement gains for girls and disadvantaged children and regions. Improvements in child schooling, cognition, and nutrition constituted suggestive impact mechanisms, especially for educationally-disadvantaged groups. The program combined equitable human capital accumulation with social protection, contributing to the “learning for all” sustainable development agenda.
Upside risk, consumption value, and market returns to food safety
Hoffmann, Vivian; Kariuki, Sarah; Pieters, Janneke; Treurniet, Mark. Article in press

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We investigate the effect of a modest food safety premium on semisubsistence farmers' investment in a food safety technology. We demonstrate theoretically that in the face of production uncertainty, a market incentive below the marginal production cost of achieving the safety standard can increase food safety investment among farmers motivated by private health returns. We test this prediction through a randomized controlled trial in Kenya through which members of existing farmer groups were offered an opportunity to purchase a food safety input, and half were offered a 5% market premium for produce that met the associated regulatory standard. Access to the premium more than doubled investment in the food safety technology. In line with the model's prediction, most premium-induced adoption was by farmers motivated by a combination of health and financial rewards.
The economic costs of a multisectoral nutrition programme implemented through a credit platform in Bangladesh
Thai, Giang; Margolies, Amy; Gelli, Aulo; Kumar, Neha; Sultana, Nasrin; Choo, Esther; Levin, Carol. Article in press

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Bangladesh struggles with undernutrition in women and young children. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture programmes can help address rural undernutrition. However, questions remain on the costs of multisectoral programmes. This study estimates the economic costs of the Targeting and Re-aligning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (TRAIN) programme, which integrated nutrition behaviour change and agricultural extension with a credit platform to support women's income generation. We used the Strengthening Economic Evaluation for Multisectoral Strategies for Nutrition (SEEMS-Nutrition) approach. The approach aligns costs with a multisectoral nutrition typology, identifying inputs and costs along programme impact pathways. We measure and allocate costs for activities and inputs, combining expenditures and micro-costing. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected retrospectively from implementers and beneficiaries. Expenditure data and economic costs were combined to calculate incremental economic costs. The intervention was designed around a randomised control trial. Incremental costs are presented by treatment arm. The total incremental cost was $795,040.34 for a 3.5-year period. The annual incremental costs per household were US$65.37 (Arm 2), USD$114.15 (Arm 3) and $157.11 (Arm 4). Total costs were led by nutrition counselling (37%), agriculture extension (12%), supervision (12%), training (12%), monitoring and evaluation (9%) and community events (5%). Total input costs were led by personnel (68%), travel (12%) and supplies (7%). This study presents the total incremental costs of an agriculture-nutrition intervention implemented through a microcredit platform. Costs per household compare favourably with similar interventions. Our results illustrate the value of a standardised costing approach for comparison with other multisectoral nutrition interventions.
Understanding maternal food choice for preschool children across urban–rural settings in Vietnam
Duong, Cam; Jenkins, Mica; Pyo, Euisun; Nguyen, Phuong Hong; Huynh, Tuyen; Nguyen-Viet, Hung; Young, Melissa F.; Ramakrishnan, Usha. Article in press

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Improving diet quality of preschool children is challenging in countries undergoing food environment and nutrition transition. However, few studies have sought to understand how mothers in these countries decide what and how to feed their children. This study aims to explore maternal experiences, perspectives and beliefs when making food choice decisions for preschool children in urban, peri-urban and rural areas in northern Vietnam. Two focus group discussions and 24 in-depth interviews were carried out and analysed using thematic analysis. The results showed that mothers across the urban–rural spectrum shared the intention to feed children safe, nutritious food for better health and weight gain while satisfying child food preferences to improve appetite and eating enjoyment. These food choice intentions were embedded within family food traditions, whereby mothers emphasised nutritious food and adopted strict feeding styles during lunch and dinner but were flexible and accommodating of child preferences during breakfast and side meals. These intentions were also embedded within the physical food environment, which provided a mix of healthy and unhealthy food through informal food retailers. Despite these intentions, mothers faced financial constraints and difficulties in managing children's refusal to chew, changes in eating mood and strong eating temperament. These findings support policies to limit the presence of unhealthy food in informal food retail and encourage meal-specific feeding strategies to help children enjoy nutritious food, transition from soft to textured food and become more cooperative during mealtime.
Multiple modifiable maternal, household and health service factors are associated with maternal nutrition and early breastfeeding practices in Burkina Faso
Kim, Sunny S.; Ouédraogo, Césaire T; Zagré, Rock; Ganaba, Rasmané; Zafimanjaka, Maurice G.; Tharaney, Manisha; Menon, Purnima. Article in press

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Low coverage of effective nutrition interventions in many high-burden countries, due to service provision and demand factors, result in poor uptake of recommended practices and nutrition outcomes. We examined the factors that influence maternal nutrition and early breastfeeding practices and determined the extent that the key factors could improve these practices in two regions in Burkina Faso. We used household survey data among pregnant (n = 920) and recently delivered women (n = 1840). Multivariable regression analyses were conducted to identify the determinants of a diverse diet and iron-folic acid (IFA) supplement consumption, weight monitoring during pregnancy and early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF). Population attributable risk analysis was used to estimate how much the outcomes can be improved under optimal conditions of interventions that address the modifiable determinants. During pregnancy, 21% of women achieved minimum diet diversity (MDD-W), 70% consumed 90+ IFA tablets and 65% were weighed 4+ times; EIBF was 40%. Nutrition knowledge was associated with MDD-W (odds ratio [OR]: 3.2), 90+ IFA (OR: 1.5) and EIBF (OR: 1.9). Positive social norms and family support were associated with 90+ IFA (OR: 1.5). Early and 4+ ANC visits were associated with 90+ IFA (OR: 1.5 and 10) and 4+ weight monitoring (OR: 6.2). Nutrition counselling was associated with 90+ IFA (OR: 2.5) and EIBF (OR: 1.5). Under optimal programme conditions, 41% of women would achieve MDD-W, 93% would consume 90+ IFA, 93% would be weighed 4+ times and 57% would practice EIBF. Strengthening the delivery and uptake of interventions targeted at these modifiable factors has the potential to improve maternal nutrition practices.

Evaluation of the pasting characteristics of cassava roots grown in different locations in Nigeria from the Genetic Gain Assessment trial

Alamu, Emmanuel Oladeji; Maziya-Dixon, Busie; Dixon, Alfred Gilbert. Article in press

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The cooking quality, especially the pasting properties, is essential in cassava starch applications or successfully utilizing cassava in food industries and at the household level. This study evaluated the cassava roots from the Genetic Gain Assessment trial grown in three locations for dry matter (DM) and the pasting characteristics. Four hundred cassava genotypes were planted under IVS (Dry season in Inland Valley Hydromorphic area) and Upland (rain-fed conditions) trials at IITA Research Farms, Nigeria. The harvested cassava roots (12 months after planting) were analyzed for DM, and the dried-milled roots were analyzed for pasting properties using standard laboratory methods. The DM ranged from 25.04 to 38.72%, with a mean of 31.97 ± 2.41%. The pasting properties (peak, trough, breakdown, setback and final viscosities) ranged from 140.36–570.93 RVU (mean 241.71 ± 38.17), 6.74–173.32 RVU (mean 96.65 ± 23.45), 66.97–482.35 RVU (mean 142.44 ± 30.16), 60.06–231.74RVU (mean 134.42 ± 30.52), and 5.22–135.69 RVU (mean 37.78 ± 12.96), respectively. The genotypes had no significant effect (P > 0.05) on the DM and pasting properties, but the growing location showed a highly significant effect (P < 0.05) on all the parameters studied. The cluster analysis grouped the genotypes into 2 clusters where clusters 1 and 2 had 115 and 285 genotypes, respectively. Knowing the impact of genotype and grown location on the pasting behavior could help the breeders select the best genotypes with excellent qualities that could adapt to different environments and identify the suitable growing area for the best cooking quality.
Characterization of macro and micro-minerals in cassava leaves from genotypes planted in three different agroecological locations in Nigeria
Alamu, Emmanuel Oladeji; Dixon, Alfred; Eyinla, Tolu Emma; Maziya-Dixon, Busie. Article in pres

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Diversity in the mineral composition of cassava leaves bred in sub-Saharan Africa has not been fully investigated. This study characterized macro and micro-minerals in 400 genotypes of Cassava leaves planted in three different agroecological environments in Nigeria. Laboratory analysis of the leaves was done using an Inductively Coupled Optical Emission Spectrometer. Across all three locations sampled in this study, the iron content ranged from 43 to 660 mg/kg, zinc from 16 to 440 mg/kg, Manganese 16–61mg/kg, Copper 0.7–14 mg/kg, Aluminum 5.3–630 mg/kg. Among the macro elements, Calcium ranged from 3600 to 17600 mg/kg, Magnesium 1760‒6500 mg/kg, Sodium 0.4‒720 mg/kg, Potassium 3100‒27000 mg/kg. When the location effect was tested, there was a significant difference among the genotypes for all elements. Cluster analysis resulted in five clusters containing 187, 147, 60, 2, and 4 genotypes, respectively. Cluster 2 contained eight varieties (01/0046, 94/0020, 93/0098, 88/112-7(3X), I00/0017, 91/00417, I00/0017, 88/112-7(3X)) that possessed the highest mineral compositions in Fe, Al, Ti, Na, K, S, Mn, and B, respectively. Genotypes 93/0681(4X), 92/0430, and 95/0460 in cluster 3 had the highest concentrations of Mg, Na, and Zn, respectively. The correlation results showed a notable positive relationship among iron with zinc, copper, aluminum, and titanium (r = 0.33, 0.39, 0.48, and 0.56, respectively), zinc with nickel, titanium, and sulphur (r = 0.52, 0.3,2 and 0.51, respectively) while calcium negatively correlated with potassium (r = ‒ 0.31), phosphorus (r = ‒0.41). This study provides evidence that genotypic diversity exists for mineral composition in cassava leaves and, therefore, can be exploited for genetic improvement by breeders seeking solutions to reduce persistent mineral deficiencies in sub-Saharan Africa.
Stories of change in nutrition: Lessons from a new generation of studies from Africa, Asia and Europe
Headey, Derek D.; Gillespie, Stuart; Avula, Rasmi; Becquey, Elodie; Nisbett, Nicholas; Harris, Jody. Article in Press

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How does nutrition improve? We need to understand better what drives both positive and negative change in different contexts, and what more can be done to reduce malnutrition. Since 2015, the Stories of Change in Nutrition studies have analysed and documented experiences in many different African and Asian countries, to foster empirically-grounded experiential learning across contexts. This article provides an overview of findings from 14 studies undertaken in nine countries in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe between 2017 and 2021. The studies used a combination of methods, including regression-decomposition analyses of national datasets to assess determinants of nutritional change; policy process and food environment analyses; and community-level research assessing attitudes to change. This article takes a narrative synthesis approach to identify key themes across the studies, paying particular attention to multisectoral determinants, changes in the food environment, the role of structural factors (including longstanding social inequities), and changes in political commitment, cross-sectoral coherence and capacity. Given the inherent multisectoral nature of nutrition, many countries are experimenting with different models of ensuring coherence across sectors that are captured in this body of work. The relative immaturity of the policy sector in dealing with issues such as obesity and overweight, and associated influences in the wider food environment, adds a further challenge. To address these interrelated issues, policy must simultaneously tackle nutrition’s upstream (social/economic/equity) and downstream (health and dietary) determinants. Studies synthesised here provide empirically-driven inspiration for action.
Changes in women’s empowerment in the household, women’s diet diversity, and their relationship against the background of COVID-19 in southern Bangladesh
Lecoutere, Els; van den Berg, Marrit; de Brauw, Alan. 2023

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The COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, associated public health measures, and people’s reactions were projected to have caused job losses among women, a decline in women’s empowerment and reduced women’s diet diversity. Using a November 2020 telephone survey to re-interview adult female respondents of a November 2019 in-person survey, contrary to expectations we find that more women found than lost jobs, and women’s diet diversity increased over the year partly marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We did not find evidence of a decline in women’s involvement in food purchase decisions, nor women’s autonomy over use of household income. The change in women’s outside employment is neither statistically related to changes in women’s involvement in food purchase decisions, changes women’s autonomy over use of household income, nor changes in women’s diet diversity. Change in women’s involvement in food purchase decisions is positively related with change in women’s diet diversity and change in women’s autonomy over income use is negatively related with change in women’s diet diversity.
Using outcome trajectory evaluation to assess HarvestPlus’ contribution to the development of national biofortification breeding programs
Douthwaite, Boru; Johnson, Nancy L.; Wyatt, Amanda. Washington, DC 2022

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While the key role that policy plays in sustainable development has long been recognized, rigorously documenting the influence of research on policy outcomes faces conceptual, empirical and even political challenges. Addressing these challenges is increasingly urgent since improving policies—broadly defined—is at the heart of the structural transformation agenda. This paper describes the use of a new evaluation method—outcomes trajectory evaluation (OTE), based on both evaluation and policy process theory—to explore the influence of HarvestPlus, a large and complex research for development program focused on improving nutrition, on a specific policy outcome, namely the establishment of crop biofortification breeding programs in national agricultural research institutes in Bangladesh, India and Rwanda. The findings support claims of significant HarvestPlus contributions to the establishment of the programs while also raising issues that need to be monitored moving forward to ensure sustainability. The paper also discusses the pros and cons of the OTE approach in terms of both methodological rigor and program learning. In particular, the fact that HarvestPlus is a long-running program allows us to reflect on how a “backward looking” approach such as OTE builds on and complements the more “forward looking,” theory of change-based approaches that informed HarvestPlus programming and evaluation during its earlier, highly-successful phases. Such a long-run perspective is rare in development evaluation and it offers important lessons for how to think about and plan for evaluation over the course of a complex agriculture research for development program.
Livelihoods, poverty, and food insecurity in Myanmar: Survey evidence from June 2020 to December 2021
Myanmar Agriculture Policy Support Activity (MAPSA). Washington, DC 2022

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Ten rounds of the Rural-Urban Food Security Survey (RUFSS) have been conducted between June 2020 and December 2021 to assess the impacts of Myanmar’s economic, political, and health crises on various dimensions of household welfare. RUFSS interviews about 2000 mothers of young children per round from urban Yangon, the rural Dry Zone, and recent migrants from these areas.
A major food transfer program in Bangladesh fell short during the COVID-19 pandemic
Bin Khaled, Muhammad Nahian; Raghunathan, Kalyani; Rashid, Shahidur; Dearlove, Honor; Chowdhury, Shyamal. Washington, DC 2022

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Public food transfer programs serve as an important safety net for those facing hunger and food insecurity in both low- and high-income countries around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs have become even more crucial, as food insecurity and poverty rates have soared. But lockdowns and other public health restrictions can also disrupt food distribution operations and thus limit their effectiveness.
Smarter policies for enhanced food security and food system outcomes
McDermott, John; Allison-Reumann, Laura. Washington, DC 2022

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The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized a multitude of development challenges and opportunities, some of which are new and some ongoing. The disruptions caused by the pandemic have highlighted the interconnections among almost all aspects of society, including the important linkages between food systems and other sectors that are sometimes separately governed and managed. Achieving the desired food system outcomes of health, sustainability, inclusion, resilience, and efficiency (IFPRI 2021) will require alignment and coordination with other sectors such as health, industry, and social development.
Resilience of urban value chains during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from dairy and vegetable chains in Ethiopia
Hirvonen, Kalle; Mohammed, Belay; Habte, Yetimwork; Tamru, Seneshaw; Abate, Gashaw Tadesse; Minten, Bart. Washington, DC 2022

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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many researchers and international organizations voiced concerns about the resilience of food value chains amid lockdowns and border closures, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (Laborde et al. 2020; Reardon, Bellemare, and Zilberman 2020; Resnick 2020). This chapter explores the pandemic’s effects on dairy and vegetable value chains in Ethiopia’s capital through mid-2021. Despite early fears about the pandemic’s impacts, survey data show that these urban value chains quickly rebounded after an initial period of fragility, demonstrating resilience over the research period. Amid tremendous uncertainty and market volatility, most value chain actors also indicated that the pandemic had not negatively affected their business activities.
Impact of falling remittances amid COVID-19 on Yemen’s war-torn economy
Elsabbagh, Dalia; Kurdi, Sikandra; Wiebelt, Manfred. Washington, DC 2022

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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic battered economies across the world, Yemen had already experienced a half decade of civil war, resulting in a loss of approximately 45 percent of its real GDP by the end of 2019, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Planning. As the conflict continued, remittances from Yemenis working outside the country kept many households afloat and became an increasingly important source of income, estimated at $3.77 billion in 2019 — around 13 percent of GDP.
COVID-19 and food inflation scares
Vos, Rob; Glauber, Joseph W.; Hernandez, Manuel A.; Laborde Debucquet, David. Washington, DC 2022

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Rising food prices during 2021 caused concern worldwide. In January, international prices for major food items climbed to a level near the heights of the global food price crises of 2007–2008 and 2010–2011, according to the FAO Food Price Index. International prices declined in the first months of the pandemic, following the initial lockdown measures that were imposed to contain the pandemic, but by October 2021, prices in international markets had risen by about 30 percent over March 2020 levels. In many countries, consumer prices for food also surged, generating fear that this could lead to rising food insecurity (see, for example, Gerard 2021).
Uneven recovery and a lingering food crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic for rural safety net transfer recipients in Ethiopia
Gilligan, Daniel O.; Berhane, Guush; Hirvonen, Kalle; Kumar, Neha; Leight, Jessica. Washington, DC 2022

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In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at IFPRI and elsewhere worked quickly with their partners in government, the private sector, and survey firms to provide evidence on the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis and related restrictions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, systematic evidence on the effects of the crisis has been more limited in the ensuing months up to and after the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. Early analysis of economic models of the crisis suggested that its economic effects would be severe in the short run and greatest in Africa south of the Sahara, where the pandemic and related lockdowns were projected to depress incomes of both urban workers and rural households (Laborde, Martin, and Vos 2021). Phone surveys and rapid assessments conducted in the first weeks of the pandemic reported significant job losses in both rural and urban areas (Wieser et al. 2020), disruptions to urban food value chains (Tamru, Hirvonen, and Minten 2020), and declines in household dietary diversity in Addis Ababa (Hirvonen, de Brauw, and Abate 2021). In the time since those initial projections and rapid surveillance surveys were conducted, researchers have revisited the same samples to analyze the medium-term effects of the pandemic. In addition, they have gathered information on households at the economic margins of society and those considered to be less affected by the pandemic by virtue of their sector of employment or remote location.
Beyond initial impacts: The evolving COVID-19 context and food system resilience
McDermott, John; Lee, Deborah; McNamara, Brian; Swinnen, Johan. Washington, DC 2022

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As we mark the second anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health, economic, and social disruptions associated with this global crisis continue to evolve. The impacts of the pandemic are prolonged and likely to endure for years to come. Poor, marginalized, and vulnerable groups have been disproportionately affected, with informal and migrant workers, refugees and displaced persons, and women and children particularly vulnerable and adversely impacted.