Assessing and Mitigating the Food Insecurity Consequences of COVID-19 in China

Funder:  Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity

Project overview

In an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Chinese government took drastic quarantine measures such as blocking roads, closing shops and confining citizens within residential compounds. These measures have major consequences for the food security of residents of affected areas. On social media, residents reported going hungry for days. To ensure food security in Chinese cities, the Chinese government and social organizations launched various immediate food security interventions and initiatives. However, this food security challenge has received much less media and research attention than the epidemic itself. This project will evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on household food security in Chinese cities, assess the effectiveness of temporary food security interventions from a multi-stakeholder perspective and develop social and policy measures to mitigate the impacts. Our objectives are to:

  • Investigate the immediate food security challenges resulting from China’s quarantine measures, unstable food supply, and fear of food shopping in two COVID-19 affected cities (Wuhan and Nanjing);
  • Compare food security in Nanjing following the COVID-19 outbreak with baseline data collected by HCP in 2015 [link to report];
  • Synthesize and assess policies established for and community response to address food security challenges and promote effective measures by engaging local stakeholders;
  • Draw lessons from the Chinese experience for other countries and cities experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project has two overlapping phases: (a) Evaluation of Immediate Consequences and Urgent Policy Responses and (b) Development of Comprehensive Food Security Assessment & Social and Policy Countermeasures. The project addresses several social and policy countermeasures. First, it will examine the cultural dimensions of COVID-19 by evaluating how households perceive and cope with food security challenges. Second, the research aims to evaluate the food security impacts of the drastic public health response, particularly the intercity and in-city quarantine measures. Third, it will assess the effectiveness of immediate food security interventions and make recommendations to mitigate the secondary impacts on food security and public health. Fourth, through surveys and interviews with citizens, food retailers, local social organizations and government officials, this project will involve local perspectives, citizens and communities in outbreak response efforts.

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