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International research reveals the extent of the COVID impact on world’s poorest countries

A distribution of hygiene material to help prevent the spread of COVID in Haiti
In partnership with ECHO, Concern distributed hygiene kits to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Haiti. Veniel Metelus (right), staff of Concern Worldwide gives hygiene kits to local resident, Timeus Nelie (55), during a distribution by Concern in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery / Concern Worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a widespread and severe impact on some of the world’s poorest people, according to international research which surveyed people in 23 countries.

The research, undertaken by the eight member organisations of the Alliance2015 group (including Concern Worldwide), measured the impact of the pandemic across the areas of food, income, access to health and education, and community dynamics.  The first-hand experience of 13,820 people were sought by researchers.

Over 40% of all respondents experienced a decrease in food quantity and quality. Some 90% said their ability to earn income was worse than before the pandemic.

The experience varied according to the respondent’s location (urban, rural or camps), country and individual factors such as gender, household composition and the main source of income.  However, overall older people, those with disabilities, women and children were considered to be the worst affected.

Masks and Soap

While there was awareness among those surveyed of the virus and the steps necessary to protect themselves against it, masks and soap were not affordable for up to a third of respondents.  In the case of up to a quarter of respondents masks were not available.   Large household numbers meant that social distancing was not possible for 38% of respondents living in camps.

The proportion of respondents who reported a decrease in food quantity was highest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Ecuador and Kenya.  Those who considered that the quality of food they had, had reduced since the pandemic, were highest in Kenya, Ecuador, Malawi and Afghanistan.

The analysis of respondents who reported a fall in income, showed that casual labourers and petty traders were hardest hit. The research also found that three-quarters of respondents who received remittances said these payments had either decreased or had stopped completely during the pandemic.

Other Key Findings

Among the other key findings were:

  • Two-thirds of respondents who live in households with children consider their access to education has reduced, compared to the time before Covid-19;
  • One-third of those surveyed considered that the health and well-being of their family were worse now when compared to prior to the pandemic;
  • Up to 70% of respondents reported an increase in conflicts within their communities and their families.


“This research leveraged the Alliance’s global network to ascertain the true extent of COVID’s impact on the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Dominic MacSorley said.

“The findings, which are based on the first-hand testimony of thousands of people we work with, show the devastating impacts of this virus on food security, on people’s livelihoods and their children’s access to education”

Voice of the People

“This research provides a voice for people who are bearing the full brunt of COVID-19, people who even prior to the pandemic were struggling to survive,” he said. “It puts a spotlight on how communities are coping and where they need support at this unique moment of global humanitarian crisis. It is vital that the world listens to them and responds to their needs. We will not get a second chance.”

Data from the survey will be used to meet a number of key needs such as customising of project design, development agenda, advocacy and dialogue with multiple stakeholder groups.

The research findings can be accessed at

For media queries contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, at or 087 9880524

Notes to the Editor

Alliance2015 is a strategic network of eight European non-government organisations engaged in humanitarian and development action. The network members are: ACTED/France; Ayuda en Acción/Spain; Cesvi/Italy, Concern Worldwide/Ireland; HELVETAS /Switzerland, Hivos/The Netherlands; People in Need/Czech Republic; and Welthungerhilfe/Germany.

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