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Research highlights damaging impact COVID continues to have on world’s poorest communities

Press release3 October 2022
'Keep Distancing' street art in Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya
'Keep Distancing' street art in Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Ed Ram / Concern Worldwide

The crippling impact which the COVID pandemic is still having on communities in some of the world’s poorest countries is highlighted by new research by Concern Worldwide and a group of EU humanitarian organisations.

Almost 8,500 people in 18 low income countries were interviewed between March and May, 2022 for the research by the Alliance2015 group of European non-government organisations. Their responses revealed the severe impact the pandemic was having on their lives including access to food, income levels, and coping mechanisms, 22 months after the pandemic began.  Among the key findings were:

  • One-third of respondents said some household members had gone to bed hungry over the previous three months;
  • More than half (51%) said the quality of their food had worsened and 62% reported that the quantity of food they consumed had decreased. More than half of respondents said the price of basic foodstuffs had at least doubled;
  • Some 53%  of those surveyed said their income had fallen due to the effects of COVID and 57% said their income was not sufficient to buy food;
  • Coping mechanisms included cost-cutting (56%), borrowing (43%) and use of grants or assistance programmes by governments or non-government organisations (34%).  Of those who reduced expenditure, 82% said they had cut spending on food.

“While in Ireland, the beneficial effects of vaccines and government economic supports eased the worst impact of the pandemic, in many poorer countries the fallout from COVID continues to undermine the resilience of millions of people facing overlapping crises including climate change, conflict and economic downturns,” Concern’s Head of Technical Assistance Chris Pain said.

Impact on food

The impact has been far reaching, according to those surveyed. Access was reduced to quality food for many people  due to rising food costs and restrictions due to COVID on transport and movement.  54% of respondents reported that the quantity of food available in local markets had reduced since the pandemic.  In addition one-third said pandemic restrictions meant they had difficulty getting to markets.

COVID has also negatively affected the education of children --  especially children who were most at risk prior to the pandemic --  with schools closing for extended periods during the pandemic.  The loss of supports for low income families – such as school meals, transport, sanitation and protection – added to financial pressures on families who were unable to keep their children in school.  For example, in Syria, the research found that drop out levels for under-11s were 21%, rising to 81% for girls aged over-16.

The report makes a number of recommendations for the EU in order to address the disproportionate impact which the pandemic has had on those living in extreme poverty.  These include strengthening its support to partner countries so that can better deal with the impacts of the pandemic and greater investment in mitigation and anticipatory actions, to anticipate shocks and quickly respond to them.

To read  the Alliance2015’s  ‘Community Resilience & the Ongoing Impacts of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Households’ report visit:

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

Notes to the editor

The report is based on 8,461 surveys in the following 18 countries where Alliance2015 members are working: Bolivia; Burkina Faso;  Burundi; Central African Republic; Chad; Democratic Republic of Congo; , El Salvador; Georgia; Honduras, Liberia; Mali;  Nepal ; Niger;  Peru; Sierra Leone, ; Syria;  Uganda;  Zambia.



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