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Policy Brief

COVID-19 and Food Insecurity “Hot Spots” Analysis

Sara Higgins, Leland Fellow
Published 2021

Executive Summary

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread globally, health systems are strained and secondary impacts are often worse than the initial health crises – threatening livelihoods, food systems, and social protections, especially in vulnerable populations that were already coping with multiple crises. The World Bank estimates COVID-19 will cause global extreme poverty to rise for the first time in 20 years and estimates that in 2021 there could be 110 to 150 million people falling back into extreme poverty. The World Food Programme (WFP) is estimating that since the start of 2020 an additional 135 million people may need emergency food assistance, almost doubling the current needs.

Exponential growth of food insecurity is of particular concern given reduced incomes, slow food chains or agricultural production, increasing food prices, limited protection of vulnerable groups, increasing political instability, and changes in conflict (FAO & WFP, 2020, p.5). As such, this document highlights countries with projections for high levels of acute food insecurity in the context of COVID-19 to inform response planning and advocacy efforts, with countries of greatest concern highlighted. Secondary data acquired from multiple sources, cross-referenced with existing analyses, were used to select these priority countries.

In this version, 31 countries are included, with 14 highlighted as countries of greatest concern; supporting data is included in Annex I.

Read “COVID-19 and Food Insecurity ‘Hot Spots’ Analysis” at

Publication tags: Policy Brief

Higgins headshot

Sara Higgins

Leland Fellow