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Determinants and dynamics of food insecurity during COVID-19 in rural Bangladesh


  • Ahmed, Firoz
  • Islam, Asad
  • Pakrashi, Debayan
  • Rahman, Tabassum
  • Siddique, Abu


COVID-19 has threatened food security of the poor due to the lockdown of markets amidst poor institutions and lack of social safety nets in the developing world. To provide rapid evidence on the determinants and dynamics of food insecurity and to understand the coping strategies adopted by rural households during the pandemic, we carried out a telephone survey of roughly 10,000 rural households in Bangladesh, three weeks after the country went into lockdown. We found that roughly 90% of households reported experiencing a negative income shock after the countrywide lockdown was implemented. Households that primarily depend on daily casual labor for their income were affected the most, while households with regular jobs were affected the least in terms of food insecurity. Households adversely hit by income shock due to the pandemic were also found to rely more on past savings, food stocks, and loans from various sources to cope with the food crisis. When we followed-up 2402 households, about 3 to 4 weeks after the first survey, to understand the dynamics of food insecurity, we found that food insecurity increased significantly across households and began affecting groups that were in an advantageous position during the first survey. This poses a threat to the poor as food security has already worsened since the crisis hit and would presumably worsen further in the future unless rapid measures are taken to attenuate it at the earliest.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed, Firoz & Islam, Asad & Pakrashi, Debayan & Rahman, Tabassum & Siddique, Abu, 2021. "Determinants and dynamics of food insecurity during COVID-19 in rural Bangladesh," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:101:y:2021:i:c:s0306919221000439
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2021.102066

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Manyong, Victor & Bokanga, Mpoko & Akonkwa Nyamuhirwa, Dieu-Merci & Bamba, Zoumana & Adeoti, Razack & Mwepu, Gregoire & Cole, Steven M. & Dontsop Nguezet, Paul Martin, 2022. "COVID-19 outbreak and rural household food security in the Western Democratic Republic of the Congo," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 28(C).
    2. Michael Vlassopoulos & Abu Siddique & Tabassum Rahman & Debayan Pakrashi & Asad Islam & Firoz Ahmed, 2021. "Improving Women's Mental Health During a Pandemic," Munich Papers in Political Economy 11, Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and the School of Management at the Technical University of Munich.
    3. Saba, Saidatus & Sarker, Md. Abdur Rashid & Gow, Jeff, 2022. "Determinants of non-farm income diversification strategies and decisions of Bangladesh farm households," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 226-235.
    4. Hausmann, Ricardo & Schetter, Ulrich, 2022. "Horrible trade-offs in a pandemic: Poverty, fiscal space, policy, and welfare," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    5. Mohammad, Abdul Malek & Truong, Hoa T. & Sonobe, Tetsushi, 2021. "Changes in the Rural Economy in Bangladesh under COVID-19 Lockdown Measures: Evidence from a Phone Survey of Mahbub Hossain Sample Households," ADBI Working Papers 1235, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    6. Xinyue Lin & Lingli Qi & Haoran Pan & Basil Sharp, 2022. "COVID-19 Pandemic, Technological Progress and Food Security Based on a Dynamic CGE Model," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(3), pages 1-18, February.

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    More about this item


    Food insecurity; COVID-19; Poverty; Coping; Bangladesh;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy; Animal Welfare Policy


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