Food systems in resource-constrained countries are constantly under stress. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, GAIN has been helping to build more resilient systems to preserve progress in nutrition.
Although nutritional indicators have improved in many countries over the decades, food systems everywhere remain highly vulnerable to disruption. Weather events and input prices can affect production; conflict can affect trade and distribution, and misinformation can disrupt consumption patterns. The most dramatic disruption to food systems experienced in recent years came from the rapid spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus (COVID-19) and the measures that governments put in place to contain transmission.
The Standing Together for Nutrition partners estimated that COVID-19 could, by 2022, lead to an additional 9.3m wasted children and 2.6m new cases of stunting.
In mid-2020, GAIN launched a portfolio of interventions aimed at responding to the COVID crisis. We called this portfolio Keeping Food Markets Working. It aimed to: provide emergency cash support and targeted technical assistance to food system SMEs at risk of closing; support the maintenance and expansion of staple food fortification in the face of disruption of global trade; reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in physical food markets and keep them open; help vulnerable workers access emergency food, and support local policy makers in their planning and response. The programme was closed in 2022, but we continue to apply the lessons across our portfolio. More information about GAIN's response to COVID-19 are available here.
Previous GAIN programmes in this area included a portfolio of actions responding to cyclone damage in Mozambique. We are currently working on arid land food system development in Kenya (USAID NAWIRI).