- Countries in the region have reacted to the global COVID-19 pandemic with swift and rigorous measures that have avoided spread of the virus but also had a large impact on socio-economic outputs 2. Countries that are fragile and in conflict situations are witnessing a significant impact that will aggravate existing economic and humanitarian challenges.
- In Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon political instability, depreciation of the local currency and inflation led to an increase in food prices and decreased households purchasing power.
- In addition, in oil producer countries such as Algeria, Iraq and Libya, the decrease in global oil prices and demand have hampered the response putting further pressure on the country’s budget.
- Restrictions on movement and social distancing measures implemented by all the countries in the region have exacerbated these trends hampering households’ access to work, regular income, remittances, markets, schools and healthcare. Consequently, the capacity of vulnerable households to access basic services and afford essential needs – including food, education and medicines – has decreased while already-high poverty levels are rising.
- The negative impact of COVID-19 on both households’ food consumption and use of coping strategies is evident: the share of households consuming inadequate diets has increased dramatically, especially in Syria and Yemen, reaching the highest levels in the past five years. At the same time more households had to resort to negative food based and livelihood coping strategies to meet essential needs.
- Lower income, depletion of saving and decreased governments capacity to respond to a second wave of coronavirus may dampen economic recovery, worsen poverty and inequality, and lead to important deterioration of household food security while increasing people’s needs.