The food systems that serve billions of low-income urban consumers around the world are notoriously hard to analyze, consisting of a multitude of actors from fork to farm, formal and traditional activities and partial or even contradictory data. Nonetheless, data on these food systems is critical to support improved decision-making, data-driven policy insights and future research on nutrition and food security.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected access, affordability, and consumption of nutritious foods, especially for low-income consumers in Africa. For example, in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, approximately 60% of the population lives in dense slums under conditions particularly vulnerable to food system shocks. To better understand how COVID is impacting these residents, Alliance researchers are collecting high-frequency data via telephone interviews, which will be used to inform policy interventions, and partnerships with local food suppliers.
The following excerpts, translated from Swahili, are from calls with Kibera and Mathare residents explaining how the pandemic has affected their lives. While these calls paint a grim picture of residents lacking access to water and income and facing high rates of disease, careful listening helps researchers find details and granularity that reveal food system flows and food consumption patterns before and during the crisis, and develop better approaches for a post-COVID recovery.