The Dire Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Africa

A new survey from four African countries on the COVID-19 pandemic shows significant impacts on food security and household income, and that COVID-19 has women apprehensive about accessing health care.

Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) is a family planning and sexual and reproductive health data collection project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with direction and support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Jhpiego in collaboration with national partners in each project country.

PMA conducted a survey in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Kinshasa province), Kenya, Burkina Faso and Nigeria (Lagos and Kano states) on levels of COVID-19 knowledge and the implications for women’s health and their economic prospects.

The survey results show significant impacts of COVID-19 on food security -- measured as one or more household members going 24 hours without food -- and income. In all geographies, three-fourths or more of women reported that their household lost at least partial income since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions. Complete loss of household income ranged from 16% in Burkina Faso to 62% in Kinshasa, DRC.

“While the women we interviewed have health concerns, our results show that the immediate concern for many is how to feed their family,” said Dr. Elizabeth Gummerson. “We’ve shared this with our government partners to help them shape their policy decisions, many of whom have formulated action plans to address these challenges as a result.”

Food security is severe and pervasive since the start of COVID-19 restrictions, and more common than before the restrictions. Thirty percent of women in Kenya report that at least one member of their household went without food since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, with 72% reporting that food insecurity is more common now compared to before restrictions began.

General awareness of the virus and its symptoms is high, as is the perceived risk of infection. Although more than 90% of women across settings are taking some preventive action, many find social distancing difficult. The most common reasons for this difficulty are the requirements of daily life – shopping in an open market, getting to work, and visiting friends and family who often live in intergenerational families.  

Between 20% and 50% of women in the countries surveyed needed to visit a health facility during COVID-19 mobility restrictions, but over 20% of them reported fear of the virus at the health facility.

Visit to view the full dashboard of results from each country.

About PMA

The Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) project is fueling a data revolution to guide family planning programs. Data are key to informing and driving policy and program changes around the world. High quality data — collected frequently, turned - around quickly, and locally owned — help decision makers understand what is working, and what is not, enabling decisions that are more sensitive and responsive to evolving needs.

The COVID-19 surveys were implemented by our partner institutions: Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP) in Burkina Faso; Kinshasa School of Public Health, University of Kinshasa in Kinshasa, DRC; International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRH-K) in Kenya;  and Centre for Research, Evaluation Resources and Development (CRERD) in Nigeria. 

Friday, October 16, 2020 - 11:00