The Covid-19 pandemic arrived on the world stage in early 2020 and, as of the time of this writing, shows little sign of abating. Thus far, countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have mostly evaded an intense, direct public health effect of Covid-19, and this is indeed something to celebrate. However, the Covid-19 pandemic, inclusive of the associated policy responses, has affected food systems in SSA through numerous other avenues. The pandemic triggered a global recession, which in turn has negatively affected international supply and demand for some agricultural imports and exports and broadly reduced the flow of international remittances into lower-income countries. In addition, within SSA, policies have been adopted to prevent contagion or provide social protection. Restrictions on movement and economic activity vary across countries and span the closure of borders, directives to remain at home with exceptions made for limited essential activities, social distancing requirements in public spaces including markets and public transportation, and the closure of schools. Social protection policies implemented by governments and multilateral organizations to mitigate the harm caused by the Covid-19 pandemic include, among others, income support and food assistance. Such policies have myriad effects on actors throughout the food system, including producers, traders, transporters, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. Commentary and analyses regarding the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated policy responses in SSA have proliferated over the past year. Yet no broad evidence synthesis has been undertaken to unpack the complex impacts of the crisis, particularly with respect to domestic food value chains, regional/international food trade, and food and nutrition security (Porciello et al., 2020). This report applies a systematic literature review methodology to comprehensively survey the evidence on this topic. The objectives of this report are to:
It bears emphasizing that this report does not cover the health aspects of Covid-19, such as morbidity among workers or patterns of virus transmission associated with trade or migration. Rather, the focus is on the indirect avenues through which the pandemic has affected food systems and food security.