Household responses to COVID-19 shocks: A food security implication in Kenya
Karitu, Patrick Mutwiri
Kamau, Joram Ngugi
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The primary objective of this study was to determine household coping mechanisms under COVID-19 pandemics and its implication on food security in the country. Poisson regression model was used to describe the relationship among a set of constructs that influence households meal count per month. The study identified coping strategies, credit listing and job loss as significant factors that determine the number of meals per month by various household. The study notes that the economic impact of COVID-19 has disproportionally impacted various households in the country differently based on their differential in their socio-economic status and their livelihood strategies. Based on this, it is important to understand the impact of this pandemic as well as the coping strategies employed by different household strata as they navigate the shocks of the pandemic. To combat this pandemic, households have shifted into more drastic coping mechanism to smoothen their consumption curve. More importantly, households have proportionally coped with the COVID-19-induced income shocks by changing their dietary patterns, which is also the most used coping strategy among the wage earners and those depending on transfer payments. Increased borrowing has also emerged as a major caution especially from the digital lenders who are less concerned about collateral. While this pandemic seems to continue into the foreseeable future, a raft of measures is recommended to caution the poor households against the pandemic. Protracted blanket lockdowns by the government should be the measures of last resort. Re-focusing on localized measures of ‘smart containment’ that both respond to the health crisis and limit economic consequences should be the focus.