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Publication | 8 July 2021

Life Amidst a Pandemic: Hunger, Migration and Displacement in the East and Horn of Africa

Global Food and Nutrition Security

The COVID-19 pandemic in the EHoA has further stressed a region that is already affected by conflict and insecurity, extreme weather conditions, climate change and pests. Mitigation measures aimed at reducing the spread of the virus have been generally effective in the region. However, the effect of the pandemic has caused food insecurity to spike due to the unintended negative consequences on the economy that have increased commodity prices, including staple food prices, thwarted access to basic services, and hindered people’s capacity to use mobility as a coping mechanism. As a result of these combined drivers of food insecurity, some 54 million people were estimated to be acutely food insecure in the EHoA region in 2020. As the pandemic’s impact lingers on the economy and livelihoods, this number is projected to remain at these high levels in 2021. Among the most vulnerable are displaced populations; by the end of 2020, the region hosted a total of 8.9 million IDPs and 4.7 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

Based on this joint analysis, IOM and WFP propose six key priority actions:

1: Ensure that migrants and populations affected by displacement have adequate access to lifesaving humanitarian assistance to meet their food, nutrition and other essential needs.

2: Ensure inclusivity and access to critical services, including COVID-19 immunization efforts, for migrants and populations affected by displacement.

3: Recognize the positive contributions of regional integration, labour migration and diasporas in complementing social protection systems, and facilitate the flow of remittances as an essential financial service in recovering from COVID-19.

4. Promote adjustments to national immigration regulations and standard operational procedures.

5. Promote gender-sensitive responses and increased protection towards vulnerable groups that have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19.

6: Improve evidence generation and coordination between humanitarian agencies for regular data collection and analysis to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on mobility and food security dynamics.