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Publication | 2024

Three years into the pandemic: Insights of the COVID-19 impacts on food security and nutrition in low and middle-income countries

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a global crisis with unanticipated and diverse consequences. Moreover, the pandemic has considerably impacted food dynamics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where food systems have already been challenged. These countries also have the highest share of the world's malnourished and food insecure. Therefore, this paper aims to analyze the pandemic's impact on food security dimensions (availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability), with a special emphasis on LMICs. According to the results, the pandemic immediately impacted food security by limiting food production and availability. It also had an indirect impact when lockdowns and other confinement measures (e.g., social distancing, movement restrictions) made it more difficult for individuals to access food and maintain a healthy, balanced diet (cf. food utilization). Indeed, with rising unemployment and poverty, access to food has been the most critically undermined aspect of food security. At the utilization level, COVID-19 adversely influences the nutritional state of both individuals and countries, leading to an increase in all forms of malnutrition. Finally, the impact of COVID-19 on the stability dimension is dependent on the length of the pandemic as well as the effectiveness with which recovery plans are followed to ensure universal vaccine availability, among other factors. As a result, including agricultural and food systems in recovery strategies is crucial to mitigating the pandemic's long-term effects on food security.