Responding to COVID-19’s Impact on Resilience and Food Security

Speeches Shim

The current pandemic has rocked the world. USAID is taking action to prevent widespread hunger, malnutrition and water insecurity abroad that would, if left unchecked, pose serious challenges to security and prosperity. We are responding in ways that simultaneously strengthen resilience to future shocks. 

On this page, you will find information and resources related to USAID’s long-term food security and nutrition response through Feed the Future and our work to ensure safe and sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene through Water for the World. 

These efforts depend on well-functioning and steady markets and supply chains. Already, COVID-19 is erasing jobs and income and shutting down entire sectors of the economy. Current data show that:

  • Extreme poverty may increase by 20% or 148 million people. (IFPRI)
  • The majority of this increase will be in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 
  • Emergency food assistance needs will increase by 25%. (FEWSNET)
  • 785 million people lacked access to safe water before COVID-19. The pandemic will likely increase those numbers. 
  • In a vicious cycle, shocks to nutrition will increase vulnerability to COVID-19 and other diseases.

USAID is taking proactive action to help countries mitigate the social and economic impacts caused by COVID-19 and measures to stop its spread. 

Feed the Future 

By addressing the root causes of hunger, poverty and malnutrition, the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative has made progress on some of the world’s most persistent problems -- even through major shocks like Ebola. We are responding to dynamic pandemic-related disruptions to food systems by adapting programs and partnerships while continuing to help partner countries advance and protect food security and nutrition.

We know that: 

  • Agriculture and the food industry play a major economic role in developing countries. Not only is employment and income at stake, but so is the flow of nutritious food through delicate supply chains as well as its affordability, which hits poor families the hardest. 
  • Malnutrition is especially dire during a pandemic as it can greatly increase the risk of disease and has irreversible life-long effects in children. 
  • For many, the food and agriculture sector will be the economic base on which to rebuild when the pandemic subsides.

Check out this fact sheet to learn more about how we’re responding. 

Visit the food assistance section of the USAID website to learn more about emergency food response. Visit the nutrition section for more on USAID’s integrated nutrition work across health, food and water systems and emergency response. 

Water Security, Sanitation and Hygiene 

Water security, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are critical to immediate prevention and control of COVID-19, as well as to long-term recovery and promotion of resilience in the face of the next pandemic or other shock. 

We know that:

  • Handwashing is our first layer of defense against COVID-19. However, without reliable access to water, it is impossible. 
  • Economies and jobs depend on water: an estimated three out of four jobs globally depend on water. This means that water shortages and problems accessing water and sanitation limit economic growth and job creation. 
  • Reliable water supplies need to be maintained to safely reopen communities, businesses, markets and schools to enable handwashing to prevent second waves of transmission and additional infectious diseases such as cholera.

Check out this fact sheet to learn more about how we’re responding and visit for more information. 

Our Response

As we help countries respond to the health implications of COVID-19, we are also helping them mitigate the impact it has on water and sanitation systems, agricultural markets, supply chains, employment, and the production of nutritious food. The good news is that we already have programs in place that are adapting to help keep food growing and markets going. 

We are also working to ensure that the global community prioritizes WASH in all locations--homes, communities, schools, marketplaces, as well as health care facilities. 

To learn more about our responses and guidance on responding to and mitigating COVID-19’s impact on food security, WASH and nutrition while strengthening resilience, please check out the resources below. 


Meeting Recordings: Stakeholder Community Meeting on COVID-19’s Impacts

Fact Sheets

COVID-19 Technical Guidance



Visit these technical sites to learn more about how the global development community is responding to COVID-19’s impacts on food security, resilience, nutrition and water security, sanitation and hygiene. 

To get the latest updates on our efforts to respond to COVID-19’s impact around the world, follow the Twitter handles below. 

For USAID implementing partner updates, sign up for the Office of Acquisition and Assistance emails here.