Lessons Learned Research: Food Security | COVID-19 Situational Analysis

Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Syria
December 9, 2021
Situational Analysis

Executive Summary

iMMAP initiated the COVID-19 Situational Analysis project that collates data generated by humanitarian actors and other stakeholders including academia, the private sector, and government agencies as a solution to the growing global need for information, assessment, and analysis among humanitarian stakeholders.
After one year of producing the monthly situational analysis reports, the project is now seeking to document and report on lessons learned from a sector-based lens to benefit the humanitarian sector in the future. Through an exploratory study of the data availability and quality challenges humanitarian actors encountered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to mitigate the challenges, the aim of this study was three-fold, namely:

  1. Identifying what was particularly helpful in maintaining information flow to humanitarian actors during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  2. Identifying what was particularly challenging in maintaining information flow to humanitarian actors during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  3. Documenting lessons learned that will ensure the availability of quality data moving forward.

The study adopted a case study methodology involving a detailed review of both project documents and databases as well as key informant interviews across the six countries. The proposed methodology and tools for research comprised of secondary data collection, primary data collection, and analysis. In total iMMAP and DFS identified 360 humanitarian assessments that were conducted over the six countries; Bangladesh, Burkina Faso,
Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Syria. Unfortunately, in Burkina Faso, the primary data collection through the Key Informants Interview was not able to be conducted due to time constraints and the absence of Food Security experts in the area. In this case, the conclusion on the data collected for this one particular country was drawn solely based on the Secondary Data Collection findings. Generally, the findings of the research comprised inputs about Data Availability and Data Quality.

Overall, the Food Security sector was very well placed and organized owing to adherence to COVID-19 protocols combined with their strong advocacy with the authorities. The Food Security sector was able return more quickly to the face-to-face (F2F) modality of data collection activities after months of predominantly remote data collection relative to the other sectors. The data collected via F2F was richer and contained better analysis in comparison with assessments that used remote data collection. Furthermore, with remote data collection, the number of variables used was reduced, as was sample size in some of the countries and regions. However, with the reduced variables, the focus was very much on the populations most in need, and on prioritized indicators.

The Food Security sector had an abundance of data from a wide range of assessments and secondary data collections such as different Food Security assessments, market price monitoring, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), and Agriculture assessments. However, there were some limitations on the availability of data for the Food Security sector. A large number of datasets available were mostly food-specific, whereby agriculture data was not as rich. Access was highlighted as one of the major concerns in the beginning, making data on mortality issues inaccessible.

In terms of data collection during the pandemic, moving forward, there will be a need for more countermeasures for such disasters. Robust infrastructure to facilitate more data sharing, ensure contingency funding, improve harmonization, strengthen the areas of remote work, organize virtual meetings, and conduct data collection and analysis works should be prioritized. From the experiences of the six countries, these lessons were documented.
The support and endeavor of the local governments to cope up with the pandemic in terms of the information availability on Food Security, are extremely vital. Enhanced multistakeholders coordination will help data collection and catalyze the information flow among those stakeholders, including humanitarian actors. Information technology and electronic systems become an inevitable element that can be both an asset or a challenge to the dissemination of information during the pandemic. More trainings on how to conduct innovative and attractive online meetings are probably needed.

In supporting the extraordinary efforts of collecting data during the pandemic, more robust infrastructure need to be ensured. In most countries, poor internet connectivity becomes a hazard during disasters, on which rapid remote coordination is direly needed. In this case, a contingency plan shall be in place to address the situation. To address the challenge during disasters, proper allocation of resources and infrastructures is inevitable to ensure a working system of information flow amongst humanitarian actors.

Report PDF