ZEF PARI: New Publication | ‘We would rather die from Covid-19 than from hunger’ – Exploring lockdown stringencies in five African countries

A new paper I from the PARI project has just been published in Global Food Security, exploring Lockdown stringencies in five African countries.


  • Policy-makers face severe trade-offs between lockdown stringency and food security.
  • We analyzed 1188 newspaper reports from five African countries
  • The countries did not merely mimic the lockdown response of high-income countries
  • Food security considerations and political freedom influence lockdown stringency
  • Understanding the political economy helps to support nutrition-sensitive lockdowns


Facing COVID-19, African countries were confronted with a dilemma: enacting strict lockdowns to “flatten the curve” could potentially have large effects on food security. Given this catch-22 situation, there was widespread concern that Africa would suffer most from the pandemic. Yet, emerging evidence in early 2021 showed that COVID-19 morbidity remained low, while “biblical famines” have been avoided so far. This paper explores how five African countries maneuvered around the potentially large trade-offs between public health and food security when designing their policy responses to COVID-19 based on a content analysis of 1188 newspaper articles. The findings show that food security concerns played an important role in the public policy debate and influenced the stringency of lockdowns, especially in more democratic countries.

Access the whole paper

Source: ZEF PARI, 13 September 2021