5 Min Inspiration: Women finding ways through food crisis

 Bangladesh, Ghana
 Emergency ResponseFood Security,
 11th May 2020

Photo: VSLA member in Ghana. Credit: CARE/Josh Estey

In Ghana, they call them “market queens”—women traders who have the connections and influence to organize women, adjust market prices, and influence trading patterns in their area. Faced with government shutdowns in local markets to stop the spread of COVID19, these women found ways to organize social distancing and keep the markets open so people could eat.

By the end of 2020, the World Food Programme predicts that 265 million people will be facing starvation because of COVID19. CARE’s research shows a similar jump in hunger: in Bangladesh, 70% of women are worried that they can’t buy nutritious and diverse diets for their children. In Jordan’s Azraq camp, 50% of people are reporting food shortages—and 90% of women say food is their biggest need right now. For women, the picture is worse—women already make up 60% of the world’s hungry people, and are the first to lose their incomes and market access in crisis.

But as always, women are finding solutions—from Ghana’s market queens keeping markets open to women in the Philippines organizing fresh food CARE packages from rural areas for those who need vegetables in the cities. In 33 countries, CARE is working with women to find solutions, and helping more than 230,000 people get the food they need in crisis.

What are we doing?

  • Getting people food: In Peru, Ecuador, DR Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, and Thailand, we’re distributing fresh and packaged food so people can eat. Sometimes these are hot meals, sometimes its groceries. We’re buying as much food as we can locally. In the Philippines, buying from vegetable growers outside of cities and delivering food to densely populated areas with refugees is helping more than 179,000 people.
  • Helping people buy food: We’re also getting people the extra cash they need to buy food themselves. Jordan is getting emergency cash to 1,500 Syrian and Jordanian families. Haiti bumped up it’s food vouchers so people could buy extra stocks in case markets close. Ghana is getting cash transfers to more than 700 families. Ecuador is using a combination of cash and food to make sure everyone gets what they need.
  • Making food distribution safer: Nigeria is re-packaging food to ensure that its safe to deliver. Peru is sending hot meals home as takeout, rather than deliver it onsite. DR Congo is doing food distribution in smaller groups to ensure that we can comply with social distancing and keep people safe.
  • Helping people grow food: CARE knows the problem with food and COVID19 isn’t just what we can access today—it’s also about what people can grow for tomorrow and the months to come. To make sure that farmers can plant tomorrow’s food, CARE is helping distribute seeds in Malawi and Mozambique. In Indonesia, we’re working to make sure people plant food crops, instead of just cash cops that they can’t eat, and might not be able to sell this year.

Photo: JEOP Food distribution practices in Ethiopia during COVID-19 pandemic Credit: CARE Ethiopia

How are we doing it?

  • Focusing on the most vulnerable people: Nepal is specifically working with informal sector workers who have lost their jobs to help support minimum livelihoods. Myanmar is helping migrant workers who have lost their jobs buy meals. Ecuador, Peru, Jordan, and Syria are working with refugees to make sure they get enough to eat. Kenya is distributing food in the Dadaab refugee camp.
  • Sharing information with everyone: Ghana is using radio airtime specifically targeted for farmers to share information about COVID19, GBV, and other concerns—partnering with the government of Ghana to get the right messages in the right languages. Perú frequently sends messages through social media to general public and sends text messages and videos to women in CARE’s programs to help them through quarantine. In Mali and Niger, women are building local Whatsapp networks and text message lists to communicate important messages to each other. They’re also finding ways to use water points—where most women go every day—as a way to share key information with other women.
  • Advocate with the government: Ghana is working with traditional leaders and local governments to reduce risk with the increasing migration of people returning to their home communities as borders close and people are looking for livelihoods. Peru is collaborating with the Ministry of Health’s Mental Health office to create messages about mental health to share with those affected by the lockdown, mostly women.

Want to learn more?
Find out how COVID19 is affecting women and food security, and how CARE can Keep Inputs Flowing in Crisis. Look at CARE’s Guidelines for Gender, Youth, and Livelihoods in COVID19.

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