Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Income, Coping Strategies and Food Stockpiling: The Case of Ethiopia

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Kebede, Sindu W.
Maruta, Admasu A.
Geda, Nigatu R.
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African Economic Research Consortium
The novel coronavirus pandemic emerged since late 2019 and continues to spread rapidly throughout the globe. In Ethiopia, the first Coronavirus case was reported on March 13, 2020, and the number of cases has continued to increase afterwards. A covariate shock like COVID-19 influence livelihoods in general and income of various segments of the population in particular. This study examines heterogeneous impacts of COVID-19 on households’ income, households’ coping strategies and consumers’ food stockpiling behavior using gender differentiated approach and taking Ethiopia as a case. Data from two-round phone surveys of individuals was used. In the first round of the survey, 1,037 respondents were interviewed from April 2020 in urban and rural areas of Ethiopia. A follow-up telephone survey was conducted in October 2021 on a sub-set of sampled respondents from the first round of the survey. In the second round telephone survey, 453 interviews were conducted urban and peri-urban areas of Ethiopia. Findings from the study indicated that COVID-19 and its containment measures have substantially impacted income of male-headed households compared to female-headed households. About 50% and 44% of male-headed and female-headed households, respectively, were affected by income reduction induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both male and female respondents reported saving as the most commonly used coping strategy against income decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a lower percentage of females used savings as the primary coping strategy than males. This result could be strongly linked with the existing gender disparity in financial inclusion in Ethiopia. In addition, variations are observed across male and female respondents. About 25% of male-headed and female-headed households have stockpiled food items since the release of the news about the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic has widened the difference in hours spent on reproductive and domestic activities among male-headed and female-headed households. While the number of hours spent per day on reproductive activities for men increased only from 1.63 before the pandemic to 1.8 during the pandemic, for women, the reported increase is from 3.8 to 4.4 hours per day. This is a significant increase for women respondents as compared to men respondents. Hence, it is important to initiate revolutionary change for equality by addressing issues related to reproductive and domestic activities, such as, monetization and recognition of these activities. It is evident that, in the home, women perform the bulk of reproductive activities (e.g., childcare and caring for the sick) and domestic activities (e.g., house cleaning and cooking). Although these jobs are unpaid and invisible, they are fundamental aspects of daily life in particular and the entire economy in general.