COVID-19 and Conflict

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate gender inequities and the root causes of malnutrition, pushing more people into all forms of malnutrition.

It is estimated that because of the pandemic an additional:


1.8 million women will experience anemia.


3 million children will be born to mothers with a low body mass index.


44.3 billion future productivity losses due to excess stunting and child mortality¹.

Good nutrition is a matter of resilience.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have also increased the risk of weight gain in adults and children².

This is, in part, because COVID-19 is exacerbating income inequality, which, in turn, is having an impact on people’s ability to purchase healthy and nutritious foods.

And yet, while good nutrition is becoming harder to attain for millions of people, in a pandemic and post pandemic era, immunity and resilience matter more than ever.

Macro- and micro-nutrients, including folic acid, zinc, selenium, and vitamin D support immune resistance against the COVID-19 disease.


10 of the world’s worst 13 food crises are driven by conflict in an era when global violence is on the rise.

60% of world hunger is happening in countries affected by conflict and projections are increasing with the worldwide impacts of the Ukraine crisis.

Children living in areas of conflict are twice as likely to experience malnutrition, while four out every five children whose growth has been stunted live in areas affected by conflict.

Gender based violence and gender inequity is more widespread in contexts affected by conflict, which means that girls and women are at much greater risk of malnutrition.

The impact of conflict on food systems is often catastrophic, causing disruptions along the entire chain from production to post-production, transport, market access, impacting a country’s imports, exports, inflation rates, investment growth and market volatility.

Despite this outlook, in contexts affected by conflict, there are impactful ways to improve peace, gender equality, and reduce malnutrition. Improving gender equity has a transformational impact on societies, economic stability, and consequently on peace.

At FHI Solutions, we are working with gender activists to catalyse the condition for girls, boys, women, and men to empower themselves and their communities towards greater gender equality.

Innovation and policy change are also necessary to build resilience in food supply chains, especially in times of conflict where people have less access to nutritious foods. Measures to improve climate adaption and mitigation can reduce conflict over natural resources and increase stability over time.

The Ukraine crisis

Across the globe, food value chains are facing unprecedented pressures due to COVID-19, climate change, and the impacts of the Ukraine crisis.

Rising food and fuel prices, disruptions to supply chains, lower produce yields, and other challenges are impacting the access, availability, and affordability of nutritious foods for millions of people, impacting girls and women the most.

In Africa, the fertilizer shortage caused by the ban on Russia exports is exacerbating food supply issues with the 30% reduction in fertilizer the equivalent to feeding one hundred million people³.

Page references:

¹ The Standing Together for Nutrition Consortium, 2021, A Resilient Future. Investing Today to Safeguard Tomorrow; See PDF.

² Hawkes and Gallagher Squires, 2021; A Double-duty food systems stimulus package to build back better nutrition from COVID-19; Nat Food 2, 212-214 (2021); See reference here.

³ See additional reference here.