COVID-19 and food security in Ethiopia: Do social protection programs protect?

Assess the impact of Ethiopia’s flagship social protection program, the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) on the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and nutrition security of households, mothers, and children. Use both pre-pandemic in-person household survey data and a post-pandemic phone survey. Two thirds of our respondents reported that their incomes had fallen after the pandemic began and almost half reported that their ability to satisfy their food needs had worsened. Employing a household fixed effects difference-in-difference approach, we find that the household food insecurity increased by 11.7 percentage points and the size of the food gap by 0.47 months in the aftermath of the onset of the pandemic. Participation in the PSNP offsets virtually all of this adverse change; the likelihood of becoming food insecure increased by only 2.4 percentage points for PSNP households and the duration of the food gap increased by only 0.13 months.