Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Sridhar et al. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition (2024) 43:27


Open access.


Introduction Food security and nutrition have been severely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to quantify the impacts of the pandemic on food security and diet diversity within Chilanga District in Zambia and identify target areas for high-impact social protection and safety net programs.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study in Chilanga district immediately after the Omicron variant surge in February 2022. Diet quality and food security were assessed based on a household diet questionnaire and a Minimum Dietary Diversity-Women (MDD-W) score was calculated. A paired t-test was used to determine whether there was a statistically significant change in the MDD-W score and McNemar test was used to investigate the change in food security between the pre- and peri-COVID-19 period.

Results Compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, there were increases in food prices across the board in the peri- COVID-19 period and decreased consumption of key food categories including legumes, dairy and vitamin A rich foods. Despite high rates of food insecurity, only 6.6% of surveyed households received any cash or in-kind assistance from a government agency, non-profit, or other organization in the post-COVID-19 period.

Conclusion The COVID-19 pandemic had significant impacts on food security and dietary diversity in Chilanga district. This is particularly relevant in the low-income communities that we surveyed, which had pre-existing challenges with food security. Additional resources must be invested in Chilanga District and similarly affected areas to address this gap in access to food and promote national equity.