Transnational threats

COVID-19 Secondary Impact Analysis

West-Africa North Africa, Middle East, East Africa,
Mercy Corps
Ghana Nigeria, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Sudan, Niger, Mali,

In the past two weeks, COVID-19 has continued to spread in fragile places in Africa and the Middle East, acting as a threat multiplier and amplifying existing conflicts, humanitarian need, and poor governance. Among the most notable trends, we note that:

  • Food security continues to be a major concern in both regions. In addition to urgent needs resulting from the pandemic itself, COVID-19 is exacerbating already existing threats, such as the desert locust outbreaks in East Africa.

  • Markets and trade continue to be disrupted by government restrictions, resulting in important losses of livelihoods. For example, a preliminary assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the Lebanese labor market revealed that over 90% of male and female survey respondents had lost income.

  • Public trust and social cohesion are worsening across countries, as we witness increasing protests against governments responses but also more negative sentiments and suspicion on the role of INGOs and foreigners in the spread of the disease. 

  • In some places, we also note that the outbreak of COVID-19 has revealed that the crisis is having a greater impact on certain vulnerable populations, including women, refugee and migrant populations. In some cases this is because of built in discriminiation or exclusion in policy and response measures - for example in the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and for women in Iraq.  We also note that refugees and IDPs are often excluded from national response plans. 

Given these tends, Mercy Corps' key recommendations for the global response include:

  1. Immediate and substantial increase in funding for the response to COVID-19 secondary impacts, with funding being dispersed rapidly and with flexibility to frontline responders.

  2. Supporting governments to adapt restrictions to local contexts to ensure access to essential services for all populations.  

  3. Focusing on contextualised and culturally-sensitive community engagement from the outset to ensure acceptance of the response by communities while improving social cohesion. 

  4. Addressing secondary impacts of the pandemic as an integral part of the immediate response, working across the nexus of humanitarian, development and peacebuilding interventions. 

  5. Ensuring that vulnerable populations (refugees, IDPs, women, and other vulnerable populations) are included in plans to address COVID-19 and its secondary impacts. 


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