Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Series: Agriculture and Food Security in the Face of COVID-19 - Evidence from High Frequency Phone Surveys in Five African Countries

"What role is agriculture playing in household livelihoods during the pandemic? What is happening to household food security? How do we collect the data to answer such questions in the time of COVID-19?"

As the pandemic pushes on across the globe, many data collection efforts aimed at understanding the wellbeing of households were forced out of the field. Phone interviews gained ground as an alternative mode of data collection to provide near real-time household-level data on the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic in developing countries. In this session, you will learn about the methodology and key findings from a series of World Bank-supported monthly phone surveys conducted since the onset of the pandemic, and what they say about the state of agriculture and food security during the pandemic period in five sub-Saharan African countries: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda.

Since April 2020, the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team, in collaboration with the Poverty GP, has supported a total of 22 completed rounds of phone-based data collection in these five countries. The surveys consist of monthly phone interviews with a national sample of households that had been interviewed face-to-face during earlier rounds of national longitudinal household surveys implemented by national statistical offices (NSOs), with support from the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study - Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) program. Results show that in the face of the pandemic, the already vulnerable food security situation has worsened, as food price shocks hit and coping mechanism were stretched. Households have shifted into agriculture, presumably as a means of buffering the multiple shocks these countries are undergoing. Agriculture-related shocks, such as price changes for both inputs and outputs, and movement restrictions have also been prevalent and have hindered the agricultural activities of many households.

About the Presenters

Laura Ralston

Senior Economist, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Laura Ralston is a Senior Economist with the Agriculture and Food Global Practice at the World Bank. She focuses on strategies to support data access and utilization for agri-food systems, with emphasis on increasing equity and sustainability in developing countries. She has worked with the Bank in a variety of roles since 2013, including a field posting in the Indonesia country office, using technology and data for economic empowerment in rural areas, as well as project leadership experience in youth employment programs in several countries in Africa. Laura enjoys developing collaborations across the World Bank and with external partners, with a focus on innovation and sharing of ideas. Towards these goals, she has led data partnership work on monitoring citizen sentiments, developing new methods for poverty targeting, and coordinated several impact evaluations across sectors in Africa and East Asia. Laura received her Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed her undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics.

Akuffo Amankwah

Economist, Development Data Group, The World Bank

Akuffo Amankwah is an Economist with the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team in the Development Data Group of the World Bank. His primary area of research is poverty, labor, aquaculture, agriculture and rural development, and methodological studies to improve household surveys. As a member of the LSMS team, he designs and implements household surveys using advanced CAPI technologies. He is heavily engaged in the Nigeria General Household Survey – Panel and the Nigeria High-Frequency Phone Survey series. He has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and an MPhil degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ghana.

Sydney Gourlay

Economist, Development Data Group, The World Bank

Sydney Gourlay is an Economist with the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team in the Development Data Group of the World Bank. She is also a member of the Methods & Tools Development team of the 50x2030 Initiative. Her primary area of research is survey methodology with a particular focus on agriculture. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from American University in Washington, DC.

Dorte Verner

Lead Economist, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Dorte Verner (Ph.D. Economist) is a Lead Economist in the Africa Region in the Agriculture and Food Global Practice (AGF), the World Bank where she leads the food security agenda and is the lead for FCV in the AGF.  Previously, Dorte was the Principal Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) where she led the global evaluation of IDB’s climate-related interventions for a decade. She also served as the Climate Coordinator in the World Bank’s MENA Region and led the Latin America and the Caribbean region’s work on the Socioeconomic Implications of Climate Change. Dorte has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and produced numerous books and reports on, e.g., climate change, labor markets and jobs, FCV, and poverty reduction. She has developed and supervised the implementation of World Bank projects and won two World Bank Green Awards and a Sustainable Development award for her projects and research. Before joining the World Bank, Dorte worked in the Development Center of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as a researcher at the European University Institute and Paris I (Sorbonne), and in the private sector in São Paolo, Brazil. Moreover, Dorte serves on the UNHCR’s Advisory Board for livelihoods, she is a fellow at the Explorers Club based on her climate change adaptation work, and an award-winning photographer (www., including for her awareness-raising work on the lives and livelihoods of refugees and food insecurity.

Aslihan Arslan

Senior Economist, IFAD  

 Aslihan Arslan leads multiple research projects related to agricultural productivity, climate resilience, rural out-migration, and climate change mitigation potential of agricultural practices promoted by IFAD and others. She also leads some impact assessments of IFAD projects related to these themes and co-leads the 2019 RDR on Investing in Rural Youth. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California at Davis, where she specialized in agricultural development and natural resource economics. Her dissertation was an investigation into the subjective values of traditional maize varieties for smallholders in rural Mexico using theoretical and empirical modeling.

Questions Submitted


- Jul 23, 2021


- May 28, 2021

Lynn Ioana

- Apr 25, 2021
good knowledge sharing

Joy Mildred Adhiambo

- Apr 19, 2021
Great Webinar

Mohammad Nadir

- Dec 7, 2020


- Dec 6, 2020
Nice course
Log in to comment  Don't have an account? Register Now