Herself and her children: How worse off are they? Impact of COVID-19 in rural Bihar

Project Active from to COVID-19

COVID-19 has created a perfect storm for global malnutrition. The crisis is expected to adversely affect the nutritional status of households—particularly vulnerable groups like women, children and aged—through livelihood and income losses related to government-mandated shutdowns and de-globalisation, freezing of food transfer schemes such as school feeding programs, supplementary nutrition programme implemented under Integrated Child Development Scheme, breakdown of food markets due to both demand shocks and supply constraints, and healthcare failures. Although the Central and State Governments have both announced several relief measures, media reports that implementation of such measures has been poor. Further, households with political links are often better able to access such programmes.

This study aims to examine the impact of the national lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19 on dietary practices of women and their children in rural Bihar, financial status of household, and access to government schemes, and quantify the resultant change in their welfare. The researchers aim to:

  1. Examine the extent to which COVID-19 affects dietary practices of women and children;
  2. Assess whether households are able to access Government programmes aiming to mitigate such adverse effects;
  3. Quantify the resultant change in welfare using the concept of compensating variation; and
  4. Examine whether political connections of household members improves access to government schemes, thereby reducing welfare losses.

Given that COVID-19 is projected to remain for the next two years, recurring in repetitive waves, and that current relief measures have implementation and leakage related issues, this knowledge should be useful in designing bailout measures to ensure better targeting of relief measures directed to ensure food security, reduce leakages, and make such policies more inclusive. Further, the results of this study should also help to improve service delivery to vulnerable sections in general and in the context of disasters.