Tracking prices during COVID-19 in Kenya and Uganda

Policy brief Firms, Trade and COVID-19

  • This project serves as a proof of concept exploring whether it is possible to collect high-quality, high-frequency price data at scale through a crowd-sourcing approach.
  • We collected over 39,000 price quotes of essential food items in Kenya and Uganda between April 2020 and mid-March 2021, featuring a wide geographic coverage.
  • The findings suggest that prices were higher during the initial lockdown phase in 2020 but declined relatively swiftly thereafter. While price levels eventually fell, it was likely that higher prices had a substantial impact on food security.
  • The pandemic fundamentally altered mobility and consumption patterns above and beyond immediate government-imposed restrictions. We theorise that this was a result of changes in behaviour due to lockdown measures but can also be driven by the sustained adverse impact of the pandemic on income generating activities.
  • We estimate that an increase in activity at workplaces, grocery stores, and other retail locations are associated with a decline in food prices. The results are stable across a number of alternative specifications.