The COVID-19 pandemic is having far-reaching impacts on how people earn a living and meet critical needs. The Caribbean COVID-19 Food Security and Livelihoods Impact Survey was launched by CARICOM to rapidly gather data on impacts to livelihoods, food security and access to markets.
Two rounds of the survey have been carried out, implemented by the World Food Programme on behalf of the CARICOM Secretariat. This summary analyses data collected in the second round, carried out over the last two weeks of June 2020, which received 5,707 responses from 23 countries and territories in the Caribbean. It builds on findings from the first survey implemented in April 2020, which received 4,537 responses from 19 countries and territories. The survey was shared via social media, email and text message.
• COVID-19 and measures to contain it have impacted market access, but access may be improving. Seventeen percent of respondents reported that they could not access stores and markets at some point in the week prior to the survey, compared to about half in the April 2020, when a 24-hour curfew was in effect.
• The pandemic appears to be taking an increasing toll on incomes. Sixty-two percent of respondents have experienced job loss or a decline in salaries in their households, significantly higher than the April survey (43%). Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents who perceive their income as well below average reported such income loss.
• Disruptions to livelihoods are widespread. Nearly half of all respondents reported that their ability to carry out livelihoods was impacted, mainly owing to movement restrictions, concerns leaving the home and reduced demand for their products and services. Concerns about reduced demand for goods and services were more predominant reasons for business owners compared to salaried workers, which was similar to the April survey.
• Many people appear to view their loss in buying power as tantamount to reducing their market access. In April 2020, movement restrictions and store closures were the main impediment to market access, whereas lack of money to spend was the main reason in June 2020.
• The vast majority of respondents (84%) have changed their shopping behaviour since the pandemic began, mainly by buying larger quantities than usual, going to different stores or choosing cheaper or less preferred brands. Since the survey in April 2020, respondents have shifted from buying less large quantities to cheaper and less preferred brands.
• Slightly more respondents are reporting reducing their food consumption compared to the April 2020 survey, with a quarter reporting consuming less or going without eating. Respondents who perceive their income as below or well below average income appear to be more severly impacted.
The percentage with food stocks of at least one week (70%) was lower than in the April survey (89%).
• The vast majority of respondents (89%) predict that their livelihoods will be impacted in the future. People with income that they consider far below average are considerably more pessimistic than people with income far above average, and business owners have a more negative outlook than salaried workers.
• The main worry of most respondents are about job loss at the moment.
Almost as many are concerned about contracting the illness. Almost onethird expressed worry about meeting their essential needs. Since April, worries about food seem to have shifted to worries about a job and pay.
• People’s sentiments, gauged using artificial intelligence (AI) analysis of answers to open-ended questions, appear to have become more negative since April 2020.
While the use of web-based questionnaires makes this study possible, the survey’s representativeness is affected in unknown ways by people’s access to the internet and their incentives to respond.