Food Coalition

Promoting integrated community development with focus on social protection and migration to minimize the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is having a severe socio-economic impact on countries across Europe and Central Asia. Economic activity, private consumption and investment have slumped, jeopardizing the livelihoods of many, particularly those in poor rural areas. Even before the pandemic, the low profitability and instability of agriculture-based employment, coupled with a more general lack of income-generating opportunities, had been prompting rural populations to adopt various coping strategies, from multiple informal jobs and child labour to domestic and cross-border migration.

According to the World Bank, between 2.7 million and 4.2 million Central Asian labour migrants were estimated to work in the Russian Federation prior to the pandemic, with around 90 percent of their remittances going to meet the basic needs of rural households in their countries of origin. With border restrictions and the economic slowdown, poverty rates may rise if remittances fall, as they account for up to 30 percent of gross domestic product in countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (The Global Economy, 2009). The mass return of migrant workers to homelands after lockdown measures were imposed across Europe, the Russian Federation and the Middle East has left local economies and governments struggling to support them in re-establishing their livelihoods. The economic slowdown has already hit remittance-dependent households, increasing poverty and worsening food and nutrition security in vulnerable rural areas. An inadequate response may see a reversal of national progress on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDGs 1 and 2.

Priority Areas of work: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
Level: Regional
Region: Europe and Central Asia
Country: Armenia, Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Budget: USD 4 million


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