COVID-19 and the social distribution of hunger in three Caribbean Small Island Developing States

Howitt et al.


To determine changes to income and livelihood, food consumption, and hunger due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in three Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean: Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.


This was a cross-sectional study conducted in July 2020. Participants were selected using telephone directories and lists of mobile numbers. Data were collected through face-to-face and telephone interviews. Participants rated the impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods and the Adult Food Security Module was used to assess hunger. To examine how these outcomes varied by sociodemographic group, multivariable logistic regression analysis was used, with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) reported.


The analysis included 880 participants. Of these, 40% (344/871) reported some form of hunger, with 18% (153/871) classed as moderate-to-severe hunger. Almost three quarters of households reported some impact on their livelihood (640/880), with 28% (243/880) classifying this impact as moderate to severe. Women were 60% more likely to report that their livelihoods were moderately to severely affected by COVID-19 (OR 1.59; 95% CI 1.09, 2.31) and 70% more likely to experience moderate-to-severe hunger (OR 1.70; 95% CI 1.37, 2.09). The effects of COVID-19 on livelihood and hunger were greater in those with secondary-school and primary-school education compared with tertiary education.


The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable segments of the population. Social protection programmes are a key component of efforts to alleviate the pandemic’s consequences; however, equitable access must be ensured.

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