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The IPC in the context of COVID-19

The IPC in the context of COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected all aspects of people’s lives across the globe. It has placed an enormous strain on all systems and triggered uncertainty in all sectors, including food security. The pandemic is disrupting the global food supply chain in various ways which could result in people not being able to access or afford food.

Based on preliminary observations, COVID-19 has reduced food availability and access by: halting livelihood activities at household level, disrupting food production, limiting access to food markets, reducing global food reserves and causing a spike in food prices in some countries. It may also impede the ability of the humanitarian system to deliver Humanitarian food and nutrition related assistance.

This trend raises concern, in particular, for populations who are already facing high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition and who have a very limited or no capacity to cope with the crisis. The effects of the pandemic could see countries already experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity plunge into an even more critical situation.

What is the IPC doing?

The IPC plays a major role in informing decisions on resource allocations and programming of food and livelihood assistance in over 30 countries. COVID-19 does not change that. In fact, the pandemic makes the IPC’s work even more critical.

In the current context of travel restrictions and containment, the IPC partnership has adapted its usual approach of having in-person country analyses. By leveraging existing technologies and tools, such as the web-based IPC Information Support System (ISS), the IPC initiative is well-positioned to carry out its activities in a way that does not put people at risk: by going digital.

This reality has thus led the IPC to develop alternative approaches to conducting food security and nutrition analysis at country level, to bring much needed actionable information to the decision-makers. With its large pool of experienced food security and nutrition analysts, using virtual processes, the IPC stands ready to help through this global crisis. This implies ensuring that analyses conducted during this period capture the effects of COVID-19 on food insecurity and malnutrition.

How does the IPC virtual analysis process work?

The IPC Global Support Unit (GSU) will provide online support to country teams with the aim of producing high quality analyses, while ensuring plurality, consensus by country analysts and an evidence based process. The GSU’s level of engagement with analysis teams will be tailored to countries’ needs, capacity and number of areas to analyse.

Alternative Ways of Conducting IPC Trainings and Analyses in The Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The IPC virtual analysis process will rely on the following stakeholders:

  • A lead facilitator for each country who will receive technical guidance from the GSU throughout the IPC analysis process.
  • A country facilitation team who will oversee the work of the IPC analysis team. Each member of the facilitation team will lead a small group of analysts working on a specific area of a country. If necessary, the GSU will provide co-facilitators from its pool of global and regional experts if local resources are not available.
  • The country IPC Technical Working Group (TWG) will identify 15-20 analysts to form the core analysis team. They will be split into groups of two to three people representing different institutions (government technical services, UN agencies, NGOs, etc.). These groups will be responsible for conducting the analysis for a given group of areas, with the support of an IPC facilitator.
  • Local focal points from each area/region will be consulted at different stages of the analysis process and will share their knowledge of the local context. These members typically belong to local government technical services, NGOs or UN field offices.
  • Members of the larger IPC analysis team (which includes up to 90 experts) will still be able to contribute to and provide feedback on the analysis findings, and will be consulted at various stages of the process.

The IPC virtual analysis process will follow a four-stage approach: Planning, Preparation, Analysis and Wrap-up.

A high-speed internet connection of 3mbps or higher (such as 3G) is required to take part in IPC virtual analyses.

The GSU has also developed a Quick Guide for IPC analysts to identify the key steps of the virtual analysis and the required tools. This guide is available upon request to the IPC GSU.

Can IPC trainings also be conducted virtually?

In order to ensure adequate capacity to conduct IPC analyses, the IPC initiative offers the possibility of conducting virtual training sessions, during which learners and trainers are in separate locations. This is achievable by using the online IPC Learning System hosted in the Moodle learning platform and through webinars. Digital training content such as videos and podcasts will enhance the quality of distance training and learning. 

Virtual IPC courses and webinars will be adapted to the needs of the country. All that is required to take part in IPC virtual trainings is a high-speed internet connection of 3mbps or higher. For mobile devices, a minimum of 3G coverage is required.

What are the evidence requirements for IPC analyses in the context of COVID-19?

Given the major constraints related to data collection in the field in the context of COVID-19, the IPC has established which alternative data sources can be used while ensuring that analyses do meet the minimum evidence requirements.

IPC classifications can still be completed through the following strategies:

  • Using outcome evidence on food consumption and livelihood change collected through Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing.
  • Using existing baseline data from the Household Economy Approach.
  • Using inferred evidence collected in the last six months.
  • Using historical outcome evidence collected during the season of analysis in similar years (from the last five years).
  • Utilizing protocols for areas with limited or no humanitarian access.

*Although only one of these strategies would be necessary to meet minimum evidence requirements, the IPC strongly recommends using at least two in order to increase the robustness of the analysis.

Guidance note on minimum evidence required for IPC Virtual Analyses

How to develop scenarios and project food security and nutrition situations in the context of COVID-19.

The IPC Global Support Unit has developed guidance for the country IPC Technical Working Groups on parameters to be considered when developing the most likely scenario for IPC projections. It is critical that analyses are able to provide information to decision makers early enough on the evolution of the food security and nutrition situation in order to inform the most appropriate response. 

Guidance on how to build assumptions for IPC projections (in light of the COVID-19 pandemic)

Can the IPC assist in providing information on the food security situation of the most vulnerable populations in urban settings?

The food security situation of the most vulnerable populations in large urban settings is of high concern when considering the implications of COVID-19, including government mitigation measures, such as lockdowns, and possible disruptions to the supply chain. Measures that would reduce the mobility of people who are struggling to earn an income on a daily or weekly basis are likely to have detrimental effects on their ability to purchase and access basic food commodities. The challenge to conduct IPC analyses in these areas stems from the inadequate availability of the required data to build the food security picture of today and project the likely food security situation of these populations for the months to come. The IPC partnership is exploring the feasibility of producing such analyses in selected cities. 

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