This project is active

CORE-Africa aims to strengthen responses to the COVID-19 situation of nine DGIS-funded projects across Africa, and to capture lessons for interventions and policies more broadly. Launched on 1 July 2020, and through the nine lead projects, CORE focuses on nutritious food value chains including horticulture, dairy, oilseeds, pulses and livestock.

The challenge

The COVID-19 crisis creates bottlenecks and problems, as well as quick and abnormal changes in food value chains. The situation is unfolding, with impacts likely to build and shift over time. There are serious risks for food provision to consumers, for the viability of businesses, for employment and for farmers and their communities. In these unprecedented circumstances there is a need for quick learning and responses. We must collect information and data rapidly, integrate hygiene and operational health & safety measures, strengthen the resilience of food chains/systems and coping strategies of actors within them, and integrate relevant digital solutions.


  • Strengthen concrete COVID-19 responses in 9 lead DGIS projects (and beyond);
  • Enable quality actions in 4 specific focus areas (rapid assessments, strengthening resilience, hygiene, and digitalisation);
  • Extract insights and lessons for a broader community of practice and policy.

Nine lead projects


Four key components

Rapid assessments and monitoring for adequate responses

Challenge: Food chains are experiencing unprecedented and sudden changes due to COVID-19, including lack of inputs, shortage of labour, transport challenges, financing issues, availability of food and price shifts. To cope and respond, we must be able to quickly and correctly assess situations. Existing data and monitoring systems are not usually sufficient.

Outlook: Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has shaped a rapid value chain/(sub-) sector assessment methodology. It collects qualitative data from a carefully selected set of stakeholders through an app/questionnaire and focus groups. The final product is a brief that presents key challenges in the value chain/(sub-) sector along with actions and actors involved. Upon request, lead projects can be equipped with this tool and supported by the CORE hub to adapt it to their specific value chains and settings. These rapid assessments will assist project teams in strengthening value chain actors’ capacity to analyse the situation and inform individual and joint responses, as well as contribute to wider sector- or country-specific policy discussions.

Strengthening resilience in domestic food value chains

Challenge: The current crisis is exposing how dependant some countries and chains have become on imports and exports of food, inputs and other materials. Renewed attention and stimulus for domestic food production, trade and consumption are already emerging. Strengthening food systems to be more resilient to variations and shocks has been put high on policy and project agendas again.

Outlook: CORE will help to collect, learn from and share experiences on how food systems and value chains are kept alive and strengthened under evolving circumstances in the COVID-19 situation across different projects and countries. From these we can draw insights and lessons on how to strengthen resilience of in-country value chains and market systems and address vulnerabilities - thus supporting lead projects and their partners to continue shaping contextualised solutions and responses.

Hygiene, health and safety in agri-chains and agri-business

Challenge: Food systems and value chains need to take responsibility in preventing the rapid spread of COVID-19. In some contexts, the government, private sector and NGOs have experience in supporting this, in others less so.

Outlook: Key actors in food systems/value chains need to take on board hygiene measures and programmes in ways that they have not done before. This to safeguard their operations but also to contribute to keeping the pandemic under control as much as possible. Recent signs in Africa (end July 2020) are worrying and point to the importance of all actors taking responsibility for hygiene measures. The CORE hub will support existing initiatives by developing hygiene/operational health and safety plans tailored to specific ‘nodes’ in the food value chain (for example processors and market/transport places), where solicited, with the ultimate objective of integrating hygiene measures into daily operations.

Digital solutions relevant to COVID-19

Challenge: Reducing physical contact has become a key concern in preventing/lessening the spread of COVID-19. With the measures implemented by various governments, there has been a significant increase in interest in digital solutions by key players such as processors, service providers, farmer platforms and governments.

Outlook: Several existing projects have in-depth experience using digital solutions. But this is an area with rapid developments and not easy to navigate for individual projects. The business case for and sustainability of specific platforms and apps is a key concern. The CORE hub will support by increasing the overview of the playing field across the nine projects and distilling key strategies, considerations and promising perspectives in relation to the COVID-19 situation and beyond. Over time, experiences will also be monitored and synthesised and key lessons distilled.

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