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Food security and diets in urban Asia: how resilient are food systems in times of COVID-19?

Vulnerable populations in urban areas globally have been among the worst hit by the global COVID-19 crisis. In South and South-East Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased levels of vulnerability and food insecurity in cities through disruptions to food supply chains, increased food prices and loss of income. In 2021, the World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBB) and Dikoda undertook an assessment to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on food systems in eight selected cities in the Asia/Pacific region. This research assesses the resilience and adaptability of urban food systems by exploring external drivers, food supply chains, food environments, individual factors, consumer behaviour and diet outcomes. The report triangulates findings between qualitative research carried out by Dikoda, WFP assessments and external sources to provide regional insights, as well as eight city-specific briefs on local-level impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerabilities. This report presents recommendations for improving policy-response to external shocks specific to urban South and South-East Asian contexts and methodological recommendations for better tracking of vulnerability in urban contexts.