Tackling COVID-19 and Food Security Challenges

Tackling COVID-19 and Food Security Challenges

Thank you to those who have been helping us find our niche in making a difference as the world is changing so much. Here is what we’ve been up to recently, together with some opportunities to give and receive support for those who are interested.

1) We’ve had a number of collaborations in development in Ceará, Brazil. While our potential partners have put a lot of their work on hold for now, our team member Max is working with the state government to develop protocols for regulating economic activities based on coronavirus caseloads and the challenges low-income residents are facing. (Food security and maintaining social distancing are huge challenges, particularly in Fortaleza.) If you are doing similar work and would like to connect or share information, I would be happy to introduce you.

2) We’ve been doing behind-the-scenes research supporting policy development in Cambridge, including leveraging SNAP benefits and opportunities to safely use them. It’s involved synthesizing existing research and local impacts, and putting the information together in ways useful for policy development. If you are, or know, a policymaker who would like some back-end support for immediate work, please let us know and we’ll do our best to support. (We’re currently at capacity but working to increase it!)

3) True to our core mission, we have been tracking the confluence of major global events and their potential for humanitarian crisis and conflict. These events include the simultaneous COVID-19 pandemic, locust outbreak in the MENA region, and collapse of oil prices impacting oil-export + food-import dependent low-income countries. So far, it appears that with famine looming and efforts to combat the locust outbreak struggling but in process, the best way we can make a difference is by preparing for what comes next. We have the ability to study how people are being impacted, predict where migrants and refugees may move, and support planning for farming communities and preparation at migrants’ intermediate destinations. Our plan is to leverage existing work by the UNFAO and Gro Intelligence, together with our own analysis, to support a few policymakers who want to take action but need more information for planning. We are in the outreach process and expect to have more specifics on project scope available soon. In the meantime, if you know policymakers in impacted areas who feel this work could be helpful to them, we would appreciate the opportunity to connect with them.

4) We are working to support our local student community by providing as many paid summer opportunities as possible. We are doing this by leveraging creative funding strategies, including creating work study positions and helping students develop proposals for university research funding. If you are, or know, a professor who would like to support related research opportunities by serving as a summer PI, please let us know! If you are a student in need of a summer job, we’d be excited to work with you!

5) Related to our creation of summer opportunities, we are seeking student advisers / mentors who would be available to share their skills for an hour once every week or two in any of the following areas: Fundraising / capacity building; partnerships development; communications / writing / media; policy analysis with local context knowledge; data engineering; and geospatial data analysis. If you are looking for a social, high impact, low time commitment volunteer opportunity this summer, we would love to have you and can introduce you to our students starting in mid-May.

6) Lastly, we are trying hard to create permanent coordination capacity for this work, particularly to facilitate the development of ongoing research collaborations that could multiply our impact. ($20k would fund all of these projects over through August, including supporting a team of 10-15 people, and allow us to create permanent coordination capacity at the same time.) If you know of individual funders or programs who might be interested in supporting our work, we would deeply appreciate a warm introduction.

Thank you again to our supporters! Many extraordinary people have come together to make a difference, and each day we work together brings excitement and hope for the future.

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