COVID-19 has had far-reaching economic impact, producing the deepest global recession in decades and negatively affecting employment, earnings, production, and trade. In April 2020, nearly a third of the global population was on lockdown, limiting the ability to work and transact, both locally and internationally.

To help inform Viamo’s own COVID-19 response and the response of our partners, we teamed up with researchers from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to poll our own 3-2-1 Service callers about their knowledge of the virus and impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods.  The innovation here is eliminating all airtime costs; we ask 3-2-1 Service callers if they would like to participate in the survey as part of their regular toll-free call. To keep the automated voice survey short, staff from Tulane and Viamo developed 12 separate questionnaires, each addressing a specific COVID-related topic (knowledge of COVID-19; attitudes towards the pandemic; preventive behaviors; motivation, impact on food security, income, mental health, etc.). We implemented the surveys in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

The first wave of results, conducted in May 2020 involved over 1,500 respondents for each of the 12 questionnaires. The responses provide crucial data that will help inform our response and the response of our partners. They also demonstrate the value of the 3-2-1 Service to provide rapid, reliable, low-cost data on our callers’ experiences during the pandemic. We present here key findings from Wave 1 on two topic areas: economic impacts and food security. 


Five Key Takeaways on Food Security and Economic Impacts

1) COVID-19 has hit households’ finances significantly. 41% claim minor to major reductions in income across the six countries. The causes are varied; lockdown policies are affecting 34% of respondents, while business operations, restricted work hours, loss of customers and loss of job impact 16% of households.

2) The food security situation is alarming. 28% of the population surveyed had to reduce portion sizes and more than 22% had to skip meals in the last 7 days. This points to nearly a quarter of households surveyed struggling to meet the most basic needs, and likely points to negative consequences in terms of health, education, and well-being.

3) Access to basic supplies such as food and soap is a serious issue. 53% of households report challenges. The main causes appear to be elevated item prices (44%) and item availability (33%), as opposed to lock-down policies (11%) or fear of contagion (12%).

4) The potential impact of lost income is considerable. 32% of respondents indicated that if they were to lose all income they would only have the ability to pay for essentials like food and rent for less than one week. Another 33% indicated that they have less than one month of savings to fall back on. This has important implications for how long a lock-down can be sustained.

5) The majority of households do not have savings for emergencies. 73% indicate that they do not have savings, further revealing the treacherous position faced by households during the pandemic. 

Read the Full Report Here

We want to partner with organizations that are interested in increasing the depth and scale of this data collection exercise, as well as organizations that can help us take action on some of the challenges identified by these surveys. Thank you in advance for your partnership and we look forward to sharing more highlights from the 3-2-1 COVID-19 Survey soon.

Want to explore mobile engagement options for your projects? Get in touch with us and find out how we can expand your reach and impact! 

Viamo has been tracking the COVID-19 impact from our 3-2-1 Service and Targeted Mass Messaging (TMM). Viamo’s flagship product, the 3-2-1 Service, is a free information service available in 18 countries globally. Callers can access pre-recorded audio messages in local languages for free. TMM allows Viamo to reach millions of people, based on their location and demographic user data (gender, age, devices, etc.), through pre-negotiated mass-messaging agreements with local telephone companies. We will be including the impact from our other solutions, including surveys, infolines, and remote training in the near future.

To date, over 14.6 million people have accessed more than 43 million key pieces of COVID-19 information through the 3-2-1 Service and TMM:

Want to hear for yourself? Call +1-650-866-1481 to listen to COVID-19 messages from our Service in Uganda, where English is one of the six available languages.


Viamo’s three pillars of support to our partners for responding to COVID-19 quickly, cost-effectively, and at scale:

Pillar 1: Community Awareness through the 3-2-1 Service, Hotlines and Targeted Mass Messaging (TMM).
Pillar 2: Health System Strengthening through Remote Training, Job Aids, Surveys.
Pillar 3: Child Protection and Learning Support through Remote Learning, Edutainment, and more.


Want to explore mobile engagement options for your COVID-19 response and prevention projects? Get in touch with us and find out how we can expand your reach and impact! 

Click Here to Read More About Viamo’s COVID-19 Response.