National Income Dynamic Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM)

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​In 2020, COVID-19 changed everything, both at a global scale and for individual households. Professor Leila Patel is one of more than 30 academics involved in the ongoing National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM). This broadly nationally-representative panel survey kicked off in early 2020 as South Africa implemented a hard lockdown; five waves of the study are planned, with data from the third wave due for release on 17 February 2021.

The same people are contacted every few months and asked a range of questions on their income and employment, their household welfare, receipt of grants, and about their knowledge and behaviour related to COVID-19. Each participant receives a R20 airtime voucher per wave for participating. The aim is to provide periodic, nationally-representative data on key outcomes such as unemployment, household income, child hunger and access to government grants.

Prof Patel’s contributions to NIDS-CRAM concentrated on household resource flows and food poverty during the lockdown (Wave 1) and hunger more broadly (Wave 2). She worked with Professor Servaas van der Berg, Dr Gabrielle Wills and Bokang Mpeta, all of Stellenbosch University. Their research found that many of the improvements related to hunger and food security recorded in South Africa between 2000 and 2018 were almost entirely reversed by the lockdown and the pandemic. Those improvements, as research has repeatedly highlighted, were largely driven by the expansion of the child support grant. The Wave 3 survey, authored by Van der Berg, Patel and Bridgman, conducted in November 2020, found that hunger – especially child hunger – worsened.