Developing a Locally Rooted Approach to Covid-19 Response








In March 2020, Zambia and Malawi reported their first cases of Covid-19, with both governments restricting non-essential travel, banning large public gatherings, and establishing emergency committees to spearhead efforts to contain the pandemic at a national level. GLD implemented a study in 2020 in both Malawi and Zambia to generate a better understanding of citizens' responses to such measures, and the impact of the pandemic on their individual lives and communities. In order to generate as complete a picture as possible of the local situations over time, we conducted three survey rounds in Malawi and two rounds in Zambia. These rounds provided a total of 17,643 observations, gathering information on issues including knowledge of Covid-19; attitudes and fears surrounding health and economic impacts; social, economic, and health vulnerabilities; social distancing practices and other preventative measures. Particular attention was paid to the local variation in concerns over the social stigma, levels of enforcement, and engagement of different authorities.  

This study has two primary objectives:

1) To generate information and actionable insights for government officials, CSOs, donors, other stakeholders and the public

2) To provide insights for academics and practitioners concerned with understanding the relationships between individual, household, and community vulnerabilities and resilience in the face of crises.


Final report now available: Fears, Vulnerabilities, and Precautions over Covid-19: A Report on Citizen's Experience in Malawi and Zambia. 

Reports on Zambia  

Reports on Malawi


Ellen Lust, Boniface Dulani, Wezi Msisha and Henry Chingaipe. "Insights for Malawi's New Government from the First GLD-IPOR Covid-19 Survey." GLD-IPOR Webinar, July 8 2020. Watch the full webinar.

Ellen Lust, Marja Hinfelaar, and Caesar Cheelo. "From Research to Action in Zambia: Insights on Vulnerabilities and Economic Impact from the GLD-SAIPAR Covid-19 Survey." GLD-SAIPAR-ZIPAR Webinar, October 7 2020. Watch the full webinar.

Ellen Lust, Marja Hinfelaar, Virginia (Ginny) Bond, and Musonda Simwinga. "From Research to Action in Zambia: Insights on Health and Stigma from the GLD-SAIPAR Covid-19 Survey." GLD-SAIPAR-Zambart Webinar, November 4 2020. Watch the full webinar. 



Lust, Ellen (PI); Dulani, Boniface; Harris, Adam; Ferree, Karen; Kao, Kristen; Metheney, Erica. 2020. The First GLD-IPOR Covid-19 Survey in MalawiSampling Details

Our materials are also available in the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) COVID-19 Survey ArchiveCOVID-19 Survey Summary: June 12, 2020.



Dulani, Boniface; Harris, Adam; Lust, Ellen; Ferree, Karen E.; Kao, Kristen; Jansson, Cecilia Ahsan; and Metheney, Erica Ann. "Elections in the Time of Covid-19: The Triple Crises Around Malawi’s 2020 Presidential Elections," Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties. Read.

Ferree, Karen E.; Harris, Adam; Dulani, Boniface; Lust, Ellen; Kao, Kristen; and Metheney, Erica. (2021). “Stigma, Trust, and Procedural Integrity: Covid-19 Testing in Malawi,” World Development. Find it here.

Kao, Kristen; Lust, Ellen; Dulani, Boniface; Ferree, Karen E.; Harris, Adam; and Metheney, Erica. (2020). “The ABCs of Covid-19 Prevention in Malawi: Authority, Benefits, and Costs of Compliance,” World Development. Find it here.

Metheney, E. & Lust, E. (2023). "GLD-SAIPAR Covid-19 Survey in Zambia Dataset." Data in Brief. DOI: PENDING


Related Publications

Chirwa, Gowokani Chijere, Boniface Dulani, Lonjezo Sithole, Joseph Chunga, Witness Alfonso, and John Tengatenga. (2021). "Malawi at the Crossroads: Does the Fear of Contracting COVID-19 Affect the Propensity to Vote?" European Journal of Development Research. Read.

Dionne, Kim Yi, Boniface Dulani, and Sarah Fischer. (2021). “Pandemic Amidst Political Crisis: Malawi's Experience with and Response to COVID-19." in Coronavirus Politics: The Comparative Politics and Policy of COVID-19, Greer, S.L., King, E.J., Peralta-Santos, A., and da Fonseca, E.M. (eds.). Michigan/USA: University of Michigan Press. Read.



Boniface Dulani, Panellist in Live Radio Panel Discussion "Covid-19 and the fresh presidential elections," Zodiak Radio, 11 June 2020. Listen

Boniface Dulani, "AD HOC Meeting for the Development of Covid-19 Policy Recommendations," The Research Department in the Ministry of Health, Malawi, 23-24 September. 

Ellen Lust, "COVID-19: Impact on Urban Poor - Social, Economic, and Public Health Impacts," TIFA Research, Kenya, October 29 2020. Watch the full webinar.

Ellen Lust, "Covid-19 and Elections," co-presented with Erica Metheney, Boniface Dulani, Cecilia Ahsan Jansson, and Kristen Kao, GLD Spring Workshop Series, February 4.

Karen E. Ferree, “Disease Threat, Stereotypes and Covid-19: An Early View from Malawi and Zambia,” (co-authored with Ellen Lust, Adam Harris, Boniface Dulani, Kristen Kao, Cecilia Ahsan Jansson, and Erica Metheney), GLD Spring Workshop Series, April 29.

Reporting on the Project:










International News:

Al-Fazl 2020. "Covi-19-Bulletin"/"Africa." Al-FazlAhmadiyya Muslim Community, UK, No.65, 1 June. Read Article (English).

BBC News 2020. "Most Malawians 'more scared of hunger than Covid-19.'" BBC News, UK, 1 June. Read Article

BBC News 2020. "Malawi has no coronavirus - ex-President Banda.'" BBC News, UK, 10 June. Read Article

Chinese Headline New Media 2020. "Over 80% of Malawians fear hunger more than Covid-19, study shows." Chinese Headline New Media, China3 June. Read Article

EurekAlert! 2020. "Difficult to Implement National Corona Restrictions in Malawi." American Association for the Advancement of Science, 12 November. Read Article.

Expertanswer 2020. "Difficult to Implement National Corona Restrictions in Malawi." Pressrelease in Expertanswer, 12 November. Read Article

Ground News 2020. "Difficult to Implement National Corona Restrictions in Malawi." Ground News, 13 November. Read Article.

Hierro, Lola 2020. "More afraid of hunger in Malawi." The Union Journal, USA, 1 June. Read Article

Hierro, Lola 2020. "Más miedo al hambre en Malawi." Una Boda Como la Tuya, Spain, 1 June. Read Article

Hierro, Lola 2020. "Más miedo al hambre en Malawi." Listinsemanal, Spain, 1 June. Read Article.

Hierro, Lola 2020. "El coronavirus en África | El continente supera los 250.000 positivos." La Neta Neta, Spain, 1 June. Read Article

Masina, Lameck 2020. "Malawi COVID-19 Cases Rise as Citizens Return from South Africa." Voice of America, USA, 2 June. Read Article.

Medical Xpress 2020. "Difficult to Implement National Corona Restrictions in Malawi." Science X, 12 November. Read Article.

News Break 2020. "Difficult to Implement National Corona Restrictions in Malawi." News Break, 12 November. Read Article.

Regnum 2020. "Жители Малави больше боятся голода, чем коронавируса – опрос." Regnum, 2 June, Russia. Read Article (Russian). 


Regional News: 

Adriaanse, Crispin 2020. "Over 80% of Malawians fear hunger more than Covid-19, study shows." Independent Online (IOL)South Africa, Southern Africa, 2 June. Read Article

Citi Newsroom 2020. "Most Malawians 'more scared of hunger than COIVID-19." Citi Newsroom (CNR), Ghana, West Africa, 1 June. Read Article.

Dzido, Justice 2020. "Most Malawians 'More Scared Of Hunger Than COVID-19'." The Publisher Newspaper, Ghana, West Africa, 2 June. Read Article.

Ghanaweb 2020. "Most Malawians 'more scared of hunger than coronavirus'." Ghanaweb, Ghana, West Africa, 1 June. Read Article.

HyperCitigh 2020. "Most Malawians ‘fear hunger than Covid-19’, survey shows." HyperCitigh, Ghana, West Africa. Read Article.

Larnyoh, Magdalene Teiko 2020. "Survey shows that most Malawians fear hunger than COVID-19." PulseLive, Kenya, East Africa, 3 June. Read Article

Leaders of Africa 2020. "Conducting Survey Research in the COVID-19 Era." Leaders of Africa, 6 June. Read Article.

URRDC 2020. "Malawians Most Trust Health Professionals to Address Covid-19 Crisis, Wary It Becomes a Political Football." Ubuntu Research and Rural Development Company Ltd. Read Article.

Writer, Staff 2020. "Most Malawians 'fear hunger than Covid-19', survey shows." Africa Feeds, Ghana, West Africa, 1 June. Read Article


National News:  

Biz Malawi 2020. "81% OF MW ISN’T AFRAID OF COVID-19." Biz Malawi Online, Malawi. Read Article

Moyo, Judith 2020. "Joyce Banda says 'there is no Covid-19 in Malawi.' Nyasa Times, Malawi, 10 June. Read Article

Muheya, Green 2020. "Survey shows Malawians don't fear Covid-19 as much as hunger, healthcare collapse." Nyasa Times, Malawi, 1 June. Read Article

Mwale, Joseph 2020. "Study assesses attitudes to Covid-19 measures." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 18 September. Read Article. 

Mzale, Dumbani 2020. "81% DON'T FEAR COVID-19 - SURVEY." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 1 June. Read Article

The Nation 2020. "Covid-19: Fears." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 8 July. Read Article.

The Nation 2020. "Covid-19: Social Reactions." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 8 July. Read Article.

The Nation 2020. "Covid-19: Trust in Authorities." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 8 July. Read Article.

The Nation 2020. "Covid-19: Vulnerabilities." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 8 July. Read Article.

The Nation 2020. "Covid-19: Economic Impact." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 8 July. Read Article.

The Nation 2020. "Covid-19: Response to Illness." The Nation Malawi (NPL), Malawi, 8 July. Read Article.

The Civil Society Newsletter 2020. "Covid-19 community restrictions." The Zambian Governance Foundation, Zambia, October. 

Zodiak Radio. Covid-19 and the fresh presidential elections. Live Radio Panel Discussion, 11 June, 2020. Listen


Swedish News: 2020. "Svårt att genomföra nationella corona-restriktioner i låginkomstländer som Malawi." (Nyhet från GU), Sweden, 27 October. Read Article.

University of Gothenburg 2020. "Svårt att genomföra nationella corona-restriktioner i låginkomstländer som Malawi." University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 27 October. Read Article

University of Gothenburg 2021. Interview with Boniface Dulani, "Collaboration between GLD and IPOR." University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 21 April. Read Article




This project is supported by the Swedish Research Council Recruitment Grant (Swedish Research Council – E0003801), PI: Pam Fredman; Social Institutions and Governance: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa grant (Swedish Research Council – 2016-01687), PI: Ellen Lust; The Governance Challenge of Urbanization grant (FORMAS – 2016-00228), PI: Ellen Lust.





Project Funders