Abstract: Federal and state governments in developing countries have tasked local governments with managing COVID-19 on the ground. The bottom-up approach is critical to ensuring household food security, especially in rural areas. We have utilized data from a panel of Indian households that participated in two rounds of a livelihoods survey. While the first round was fielded before COVID-19, the second round was conducted telephonically after the COVID-19-lockdown. We developed an Information Management Response Index (IMRI) to measure the strength of local governments’ information management initiatives. The difference-in-difference estimates show that local governments could partially mitigate the pandemic’s adverse effects on
(a) level and distribution (adult-equivalent per-capita) of food and nutrition expenditure and
(b) household vulnerability to food and nutrition poverty.
For landless households, IMRI led to statistically significant and additional welfare effects. Three channels explain our empirical findings: (a) Maintenance of essential commodities through fair-price shops,
(b) Access to paid employment and cash (income effect), and
(c) Disease management (substitution effect). The estimates have been adjusted for sample attrition and multiple-hypothesis correction. We conducted robustness checks with respect to index construction, instrumental variable estimation, and sub-group analysis