The project aims to answer pressing questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives and firms' behavior in the Middle East and North Africa, and shed light on coping mechanisms and policy responses. The Economic Research Forum (ERF) is conducting a series of short panel phone surveys (the COVID-19 MENA Monitor) to monitor the effect of the crisis on households, workers, and micro and small enterprises. The short phone survey includes an economic impact questionnaire, with a household module as well as worker, enterprise, and farmer impact modules. The multiple waves (every two months) of interviews with the same respondents will allow researchers to accurately assess changes over time in this rapidly developing crisis.
- Due to Covid-19, wage workers in Morocco and Tunisia have lost jobs, been temporarily laid off, and experienced reduced hours, lower wages and delays in pay.
- The impact has been minimal for public sector workers, but substantial in the private sector, especially for informal and irregular workers. Farmers, the self-employed and employers have experienced particularly sharp decreases in their revenues.
- Although some workers and families are receiving government support, many are falling through a sparse safety net and experiencing large income decreases. Additional social protection and better targeting will be needed to cushion the impacts of the pandemic.
- Between November 2020 and February 2021, there were some improvements in labour force participation and employment in Morocco and Tunisia, as well as falls in unemployment. Wage workers in all four countries have experienced layoffs, and reduced hours and earnings, particularly in the informal sector.
- Although the majority of employers and the self-employed report that their businesses are open and operating, hours are reduced and most report lower revenues compared with 2019. Half of households report that their income has decreased; in most countries, the poor have experienced the largest income losses.
- In most countries, social protection measures have reached only a small fraction of the population, a declining share from November 2020 to February 2021, and social protection systems remain poorly targeted.