In this project, the researchers conduct high-frequency phone surveys on a panel of women who work in garment factories in Ethiopia’s largest industrial park in the city of Hawassa to document how their lives are changing during the COVID-19 crisis. Sampling from an administrative database of all workers in the Hawassa Industrial Park, the researchers aim to collect data on a representative sample of 5,000 workers. Respondents will be interviewed on a bi-weekly basis for a duration of six months. Studied outcomes include socioeconomic status, employment, mental and physical health, health behaviors, empowerment, trust, and economic preferences. The researchers plan to investigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis for this sample of women, and the interaction between health behaviors, trust in government, and economic preferences. They also hope to inform the government’s response and development partner programming by rapidly reporting key areas of vulnerability and their predictors.

Program Area:
Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis
April-November 2020
Implemented by IPA:
Impact Goals:
Build resilient and adaptable businesses and employment opportunities; Improve social-safety net responses; Improve women’s health, safety, and economic empowerment
Outcomes of Interest:
basic demographics, current and past employment, other economic activity, income, savings, physical and mental health, health behaviors, social networks, relationship status, marriage and fertility choices, aspirations, first- and second-order beliefs about COVID-19, trust in government, perceived needs in the community, and economic preferences
Data Collection Mode:
CATI (Computer-assisted telephone interviewing)
External Website:
Results Status:
Key Findings:
  • 56 percent of respondents are still working and 24 percent are on paid leave. Of those working, 42 percent are working the same number of hours.
  • Of those who are not currently working, almost no one has found another form of employment, despite the fact that many are looking for other livelihood opportunities. Many of those that are not looking are waiting to be recalled to Hawassa Industrial Park or are too worried about COVID-19. 81 percent of those not employed anymore would like to return to their jobs.
  • There has been a significant amount of migration away Hawassa by those that are not currently working in Hawassa Industrial Park. At the same time, respondents prefer being in Hawassa over being in a rural area: Out of those that have left to rural areas, 43 percent report being where they want to be, compared to 76 percent of those currently in Hawassa. High cost stops many from migrating.
  • Overall levels of food insecurity are high with 40 to 60 percent of respondents saying they have worried they do not have enough food in the last seven days. Rates are higher for those currently in Hawassa.
  • Workers are well informed about COVID-19 and false beliefs or myths appear to be extremely uncommon. Only 2 percent of respondents believe that spiritual beliefs can help with COVID-19, only 1 percent believes that traditional medicine can act as a cure.