In 2019, Uganda imposed Africa’s strictest lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, closing businesses and schools, and banning sales of non-food items at open markets, public gatherings, and the use of vehicles for non-essential purposes. This work builds on two previously implemented RCTs of the Educate! Experience and Skills for Effective Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) program and will shed light on the impacts of COVID-19 on young people in Uganda.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have disproportionately exacerbated the barriers that women, young people, and low-skilled workers face in transitioning into the labor force in Bangladesh. At the same time, the labor market has become increasingly “wired” with the proliferation of more accessible job matching technologies that smooth and equalize the matching process between workers and firms during a time when physical contact is restricted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial challenges for small businesses across Kenya, where some enterprises recorded a drop of as much as 44 percent in revenue in the early months of the pandemic (Egger et al. 2020). Women entrepreneurs may face an especially high burden due to increased childcare responsibilities from school closures.
In low- and middle-income countries, firms owned by women typically have lower profits than those owned by men. COVID-19 has exacerbated this profit gap as women-owned firms tend to be concentrated in sectors where demand has dropped the most, such as services, hospitality, and retail trade. Childcare is an additional constraint for women-led businesses. In one setting, up to 37 percent of female owners bring small children to work, compared to zero men (Delecourt and Fitzpatrick 2021).
The ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh is the main source of formal wage employment for women that constitute a majority of its 4 million workers. The sector has been instrumental in increasing women’s labour force participation in Bangladesh. Demand-side constraints and health concerns introduced by COVID-19 forced factory closures across Dhaka and Chittagong for much of April 2020.
Youth unemployment is a major concern in Bangladesh, where a fifth of the population is between 15 - 24. Forty percent of the population works only a few hours per week in low-paid and hazardous jobs, a majority of the workforce earns less than US$5 a day, and women’s economic participation is hindered by social and cultural barriers. Save the Children’s Skills to Succeed (S2S) program targets youth in the slums of Dhaka who have dropped out of school.
Additional childcare burdens due to COVID-19 school closures may exacerbate gender inequality in labor outcomes if women and young girls have to abandon work or skilling opportunities to provide childcare. This project explores changes in childcare responsibilities (both increases and decreases) as a possible channel through which the COVID-19 crisis has affected women’s labor in Kenya.
- 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.
From April-May 2020, researchers surveyed 7,338 beneficiaries of two government safety-net transfer programs in Bangladesh – the Old Age Allowance and the Widow Allowance – supported under the Department of Social Services.
- Beneficiaries of these programs suffered significantly during the COVID-19 induced mobility restrictions, with 51% of respondents forced to reduce medication consumption and 22% forced to reduce food consumption (based on a one-week recall period of the rapid phone survey).
- The median household reported having earned zero income in the two weeks prior to the survey. While the timely payment of benefits is crucial during crises of such scale, 41% of beneficiaries reported not being paid the full benefit amount, despite such payments being due before the COVID lockdown.
- The study's estimates also demonstrate that those who had access to digital safety-net payments were more likely to receive transfers timely and suffered lower consumption and income vulnerability.
- These findings highlight the importance of regular and timely disbursement of safety-net payments, to promote food security and basic consumption for vulnerable populations. Widespread adoption of digital financial services, such as mobile money, could work as a viable platform to ensure that payments are transferred on time to safety-net beneficiaries.
Governments and educational organizations worldwide are trying to quickly adapt to the unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic, by developing or scaling up distance education modalities to continue delivering educational content to students and maintain students’ connection to formal education. However, the effectiveness of these tools is largely unknown.
The overall objective of LwC-Africa is to generate new evidence and policy guidelines on how African citizens respond to and cope with the profound global shock to their lives and livelihoods caused by COVID-19.
Mitigating Gender-Based Violence (GBV) risk associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and response has been identified as a priority by programmers and practitioners. There is risk of increased Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Myanmar linked to the pandemic, but there remain evidence gaps on how best to mitigate GBV risk within the context of COVID-19.
In order to understand the real-time impact of the pandemic on vulnerable households in Bangladesh, Innovations for Poverty Action, in partnership with the Underprivileged Children’s Education Programme (UCEP), conducted a two-round survey across Bangladesh in July and December 2020, to provide a detailed look into households’ well-being at two distinct points in the pandemic.
- Already vulnerable households have faced significant economic hardships due to the pandemic, which has also jeopardized food security. These changes have been accompanied by changes in women’s decision-making power and increased their reported incidence of intimate partner violence.
- By December 2020, economic insecurity has lessened but negative mental health impacts on mothers persist.
- Most children (71%) are continuing educational activities in some way. Few watch government-provided lessons, and fewer use online resources. Instead, those that can, rely on the help of family members, neighbors, and paid tutors.
- This persistent negative economic impact highlights the need for continued assistance for vulnerable households, which may also have cross-cutting benefits on other dimensions of household wellbeing.
- Continued economic hardship may also pose a challenge for the return to in-person schooling. Additionally, the wide variation in educational supports available to students suggests that policymakers should anticipate substantial variation in the distribution of learning losses, when developing outreach efforts or remedial programs.
- The pandemic appears to have harmed women’s mental health and increased intimate partner violence, which makes the need for strengthening systems to support women’s mental health and reduce intimate partner violence even more pressing.
This study uses a cluster-level randomized controlled trial to evaluate the causal impact of the VEA program across 332 rural villages. VEA is a national community-led water, sanitation, and hygeine program in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although VEA has been operational since 2008, the study focused on more recent activities; as the program was implemented in these villages in the later phase of the program (throughout 2019).
The nationwide lockdown announced by the Indian government on March 24, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 has had a tremendous effect on the Indian economy. Labor migrants are among the most affected: usually employed in informal, low-paid jobs, they are now without work, with no social protection, no assistance from previous employers, and no network to fall back to in their 'host’ states.
- Almost half (45 percent) of the respondents who resided outside of their home state in the pre-lockdown period had returned to their home state.
- 32 percent of the respondents who had a salaried job in the pre-lockdown period had lost their jobs. Of those still employed, 37 percent were on leave, mostly unpaid.
- 30 percent of the migrants who were still employed received support from their employers and a few withdrew money from their Provident Fund (social security) account.
- 51 percent of migrants received government assistance, mainly food supplies. The Aapda program of the Bihar government (the state's disaster compensation scheme) reached 61 percent of migrants.
- 31 percent of the interstate migrants did not receive any support from any source. As a result, 31 percent reported that their daily food intake was less than usual.
- At the time of surveying, the respondents reported higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of life satisfaction than in the pre-lockdown period.
- Among the migrants who returned home, 68 percent of male migrants wanted to re-migrate, but only 37 percent of female migrants did.
In India, COVID-19 and the resulting national lockdown has led to a public health and economic crisis. Safe behaviors such as frequent handwashing and physical distancing are an important means for stopping the transmission of the virus. In response to the pandemic-induced economic shock to households, the Government of India and state governments in the country have announced various social protection schemes to help poor households withstand the adverse effects of the lockdown.
Using administrative data of visitors to Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics (primary health care centers), researchers conducted surveys with around 1,200 residents of Delhi every 7-10 days. The questionnaire was brief and focused on food and income security, awareness of and access to government relief schemes as well as knowledge of public health directives.
Given the particular vulnerability of elderly populations in the pandemic, due to both heightened health risks and lockdown-induced isolation, an initiative to collect COVID-19 related data grew within the Tamil Nadu Aging Panel Survey being conducted under the institutional partnershipbetween J-PAL South Asia and the Government of Tamil Nadu to study the long-term well-being of elderly individuals.
- Social Protection: The Government of Tamil Nadu launched two schemes for ration card-holders in the state: (1) Free rations from April to July, doubling the rice entitlement; (2) A cash transfer of Rs.1000 (about USD 14) per ration card for April and May The schemes reached most, although not all intended recipients.
- Food security and nutrition: At the start of the lockdown in March 2020, the elderly faced sizeable health and food-security challenges: nearly 50 percent of respondents reported not having enough resources for food in the next week. In subsequent survey rounds, it was found that the number of elderly unable to buy medicine or see a doctor since April had fallen. Food insecurity, however, had risen and was high particularly among the elderly living alone.
- Health knowledge and awareness: During the April phone surveys, 1.4 percent of the elderly reported having COVID-19 symptoms. Of the elderly reporting symptoms, nearly 80 percent did nothing or self-medicated. No respondent reported calling the government helpline in April; only 0.1 percent reported having called the government helpline in July. Awareness of COVID-19 spread, symptoms, and precautions was moderate in April. In July, awareness had grown among the elderly living alone, presumably as information percolates through networks.
- Mental health and well-being:
- Social connection: At the beginning of the lockdown, social interaction was low for the elderly, both in-person and remote. In April, the elderly who were living alone were less likely to have regular phone calls. By July, both regular in-person visits and calls had picked up moderately for the elderly living alone and elderly living with others.
- Loneliness and depression: In April, the elderly living alone were about twice as likely to indicate feelings of loneliness and depression than those living with others in their households. These indicators reflect lower loneliness and depression than those at the baseline survey. This may be due to the nature of the COVID survey (shorter and via the phone), which is less conducive to building a rapport between surveyors and respondents. As the lockdown progressed, all elderly (those living alone and those living with others) became far more likely to express feelings of loneliness and depression. This was especially true for the elderly living alone, 32 percent of whom reported often feeling lonely when asked in July.