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.
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.
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.
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.
India’s COVID-19 lockdown is widely believed to have disrupted critical health services, but its effect on non-COVID health outcomes is largely unknown. Comparing mortality trends among dialysis patients in the eight months around the lockdown with the previous year, researchers document a 64 percent increase in mortality between March and May 2020 and an estimated 22-25 percent total excess mortality between April and July 2020, the first four months after the lockdown was imposed.
- 63 percent of patients experienced a disruption to their dialysis care due to the lockdown. 42 percent of patients reported being unable to reach their hospitals due to travel barriers, 15 percent found the hospital was closed or refused to provide care, 23 percent had to switch to a different hospital from the one they typically visit, 17 percent could not obtain necessary medicines, and 11 percent faced increased hospital charges. Monthly dialysis visits decreased by 6 percent between March and April.
- Monthly mortality (the share of people alive who die in a month) increased sharply from 2.67 percent in March to 4.37 percent in May (a 64 percent jump) after a month of exposure to the lockdown and 3.23 percent in June, after which it returned to pre-lockdown levels. Overall, total excess mortality among dialysis patients between April and July 2020 was 22-25 percent.
- Disruptions to care are strongly positively associated with morbidity, hospitalization, and mortality after the imposition of the lockdown, providing strong evidence that increased mortality was driven by disruptions to dialysis care. The surge in mortality was not driven by confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
- Women and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups experienced larger increases in mortality. Disadvantaged socioeconomic groups and those living farther away from a hospital were more likely to experience disruptions to their care, which may explain their worse outcomes. Women experienced similar levels of disruptions and morbidity to men, but were less likely to be hospitalized following disruptions, which may have contributed to their higher mortality.
The Feed the Future Myanmar Agriculture Policy Support Activity (MAPSA) is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded activity, led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in partnership with Michigan State University (MSU), that seeks to improve governance in the agricultural sector in Myanmar. MAPSA partnered with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to conduct six rounds of Rural-Urban Food Security Survey (RUFSS).
- COVID-19 has had strong negative impacts on income-based poverty among both rural and urban households. Losses of jobs or other income have been the main impacts.
- Twenty percent of respondents reported their household earned no income in June.
- USD 1.90/day poverty in the sample increased by 27 percentage points from January to June.
- Falling into poverty was strongly associated with loss of employment and recent childbirth.
- The poor frequently coped with income losses through loans or other credit, although between 15 and 20 percent of households also reduced their food expenditures.
- Self-reported food insecurity experiences and inadequate dietary diversity among mothers were much more common in the urban sample, despite the rural sample being poorer.
- In urban areas, one-quarter of respondents were worried about food quantity and quality, and one-third had inadequate diets.
- Self-reported losses of income and jobs were strong predictors of food insecurity and inadequately diverse diets.
- Mothers who had given birth in the past month had much less diverse diets than pregnant women.
The Feed the Future Myanmar Agriculture Policy Support Activity (MAPSA) is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded activity, led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in partnership with Michigan State University (MSU), that seeks to improve governance in the agricultural sector in Myanmar.
- COVID-19 prevention measures are at their highest level since June. Almost all COVID-19 prevention measures have been applied in a larger share of communities than in any of the previous survey rounds. In nearly all communities, respondents reported restrictions on gatherings, such as weddings or other social activities, and mandates on wearing face masks outside the home. Many communities also implemented measures that interfere with employment and income generating activities; 70 percent of communities reported that residents cannot leave the village/ward for work or trade and 76 percent reported that food vendors and traders are not allowed to enter the village.
- Community respondents perceive a quarter of households to be extremely poor. Respondents to the October round of the survey reported that on average 25 percent of households in their communities are extremely poor, which is similar to levels reported in September (27 percent), but much higher than was reported in the June/July (17 percent) and August (11 percent) rounds. Reduced income due to less work or lower wages for non-farm workers and less income from non-farm businesses are mentioned as the primary reasons for the high prevalence of extremely poor households in the most recent round.
- Cash-based assistance reaches 90 percent of communities. In June/July, government assistance came mostly in the form of food, but since August has changed to predominantly non-food assistance. Twenty percent of communities reported receiving non-food assistance in June/July. Respondents reported in October that on average 90 percent of communities received cash or non-food assistance from the government, a level similar to that reported in September.
- Agricultural production and marketing, particularly sales of agricultural commodities, continues to face challenges. One-third of the surveyed communities reported that the production of farmers in their community were lower than normal in October and September, compared with 48 percent of communities in June/July and 42 percent in August. Communities reported that bad weather and pests were the reasons for lower production. In October, 48 percent of communities also reported disruptions to agricultural sales, mainly due to closures of town/city markets, low output prices, insufficient traders or brokers, and other COVID-19 related mobility restrictions. This is the highest share of communities reporting disruptions since the start of the telephone survey in June/July.
- Barriers to healthcare facility access and delays to healthcare seeking. Respondents from 11 percent of communities reported being unable to visit healthcare facilities when they wanted to, and respondents from 25 percent of communities reported postponing visits to healthcare professionals out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, 19 percent of respondents mentioned knowing people in their community who had felt ill and would normally have visited a healthcare provider but chose not to do so due to fear of being suspected of carrying COVID-19. Fortunately, fewer villages reported medication scarcity than was the case in the June/July survey round.
- Strikingly, 60 percent of mills are anticipating a revenue drop of at least 30 percent this year compared to 2019. Only 3 percent of mills are expecting an increase in revenue.
- Just over half of the mills interviewed experienced disruptions in selling milled rice and in buying paddy. However, those impacts have lessened considerably, as only 15 percent of millers reported experiencing those disruptions in the past 30 days.
- Almost all mills regarded byproduct sales as important to their business. Roughly half reported no changes in byproduct prices compared to 2019, but one-quarter reported price increases, while the other quarter reported decreases. Mills from Ayeyarwady have been more negatively impacted by lower byproduct prices than elsewhere.
- For most mills, both paddy purchase and rice sales prices are now slightly higher than the 2019 average. Interestingly, prices increased more for low-quality varieties than for high-quality varieties. Margins for low-quality varieties have increased relative to 2019, while they have decreased for high-quality varieties. Thus, mills producing larger quantities of high-quality rice now may be adversely affected by lower margins.
- 44 percent of rice millers reported challenges buying paddy and 26 percent reported disruptions to rice sales. With the timing of the survey in August, these challenges are unlikely to have been driven by the transportation restrictions that were a challenge earlier in the monsoon season.
- 71 percent of rice mills were using some safety measures, but adoption of social distancing was near zero and use of face coverings decreased 19 percentage points from July.
- 46 percent of mills reported lower daily throughput compared to the same time in 2019. The median decrease among those reporting lower throughput was 30 percent.
- Milling margins increased on average in the August survey compared to July.
- 38 percent of mills applied for new loans in the thirty days prior to interview. However, just 57 percent of those who applied were successful.
This study, led by the Asociacion Profamilia, includes the answers to an online nonprobabilistic survey (Solidarity II) carried out between April 16 and 25 and September 2020 (n=1735). It aims to estimate the changes in behavior and immediate expectations at the end of the quarantine period and compares its results with a survey performed at the beginning of the lockdown (Solidarity I).
- Among the most common concerns are that a vaccine or treatment against the coronavirus will not arrive soon in Colombia (79%), that a vaccine or treatment will not be developed soon (79%), and that when the vaccine arrives in Colombia it will not be accessible (74%). 50% think it is likely they will receive the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
- 62% receive information about COVID-19 through social networks, 55% through official websites and 51% through television.
- 43% mention that in their neighborhood, community, group or town they have taken measures or there have been public health/communications campaigns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
- 25% say that they would like to support local communities in responding to the outbreak.
- 82% accept that most children will continue to be educated at home, and 85% believe that parents should choose whether or not to send their children to school in person.
- 95% agree that people should be forced to wear masks outside the home.
- 90% accept that neighborhoods, localities or municipalities experiencing outbreaks should have stricter restrictions than the country at large.
- 86% accept that employees can choose whether they work in the office or do their work from home.
- 44% think that people will be able to get the coronavirus vaccine in a year or year and a half.
- 26% think that life will return to "normal" in two or more years.
This study assessed implications of the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic on household income and food security in two East African countries – Kenya and Uganda, using online survey data from 442 respondents. Results show that more than two-thirds of the respondents experienced income shocks due to the COVID-19 crisis. Food security and dietary quality worsened, as measured by the food insecurity experience scale and the frequency of consumption of nutritionally-rich foods.
- More than two-thirds of households experienced income shocks and worsened food security.
- Food security outcomes were worse among the income poor and households dependent on labour income.
- Labour-dependent and income poor households employed food-based coping strategies.
- Membership in savings groups was more likely to mitigate member’s income shocks than NSSF.
This paper considers whether the COVID-19 stay-at-home order affected crimes targeting women. We use national municipal-level crime data from Mexico’s National Public Security System, which reports sexual crimes, lapses in alimony, domestic violence, and femicides. We track monthly changes in crime using an event-study design. Our results show three main patterns. First, lapses in alimony, sexual crimes, and domestic violence follow a U-shaped trend.
- Lapses in alimony, sexual crimes, and domestic violence follow a U-shaped trend. Each crime declined and then rose back to their pre-COVID levels.
- Femicides, the most violent crime against women, remained constant during the pandemic.
- Femicides declined in municipalities with alcohol sales prohibition.
The study uses administrative data for 35 million private-sector jobs in Mexico to investigate the differences between the Great Lockdown (GL) and the Great Recession (GR). Using an event-study design, researchers observe that the GL produced more loss of employment than the GR. The researchers then document five heterogeneous facts. First, men and women were similarly affected by each crisis.
- Men and women were similarly affected by each crisis.
- Both recessions impacted the youngest workers (15 to 29 years old), but the Great Lockdown also negatively impacted those over 60 years.
- The Great Recession produced more job loss in large companies (over 1000 workers), while the effects of the Great Lockdown were greatest in small and medium-sized companies.
- In both crises, individuals were most affected at the extremes of the income distribution.
- The construction industry was detrimentally affected in both the Great Lockdown and Great Recession. The hospitality-focused service sector was more impacted in the Great Lockdown than the Great Recession.
Twaweza collected data on citizens’ knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) related to Covid-19 through a series of mobile phone surveys of a representative sample of the country’s adult population.
- One out of three of households that depend on casual work (34%) have seen the main breadwinner lose their source of income, compared to one out of four Kenyan households overall (26%). More than half of these households have not found new sources of income.
- 8 out of 10 households (80%) that rely on casual work reporting to hold food stocks of a week or less at home, compared to 6 out of 10 of the population overall (64%).
- Fewer Kenyans now say their income is sufficient to meet their household needs: 1 out of 4 citizens (28%) report having enough income compared to 1 out of 3 in 2018 and 2017.
- 4 out of 10 citizens (39%) say they would spend a hypothetical KES 10,000 gift from government on food. Overall, half of households (52%) report that their current food situation is worse or much worse than in the previous month.
- Almost all citizens are aware of aware of COVID-19, most are very aware of it
- Most citizens are aware of the main modes of transmission and identify public places and gatherings as the most likely places of exposure to the virus
- Some misconceptions about COVID-19 are widely held
- Citizens see older people, children and those with pre-existing conditions as being most at risk
- 6 out of 10 citizens are very worried about the Coronavirus outbreak in Kenya
- Most citizens do not feel at risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus
- Most citizens are aware of some measures the government has taken in response to the outbreak
- Citizens point to handwashing, masks and staying at home as actions they are taking to prevent infection
- 2 out of 3 citizens have confidence in the government’s ability to handle the Coronavirus outbreak
- 4 out of 10 citizens say the money they have currently available to them would only last one day if no movement is allowed
- More than half of citizens agree with the view that many people have resumed business as usual despite the outbreak
- Citizens are more concerned about the economic implications of the Coronavirus than the health effects
- The biggest impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak on Kenyan households have been on income and jobs
- Half of households have seen food price increases in the previous two weeks
- 7 out of 10 households report that their food intake has become worse in the previous month
The objective of the study is to investigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on conventional crime and organized crime in Mexico City, Mexico. Researchers use an event study for the intertemproal variation across the 16 districts (municipalities) in Mexico City for 2019 and 2020, utilizing reported crime data from the Mexico City’s Attorney General’s Office (covering domestic violence, burglary, robbery, vehicle-theft, assault-battery, homicides, kidnapping, and extortion).
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Peruvian Amazon in mid-March and sparked international concern about the well-being of the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of the region. Although the two major urban centers—Iquitos and Pucallpa—received media attention, information about conditions in the many smaller rural communities along the rivers of Loreto and Ucayali regions is scarce.
- According to government data which capture more urbanized communities, COVID-19 spread throughout the region in two waves (i.e., April-June; August). Our data indicate that mortality rates in rural communities were higher in Ucayali than Loreto, which is opposite to what government data suggests. Similarly, mortality rates were higher in campesino communities than indigenous communities, which is contrary to the impression given by media reports on COVID-19, which focus on indigenous peoples only.
- Gatherings may have caused the spread of the virus initially but were later avoided to reduce contagion. School closure was incomplete, and school re-opening may have led to the spread of the virus during the second wave. People adopted standard protective measures, which helped reduce the spread of the virus. Hand washing and use of masks were more common than social distancing measures, and this difference increased in the second wave.
- With limited access to medical services, people relied heavily on traditional medicine. People also relied more on wild resources such as fishing, hunting, and non-timber forest product gathering, both for food and earnings. Cash and food assistance was received, mostly from the government, but health assistance was practically absent. Travel to the city to collect cash assistance provided by the government may have furthered the spread of the virus.
- Policy implications suggested from our findings include the need to: (1) gather data to better inform policies to reduce contagion and impacts, paying attention to differences across communities; (2) improve communication infrastructure and services for rural communities (especially telephone); (3) correct unintended adverse consequences of assistance polices; (4) tackle the social cost of protective measures; and, (5) consider linkages between COVID-19 and wild resource conservation.
The research team has collected data on the impacts of COVID-19 as experienced by customers of social enterprises around the world. This includes customers of off-grid energy companies (thanks to support from GOGLA and the Rockefeller Foundation) and, clients of microfinance institutions (thanks to support from SPTF and their members) and numerous other social enterprises who have agreed to contribute their data anonymously towards this aggregation.
Using data collected through a telephone-based survey in rural Bangladesh during the height of the pandemic, the researchers present evidence on the effects of COVID-19-led lockdown and school closures on children, focusing on three child-related outcomes: time use of children during the school closure, plans regarding children’s schooling continuation, and the incidence of child marriages.
- There was strong pattern of decreased study time at home and increased time on household chores and caring provided to other household members since the beginning of the lockdown. Furthermore, the magnitudes of these changes were significantly larger for girls than for boys.
- They also find important evidence that the marriage timing of girls form part of the households’ coping strategy during the pandemic. Specifically, loss of remittances decreased the probability of marriage while a job loss increased the probability of marriage-related discussions within the household, albeit with no effect on actual marriages and engagements. The effects on marriage timing of adolescent girls and related behaviour are, arguably, unsurprising given that nearly 3 in 5 women in Bangladesh marry before reaching the age of 18 (NIPORT and ICF 2019), and there are substantial transfers and expenses associated with marriage (Amin and Bajracharya 2011).
- The absence of a spike in early marriages during the early stages of the pandemic is consistent with the findings of Corno et al. (2020) who find that, in regions where dowry is practised, droughts lead to a decline in early marriages; as well as with Amirapu et al. (2020) who find a sharp decline in the incidence of marriage, for girls and women aged 15-24 years, during the first two months of the COVID-19 lockdown in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the increase in marriage-related discussions within households that have experienced an adverse economic shock during the pandemic provides an early warning that, in the absence of effective policy responses, the incidence of early marriage may well increase at later stages of the pandemic.
Little is known about the effects of large cash transfers in contexts of protracted displacement. This includes the influence of cash transfers on health behaviors during shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. IDinsight plans to develop evidence in this area by building on an on-going impact evaluation of GiveDirectly’s unconditional cash transfer program in Kiryandongo refugee settlement, Uganda.
- Respondents were well-informed about key COVID-19 symptoms and protective behaviours.
- Most respondents had access to water, soap, and masks to prevent contraction of COVID-19.
- Most households reported experiencing increased food prices, job loss, business closure, or increases in prices of business or farm inputs between March and July 2020. Respondents also reported difficulties in accessing food. During this same time, food prices were elevated and monthly food and cash rations had been decreased.
- Most respondents who needed to access health facilities were able to access them. However, some of the respondents noted challenges such lack of supplies in health facilities and lack of money to afford services or drugs.
- Most households reported being food insecure in July 2020. However, respondents who received USD 1000 unconditional cash transfer prior to the lockdown had marginally stronger food security than households who were randomly chosen to receive their transfers later and have not yet received them.
- Respondents who received USD 1000 unconditional cash transfer prior to the lockdown had higher psychological wellbeing compared to yet-to-receive households. However, most respondents expressed feelings of sadness and fear. These feelings were associated with a lack of resources to provide for their households and fear of contracting COVID-19.
- Respondents reported to have left home 3.2 days a week on average; one-third reported maintaining social distancing each time they left the house. Four-fifths reported wearing masks when out; mask- wearing was 6%-points higher in the treatment group than the control group.
- We did not detect higher food consumption in households with transfers relative to the control group. Overall weekly household consumption is 118.48 USD PPP (with 7 household members on average.)
- Respondents most commonly report burglary and water disputes as key community safety and security concerns. More than half of respondents also felt unsafe to go to the market and to fetch water. The majority of respondents (63%) reported that they had experienced, witnessed or heard of burglary (including theft and muggings) occurring in the settlement in the past seven days.
- Half of the respondents (51%) reported experiencing either quarreling, intimidation, or damaging of personal property among adults in their household while 30% of the households reported experiencing all three dimensions of intra-household conflict in the past seven days.
- Perceived likelihood of contracting COVID-19 and mask wearing stayed steady over time (at 60% and 85% respectively in October 2020). However, recognition of asymptomatic transmission and self- reported social distancing dropped since July 2020, from 47% for both asymptomatic transmission and self-reported social distancing to 33% and 32%, respectively, in October 2020.
- Households that received cash transfers reported being less food insecure compared to households that are yet to receive cash transfers. However, most households across groups reported cutting down the size of meals or skipping meals in the last seven days.
- Overall, respondents had mixed opinions on whether and how alcohol consumption had changed since baseline or since lockdown. More male respondents (28%) reported consuming alcohol in the last month compared to female respondents (16%). There was no statistically significant differences in drinking behavior among treatment and control households.
- Respondents reported that they felt good about inter-refugee and refugee-host relations. Compared to October 2019, refugees reported that inter-refugee and refugee-host relations have improved. However, most respondents noted that overall, the host community treated refugees unfairly with the pricing of goods in markets run by Ugandans.
While only time can tell what the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be on agricultural supply chains and global food systems, the moment to shape our response is now. Through a project that has been generously funded by FCDO’s Research and Evidence Division and MercyCorps AgriFin Accelerator, 60 Decibels will survey 500 Kenyan farmers every month between June 2020 and June 2021 to understand their experiencing of living through the pandemic and the support they will find useful.
- Nine in ten farming households report being worse off due to the pandemic. 26% of farmers have lost at least one source of income compared to the same time last year. While financial stress has increased over time, it appears to have stabilized somewhat since October 2020. Wellbeing improved from 48% ‘much worse’ in December 2020 to 47% in February; ‘slightly worse’ increased from 40% in December 2020 to 44% in February 2021.
- The use of savings and more extreme coping strategies have begun to increase from December 2020 to February 2021 (use of savings: 56% to 71%; sold or pawned asset: 24% to 39%; borrowed money: 32% to 34%), this could be indicative of farmers running out of financial reserves, increasing future financial distress. And while prices of inputs and food have stabilized, the prices farmers receive for crops continues to decrease, putting future earnings at risk.
- 70% say essential inputs like fertilizers and seeds are more expensive than normal. Over 51% purchased less inputs and 51% hired less labour in the last two weeks. Overwhelmingly, the reason for these reductions was cost. Farmers want to sell more but are unable to. 8 out of 10 farmers who sold less because of Covid would like to sell more but are unable. 1 from the other 2 sold less by choice (for example, saving food for their family) and 1 sold less for different reasons.
- Digital means can be further leveraged to support farmers recovery. Despite the potential of digital means, only 36% of farmers increased their use. In fact, 25% decreased their use, primarily because they don’t have funds to pay digital or lacked access to a device. Top support farmers are seeking: affordable inputs, access to market - information, transport, buyers, cash. Leniency in existing and new credit would be a welcome respite too.
- Women were less confident in the next month (30% of females were ‘very confident’ in next month vs. 35% of males), and sold less than male farmers (22% of females sold ‘much less’ produce vs. 19% of males ). When discussing what support they need to increase sales, the top request from women was connection to new buyers (72%) and market information (72%) while men ask for market information (68%). Women asked for cash at a higher proportion than men (44% of females asking for cash vs. 39% of males). Researchers also noted key differences in digital usage, which may affect how female farmers are accessing information and coordinating livelihood activities through digital methods.
- Nine in ten farming households report being worse off due to the pandemic. Financial stress is increasing over time.
- More respondents are reporting a) severe worsening of financial wellbeing - 54% said their situation was ‘much worse’ in September compared to 34% in June, b) loss of income sources - 47% reported losing a source of income in September compared to 31% in June, and c) greater reliance on low risk and stringent coping strategies - use of savings has grown from 59% in June to 80% in September, while the sale of an asset has grown from 11% to 38%.
- Relaxing of national curfew has meant farmers are making fewer adjustments to their core farming activities - hiring labour, purchasing inputs, harvesting and selling produce. In particular, hired labour has improved from 94% of farmers reporting a decrease in June to only 45% in September. The adjustment that has persisted is the sale of produce - 77% of farmers decreased sales in June and 57% continued to make this adjustment in September.
- The majority are optimistic for the short rain season. However, the extent of confidence is waning as the rains approach. Only 23% of farmers are ‘very confident’ that they will be able to undertake farm activities as usual next month, compared to 57% in July.
- Cash remains the top requested support month-on-month as coping strategies get exhausted and financial strife persists. Emergency financial loans could also help farmers cope today and support recovery in the future.
- Access to affordable inputs. 72% say essential inputs are dearer than usual. Farmers are facing a difficult choice: either purchase less inputs and put their harvest at risk, or purchase at the higher price and risk losing money this season. Localized delivery of, and lenient loans for, high quality inputs would help farming households cope with COVID-19 shocks.
- Majority of farmers want to sell more but are unable to. Six in ten farmers sold less produce to cope with COVID-19 but only two actively made the choice to do so. The other four wished they could sell more but did not have the option to do so. Farmers are seeking connection to new buyers, market information and transportation support.
- Digital means are currently underutilized as a support and recovery tool. Despite the potential of digital platforms to provide financial liquidity, increase access to agricultural information, and increase market access, only 36% of farmers (40% women and 32% men) have increased their use of digital products during this pandemic. In fact, 23% decreased their use. Top barriers included farmers not having access to a device, limited trust in digital products, lack of funds to purchase internet/airtime bundles and network-related issues.
Part 1: Aims at generating evidence on how young firms and young workers are coping with the current situation. We target 720 alumni of accredited Vocational Training Institutes (VTIs) in Uganda who graduated 2 to 4 years ago, whom, as of January 2020 were: young entrepreneurs (22%), formal workers (44%) and informal workers (24%) in core manufacturing and service sectors in Uganda (plumbing, welding, carpentry, tailoring, etc.).
- School closures widen pre-existing inequalities in access to schooling. Forced by the school dorms’ closure in late March, the students moved back to their family home. There, many had to adjust to inadequate learning environments: 52% reported having worse access to internet, 39% worse access to power and 52% less space to study and concentrate. These shares are significantly higher among agricultural households, particularly for those who rely on subsistence agriculture as their main source of income.
- School closures likely widen pre-existing gaps in access to labor market opportunities. Since the beginning of the lockdown, over 30% of the students in our sample had worked, mostly for pay and in the sector in which they were being trained while at the VTIs. Even though there emerges no difference between female and male students when it comes to time spent studying as well as contacts with classmates and teachers, less than half as many of the female students as male students were involved in any work activity (18% vs. 40%).
- Shared ad hoc tools to assess learning losses and remedial education. The heterogeneity in learnings material and time devoted to schooling portend heterogenous learnings losses across students. New standardized learning assessment tools would be developed to allow the government to direct resources in a targeted manner to those most in need. Remedial education should be provided to those students who have fallen behind and should be offered at no cost as these students are likely to belong to the poorest households and areas.