RECOVR Roundup Vol. 7: Social Protection in the Time of COVID-19
By Luciana Debenedetti, Jeff Mosenkis, and Rachel Strohm
In this seventh installment—our first one for 2021—of our RECOVR Roundup series, we are sharing new findings and analysis from the RECOVR Research Hub and from our partner organizations, as well as links on what is happening in the Social Protection landscape in response to COVID-19. Read the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth installments if you missed them, and sign up for our mailing list if you'd like to receive this roundup series directly to your inbox.
As always, we encourage you to write to our team with ideas for features.
New Findings & Analysis
Pakistan: Religious leaders can help with COVID safety
For imams already convinced of basic information about the virus, individual engagement helped them give better advice to their congregants on COVID-19 prevention
Researcher Kate Vyborny wondered if religious leaders who are respected in their communities could help share COVID prevention messaging. She found that in Pakistan, a simple call asking imams to share public health guidelines with their congregants helped: the proportion of imams who advised wearing masks increased by 25 percent. The study also found that it wasn’t necessary to appeal to their religiosity; simply pointing to their importance as community leaders was enough. Read more about this study here.
Myanmar: How has agriculture been affected by COVID-19?
MAPSA surveys show anticipated crop revenue fallout and underscore a need for timely assistance
The Feed the Future Myanmar Agriculture Policy Support Activity (MAPSA) partnered with IPA to conduct household surveys on the impacts of COVID-19. Survey results shed light on a difficult situation, though there are pockets of progress: for example, 60 percent of rice mills anticipated revenue drops of at least 30 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, but at the same time 90 percent of communities received cash or non-food assistance from the government in October. Results from the surveys will continue to assist policymakers in assessing the pandemic’s impact and crafting responsive solutions.
What We're Reading & Watching
- For those who’ve been following, economist Ugo Gentilini has been doing weekly updates of the latest in social protection during COVID (you can subscribe by email in the top-right corner of his blog). With the new year, he pauses to reflect and take stock of what we’ve learned so far, particularly on cash transfers. He concludes that whether the pandemic can be a “game changer” for existing social protection gaps depends on addressing mindsets and preferences, sectoral priorities, institutions, delivery mechanisms, financing streams, and politics.
- The World Bank has updated its global poverty estimates again: economists now expect the COVID-19-induced new poor in 2020 to rise to between 119 and 124 million (up from 88 and 115 million from the October estimates).
- Evidence aggregator 3ie launched an evidence map on the increasing use of big data to evaluate development outcomes. At the same time, experts caution that we shouldn’t expect big data to replace traditional surveys “anytime soon.”
- How do cash transfers impact women’s empowerment in Pakistan? A new study in the European Journal of Development Research finds that women’s likelihood of voting and their involvement in household decision-making both increase up to eight years after the end of the program.
- In Vanuatu, the government is using blockchain to securely record the data of new cash transfer beneficiaries, in a digital-first social protection program which Oxfam claims is 75% less expensive than traditional humanitarian cash aid.
- A new study from WIEGO finds that less than half of informal workers in 12 cities around the world received any type of financial support from their governments during the COVID-19 crisis.
- New survey data from UNICEF shows that migrant and displaced children around the world have largely been excluded from pandemic response and recovery.
- More than 34 million people in the Latin America and Caribbean region are unemployed due to COVID-19. Among other recommendations for stimulating job creation, the World Bank calls for rethinking the social protection system in the region, for example, by extending social protections to all people, regardless of their employment status (Note: Article and report links are in Spanish).
Events from the RECOVR Webinar Series
In case you missed it, IPA recently held two webinars exploring the effects of various cash transfer programs and the role of this assistance during the pandemic. Access the recordings below: