CDES COVID-19 projects
The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries
- Professor Asad Islam (CDES), with many external collaborators, including NGOs such as BRAC, GDRI in Bangladesh, IIT Kanpur University in India
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has paralysed the globe over the last few months. The developing countries are going through a different experience where there is not much safety nets to lean against during a prolonged emergency situation. The lockdown and social distancing have resulted in business closure and disruption to informal economic activities bringing the livelihood of millions of people, particularly those in the low-income groups, to a halt.
In India and Bangladesh, we are collecting socioeconomic and public health data to understand:
- compliance with social distancing behavior and other recommended health practices, and
- impacts on their lives and livelihoods due to the prolonged lock-down situation.
This is going to be an ongoing research to follow more than ten thousand households in both countries to understand the evolving issues on the lives and livelihood of the rural population.
Impact of IRI based mobile lessons on educational outcome of primary graders: A randomized controlled trial in rural Bangladesh
- Asad Islam, Principal Investigator & Liang Choon Wang, Co-PI
The rationale of the Intervention
During the current pandemic, the government of Bangladesh provides distant learning through television in place of formal schooling, but only 44% of rural households own a television. On the other hand, 94% of households in rural Bangladesh own a basic cell phone. In the proposed intervention, we take advantage of this high mobile phone penetration in rural Bangladesh to offer pre-recorded interactive radio instruction (IRI)-based lessons to the primary graders via mobile phone and conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate this novel intervention that has not to be implemented and evaluated in Bangladesh.
We will use a toll-free mobile number to deliver free interactive audio lessons to primary graders for 15 weeks. The program contains three modules with each divided into several 20-minute lessons (i.e. a total of 75 lessons). The modules focus on numeracy (40%), literacy (40%) and behavioural training (20%). Behavioural training (BT) covers topics such as self-awareness, responsible decision making, relationship skills, social awareness, self-management, and so on. A total of 1905 children is selected from 90 villages and is randomly assigned any of the three groups. The first group (treatment 1) will receive four literacy and numeracy lessons each week for 15 weeks, the second group (treatment 2) will receive five literacy, numeracy and behavioural skill lessons each week for 15 weeks, and the third group will be the control that receives nothing.
At the end of the program, we will evaluate the impact of this relatively ‘low-tech’ educational service on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills. In particular, this study will examine whether the innovation of disseminating educational materials via a toll-free number can lead to better educational outcomes, especially for underprivileged students in society. We will also investigate heterogeneous effects of school interruption and the proposed intervention on learners, with a special focus on gender and household’s socio-economic status as girls and children from low socio-economic backgrounds are expected to suffer the most from the pandemic.
- EdTech Hub special funding cycle for Covid-19.
Changing Lives and Livelihoods in the Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic in Rural Bihar
A study by the Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) and Institute for Human Development (IHD) This study focuses on the experience of rural households in Bihar during and following the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020. The focus on the first wave is a direct result of the timing of the study which collected data over the months of October 2020 through January 2021. The key idea of the research project was to collect primary data through phone interviews from a sample of households in seven districts of Bihar to provide information on two focus areas:
- (i) the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods, and
- (ii) the extent of government support received by households.
Funding for this project was received from the International Growth Centre (IGC), Project #: IND-20095.
Report prepared by
- Gaurav Datt, Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES), Monash University
- Swati Dutta, Institute for Human Development (IHD)
- Sunil Kumar Mishra, Institute for Human Development (IHD)
- Professor Sisira Jayasuriya is undertaking two projects with his colleagues in Pakistan
(a) COVID-19 and household wellbeing with particular reference to household violence in Pakistan
COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns have imposed many both economic hardships and other domestic stresses. In developing countries, cramped living spaces, extended family living, and entrenched socio-cultural factors aggravate the difficulties of coping with lower incomes, enforced isolation and breakdown of normal social interactions. News reports in both developed and developing countries point to a significant increase in household violence. This project investigates the impact on a small sample of Pakistani households with particular reference to factors contributing to domestic violence and options for alleviating domestic strains, using information gathered from phone interviews and social media.
(b) COVID-19 - impact on agricultural supply chains
COVID-19 restrictions have had a major impact on both agricultural production, trade, distribution and marketing on the one hand and on the consumption of agricultural, particularly food, products. In this project we use social media, networks and phone interviews to investigate the impact on agricultural supply chains in Pakistan, with particular attention to dairy and horticultural products. While the large scale government spending programs to provide safety nets to the population are unlikely to increase general inflation, dislocations to agricultural production and supply chains more broadly have the potential for emergence of serious food shortages and food price inflation with severe effects on household welfare, particularly of the poor.