Coronavirus news monitor


Coronavirus news monitor

Meeting the Challenges of Multiple Crises: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic (18.10.2023) In July 2023, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) hosted a series of online learning events which explored and showcased learning and impact from the Covid-19 Responses for Equity (CORE) programme. The events brought together researchers and funders to consider the implications of CORE’s main areas of learning for managing multiple crises and building the resilience of the most vulnerable. They facilitated conversations around future research collaborations for building resilience and equity, shaped around three key areas of learning: 1) Informality and marginalised groups in crisis response; 2) Shockproof and inclusive fiscal policies and 3) Equitable support for livelihoods and food. This learning guide draws out the key messages and learning from across the three events.

Delivering Digital G2P Payments to Urban Informal Populations: Lessons and Future Policy Implications from COVID-19 Responses (03.10.2023) The COVID-19 response in many Sub-Saharan African countries included the rapid deployment of social protection programs leveraging digital systems to counteract the income losses that were disproportionately experienced by urban informal populations. Using data from three in-depth country case studies, this paper finds that these digital government-to-person (G2P) payments contributed to countries reaching beneficiaries quickly and safely and that G2P payments may be particularly viable in urban, as compared to rural, areas due to greater access to digital and financial infrastructure, creative use of big data, and population density that allows for mass communication.

Social services in Europe: Adapting to a new reality

Eurofound (16.08.2023) This report addresses the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on social services in the EU. While the pandemic negatively affected social services, it nevertheless provided lessons on how to adapt them in response to new challenges and social risks. One lesson, for instance, is that policies should be developed to make better use of digitalisation in the sector, to improve access to new technologies and training for both workers and services’ target groups. And, most importantly, there is a need for clear contingency plans and funding for adaptation in times of crisis.  An increase in public expenditure on social protection, healthcare and education was a critical part of the pandemic response. However, there is uncertainty about the future development of social services in the context of the overarching policy interest and investment in the green and digital transition. This implies that the contribution of social services to the resilience of European societies needs to remain in the policy debate and that policies should be further fine-tuned.

Towards a Robust Social Protection System in the Post-Pandemic Era (15.07.2023) The increasing need for an extensive social safety net has prompted most countries to launch new social protection measures or reframe existing ones. The G20’s Development Working Group emphasises the importance of effective social protection systems in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to enable the poor to contribute to mainstream economic activity. Taking a cue from this and learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent developments in social protection, this policy brief examines whether existing social protection policies should be rethought and redesigned to respond to the challenges of the contemporary ‘polycrisis’ world, while also striving for more cost-effective and impactful approaches. The brief suggests a greater role for the G20 in supporting an enhanced global social protection agenda, ensuring coordination among its members in promoting these approaches, and mobilising resources, including through the expansion of development cooperation support to other non-G20 countries to expand and sustain robust national social protection initiatives as part of the overall SDGs implementation efforts.

The Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Social Welfare Policies of Norway and Japan: A Comparative Study

Journal of Social Policy, Social Change and Development (2023) The result of the study implies that both countries have made significant efforts to support individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic. Their policy responses differ in terms of scope, implementation, and outcome. Norway's policy response has been characterized by a significant expansion of its welfare state, including the provision of financial assistance to individuals, businesses, and local governments. In contrast, Japan's policy response has been more targeted and focused on supporting specific sectors and vulnerable groups, such as small and medium-sized enterprises and low-income households.

Shock-responsive social protection and climate shocks in Latin America and the Caribbean: Lessons from COVID-19 (Feb 2023) Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the regions most exposed and vulnerable to climate-related risks, with large shocks occurring regularly. Climate change is exacerbating the frequency and variability of climate related extremes and increasing slow onset events, threatening social and economic outcomes in the region. Responding to climate change will require stronger risk management systems that include social protection. Social protection systems in LAC are relatively advanced, but they do not yet consider climate shocks. Overall, social protection systems suffer from relatively low coverage, leaving significant parts of the population vulnerable to transient and chronic poverty in the face of shocks. The large social protection responses that LAC implemented to address the impacts of COVID-19 present an opportunity to prepare for the challenges arising from increased climate-related shocks. This study investigates how non-contributory social protection (mainly income support) has been used to respond to previous climate-related shocks and to COVID-19, and what are the implications for managing climate-related shocks in the future.

Ready for the Next Crisis? Investing in Health System Resilience (23.02.2023) The COVID-19 pandemic had massive consequences for societies and health systems across the OECD and beyond. Health systems were not resilient enough. Resilient health systems plan and are ready for shocks, such as pandemics, economic crises or the effects of climate change. They are able to minimise the negative consequences of crises, recover as quickly as possible, and adapt to become better performing and more prepared. Smart, targeted investments in health system resilience are needed to improve health and ensure the next shock is less disruptive and costly. This report reviews the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and applies them to build policy recommendations to ensure the global community is ready for the next crisis. The reviews and recommendations cover health system issues – including workforce, digitalisation, continuity of care and mental health – and other topics, including long-term care, supply chains and international co-operation.

The future of telemedicine after COVID-19

The use of telemedicine, or remote clinical consultations, was limited in most OECD countries before the COVID‑19 pandemic, held back by regulatory barriers and hesitancy from patients and providers. In early 2020, as COVID‑19 massively disrupted in-person care, governments moved quickly to promote the use of telemedicine. The number of teleconsultations skyrocketed, playing a vital role in maintaining access to care, but only partly offsetting reductions in in-person care. This brief describes how governments scaled up remote care during the pandemic and explores the impact that this massive shift to remote care has had on health care system performance

The Role of Digital in the COVID-19 Social Assistance Response (2022) The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in vast numbers of people in need of social assistance, many of whom were not previously covered by social safety nets. To meet this unprecedented level of need, governments quickly scaled social assistance reaching over 1.7 billion people in low- and middle income countries. Scaling up social assistance presented two separate but related challenges: first, adapting targeting and registration to reach individuals not commonly included in social assistance databases, such as urban informal workers, and second, how to deliver government to person (G2P) payments safely and securely in the context of the pandemic. Countries that could leverage pre-pandemic investments in digital public infrastructure (DPI)— identification (ID), payments and trusted data sharing—were better able to implement COVID-response social assistance programs and reach more beneficiaries. This paper, analyzes the role of these DPIs, also called digital stack, in the social protection response to COVID by analyzing data on howCOVID-response social assistance programs register red and made payments to beneficiaries across178 programs across 85 countries. The analysis shows how these digital systems and infrastructure allowed for innovative targeting, registration, and payment approaches that covered a significantportion of the population. This paper uses administrative data on G2P registration and payment methods combined with anecdotal evidence from country case studies to show how pre-pandemic investments in digital databases, digital ID, and digital payments impacted countries’ abilities to reach new beneficiaries and deliver payments safely in the context of the pandemic response. It further details workaround solutions implemented by countries without these assets and infrastructure in place, and how some countries were able to expand their digital infrastructure even amidst the urgency of the crisis response. The analysis concludes with suggestions as to the impact that the social assistance response to COVID-19 can have on the future of social protection payments, in terms of inspiring investments in building and strengthening G2P ecosystems globally.

The COVID-19 crisis showed the future of G2P payments should be digital. Here's why (03.10.2022) The COVID-19 crisis highlighted how digital public infrastructure (DPI) can play a critical role for governments to deliver social assistance quickly and safely.  DPI not only allowed governments to reach an unprecedented number of new beneficiaries, it also allowed them to make payments to them remotely. This brought millions of people into the social protection and financial system for the first time. Countries now have the opportunity to learn from, and build on, these experiences to implement G2P (government-to-people) payment ecosystems that are efficient, responsive and inclusive.

German Financial State Aid during COVID-19 Pandemic: Higher Impact among Digitalized Self-Employed

IZA (Oct 2022) In response to strong revenue and income losses that a large share of the self-employed faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the German federal government introduced a €50bn emergency aid program. Based on real-time online-survey data comprising more than 20,000 observations, we analyze the impact of this program on the subjective survival probability. In particular, we investigate how the digitalization level of the self-employed influences the program’s effectiveness. Employing propensity score matching, we find that the emergency aid program had only moderately positive effects on the confidence of the self-employed to survive the crisis. However, the self-employed whose businesses were highly digitalized, benefitted much more from the state aid compared to those whose businesses were less digitalized. This holds true only for those self-employed in advanced digitalization stages, who started the digitalization processes already before the crisis. Moreover, taking a regional perspective, we find suggestive evidence that the quality of the regional broadband infrastructure matters in the sense that it increases the effectiveness of the emergency aid program. Our findings show the interplay between governmental support programs, the digitalization levels of entrepreneurs, and the regional digital infrastructure. The study helps public policy to increase the impact of crisis-related policy instruments.

Social protection responses to COVID-19 in MENA: Design, implementation and child-sensitivity (03.10.2022) COVID-19 has affected all countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and groups already vulnerable before the crisis, such as children, have been particularly affected. Social protection can promote children’s well-being and reduce the negative impacts of crises on them, especially if their needs and vulnerabilities are taken into account. Against this background, the IPC-IG and UNICEF MENARO partnered to analyse the social protection responses to COVID-19 in MENA and assess the extent to which they took children’s needs into account.

Income Support for Non-covered Workers during COVID-19: A Review of Policy Responses (Sept 2022) This paper provides an overview on the income support measures for non-covered workers implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis, describing the collection of measures and policies in place in each selected country. This document provides a comparative overview of the different measures implemented in the context of the crisis, considering their design and evolution across the course of the crisis. In sum, there has been a worldwide wave of income transfers to support those hit hard by the pandemic.

Poor families first: Challenges of the ‘stimulus checks’ in the United States’ (01.09.2022) Economic Impact Payments (EIPs)—commonly referred to as ‘stimulus checks’—were one of the key measures adopted by the US government to ease the crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. By May 2022, USD817 billion had been distributed to about 85 per cent of US households. However, those most in need faced many obstacles to receive the benefits, or never even received them. This Policy Research Brief examines some aspects of the operationalisation of this initiative and provides suggestions for future improvement.

Social assistance spending in Africa before, during and post COVID-19 (2022)  This Brief examines social assistance spending in Africa before, during and post-COVID-19 and uses the same to demonstrate how social protection experts in Africa can build on this spending momentum to improve the adequacy and reach of social assistance.

Budgets for climate, sustainability and social inclusion

UNICEF /UNDP (2022) Responding to climate change, reducing poverty, and supporting social inclusion must be addressed together to build resilient economies and societies. As the recovery from COVID-19 continues, governments need to invest in addressing social and economic inequalities while actively promoting new, sustainable, and climate-friendly livelihoods and income-generating opportunities for all. 

Addressing the related challenges posed by climate change and inequalities are essential elements to accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Government budgets are the most significant instruments to do so, including aligning policies and incentives and ensuring sufficient financing for just transitions. 

Social protection and response to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean: Innovations in registration and payment systems

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) (01.08.2022) The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the foundations of the economy and provoked devastating social effects in all the countries in the world, being Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) one of the most affected regions. This report updates the regional overview of the response measures to the pandemic, details cash transfer programmes and analyses their coverage and discusses the challenges in adopting these innovations during the response to the first outbreak of the virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

G2P digital payments and financial inclusion for social resilience

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) (01.08.2022) There is a global trend to automate and digitalise the cash payments of social protection programmes, and there has been a shift towards diversifying payment means in some African countries such as Zambia, Namibia, Togo, Tanzania, Malawi, Comoros and Mozambique. In Mozambique, the COVID-19 pandemic response has tripled the social protection system’s coverage, from 520,000 to approximately 1.6 million households. In the past few years, the country’s emergency response has driven improvements in digital payments.

The Lost Promise of More and Better Jobs | Jobs Undone: Reshaping the Role of Governments toward Markets and Workers in the Middle East and North Africa (July 2022) Reports that one of the most persistent patterns of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s labor market remains the large share of healthy and capable working-age populations excluded from the labor force and employment, particularly among women and youth aged 15 to 24 years not in employment, education, or training (NEET). The lack of inclusivity proves most apparent in the lost potential of women, whose labor force participation, averaging about 20 percent, remains the world’s lowest. The limited public and formal private sector employment and prevalence of informality has had many repercussions on both the quantity and quality of jobs created for the region’s increasingly ambitious and competent population. The COVID-19 pandemic recovery in terms of jobs and unemployment for the majority of the population will prove slow and difficult. Includes a case study on an online learning platform to deliver accessible, quality education in Jordan.

Closing the digital divide with identity and payment systems

GovInsider (12.08.2022) Reliable, well designed digital ID and payment systems can be an important social and economic leveller. But governments must be inclusive and citizen-centric in rolling them out, according to the World Bank.