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World Bank: Collecting data on COVID-related health practices, agricultural activities, migration, and consumption in India



Decision-maker’s challenge

The government of India announced a nation-wide lockdown on 24th March, 2020. The fallout from this lockdown was expected to have persistent and pervasive impacts on the rural economy that many believed could outweigh the direct effects of the pandemic itself. As India aimed to slow COVID-19 with restrictions on economic activity and movement, policymakers faced difficult choices: How to keep the pandemic in check while still preserving the livelihoods of people in poverty?

Impact opportunity

India’s rural economy employs over two-thirds of its population. In March 2020, as travel restrictions went into place, it seemed agricultural supply chains, migration patterns, and labor markets were likely to face sustained shocks over the coming year. There was a considerable need for evidence-based policy and programming in the high-risk, time-sensitive situation created by COVID-19. Policymakers and development partners lacked high-quality data both at scale, and also granular. This was essential to make informed decisions on economic relief, agricultural decision-making, income and labor, consumption expenditure, and more. There was also an urgent need to provide information on whether government relief programmes were reaching the intended populations to ensure rapid course-corrections, and to target resource allocation to geographies and populations that were most in need. 

Our approach

We planned to conduct three rounds of data collection from April to July 2020 with state-level representativeness to monitor changes over time and inform actions of government and civil society. Over the course of three months, IDinsight’s DoD team collected data remotely from six states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh) in India. We collected data through CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing) techniques on COVID-related health practices, impact on agricultural activities and plans, migration, consumption patterns, and more. Notably, 50 percent of respondents whom we targeted were female.

The results

The project is ongoing. 

  • Helped inform the Ministry of Rural Development’s COVID-19 response efforts
  • Helped inform the World Bank’s rural programming