Assessment of COVID-19 Effects and Response Measures in Ethiopia: Livelihoods and Welfare Implications

Incidence of COVID-19 pandemic that started in China in December 2019 and then spread to the entire world has adversely affected the world economy and threatened the welfare of populations. Since incidence of the first case on 13th of March 2020 in Ethiopia, the government has designed several mitigation and containment measures to reduce exposure and to control the pandemic. Awareness creation among the public was aggressively undertaken by the Government including the declaration and the enforcement of the state of emergency. Following the issuance of ‘Economic and Welfare Effects of COVID-19 and Responses in Ethiopia: Initial insights’ in April 2020, and ‘Economy-wide effects of the COVID-19 in Ethiopia: Policy and Recovery Options’, July 2020, both by the Ethiopian Economics Association; this study is designed to assess the level and efficacy of awareness of mitigation and containment measures that have been intended to lessen the impacts of the pandemic on welfare of households. The welfare assessment mainly focuses on the dynamics of employment, livelihoods, income, coping strategies against income loss, food insecurity, social safety nets and access to basic services. To assess public awareness and action to the pandemic, the first-round household-level baseline data collected by the World Bank using high frequency phone call between April 22 and May 13, 2020 is utilized. It covers 3249 households in all regions of the country (30 percent rural and 70 percent urban). The data is supposed to provide the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders timely information and to support evidence-based response to the COVID-19 crisis. The results of the study confirm that knowledge on the pandemic has been created in both rural and urban areas of the country. Eight mitigation measures (avoiding travels and crowds/gatherings, avoiding touching faces, social distancing, avoiding handshakes/physical greetings, and handwashing have been well perceived by about 83 percent or more of rural and 95 percent or more of urban households. Although masks or gloves have been understood by rural (61 percent) and urban (77 percent) households, it is less so compared to other measures.