Changing lives and livelihoods in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic in rural Bihar

Project Active from to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is both a health crisis and an economic crisis. A key response on the health front has been a lockdown and restrictions on activities to contain the spread of the virus. However, a lockdown also means an economic shutdown with a decimation of work, livelihoods and incomes for the vast majority of people.

While the well-off have more staying power, there are grave concerns about how the poor and those with meagre livelihoods even in normal times can cope and survive the lockdown period and beyond. The challenges are all the more severe in poor states like Bihar. While the government has announced a number of relief measures, there is an urgent need to generate information on the ground reality of both the economic impact and the efficacy (relative to need) of various support measures.

This project aims to generate rapid survey-based information to assess both the differentiated economic impact of the pandemic as well as support received by rural households in Bihar. While the COVID-19 caseload is concentrated in urban areas, the suppression measures have potentially deep though under-investigated economic impacts on rural households through a range of channels.

The project will collect primary data through phone interviews from a sample of about 1300 rural households in seven districts of Bihar focusing on two key areas:

  • Impact of the pandemic on livelihoods since the lockdown; and
  • Support received by households from government and non-government sources. The chosen sample makes use of past surveys conducted by the Institute of Human Development (IHD) with these households, most recently in 2016-17.