Social Impacts and Responses Related to COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-income Countries

Rohwerder, B.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jul 2020
Research, reports and studies
COVID-19, Social protection
Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

This report focuses on the social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in low- and middle-income countries and considerations around preparedness, response/mitigation, resilience, and recovery measures taken or proposed in response. However, it should be acknowledged that the different 10 impacts are interconnected and COVID-19’s social impacts do not exist in isolation from the health and economic impacts, for instance. The report is structured around the five areas of technical competency expected of FCDO’s social development advisers and draws on a desk-review of the available literature and research. It should be noted, however, that most of the issues in the different sections are in fact interconnected and reflective of intersecting inequalities. As the pandemic progresses, more evidence is emerging from different countries about the immediate impacts of the outbreak and response, with some also showing the impacts over time through the use of multiple rounds of surveys. The research carried out so far has been a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research of the situation on the ground and predictions based on various models. The literature available also includes policy papers based on experience with previous epidemics and work being carried out in the relevant areas prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. Suggestions for preparedness, response/mitigation, resilience, and recovery measures in the literature come from a mixture of what is happening at the moment, what has worked in previous epidemics, and adaptions and reinforcement of recommendations generally made for activities in the particular areas. Much of the focus currently is on the more short-term responses to contain the pandemic and some of its indirect impacts, yet the long-term, lasting impacts of the crisis should be considered concurrently and included in the current responses to the crisis. Health needs are connected to social, economic, and environmental wellbeing, and there is a “strong environmental sustainability and gender equality imperative to build back better” (UN, 2020d, p. 1, 38). This report presents a snapshot of the evidence available in July 2020, with recognition that more evidence continues to emerge which may bring up new issues and nuance those that are discussed in this report. Nevertheless, the impacts outlined are likely to remain important to consider and be long-lasting.