Rapid Socio-Economic Assessment on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Garissa County, Kenya


The COVID-19 pandemic has moved rapidly beyond an international health pandemic to heralding a global socio-economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.[1] According to the ILO, the pandemic is devastating labour markets, creating a disproportionate impact on certain segments of the population, [2] including women and youth.[3] Forcibly displaced populations, including refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and hosting communities will be among the hardest hit.[4] The overwhelming majority of the forcibly displaced are hosted in developing countries with limited resources and capacities to respond to such an unprecedented situation.[5]

Kenya recorded the first case of Covid-19 on 13th March 2020, and as of 6th May 2020, 582 cases had been reported, with 26 deaths. The Government of Kenya has since enforced a raft of measures to stop the spread of the disease, including ban on international passenger travels, restriction of movement in and out of four hotspot counties including the capital Nairobi, and a 7PM to 5.00AM countrywide curfew; among other measures. Movement of goods and manufacturing has continued, albeit at a smaller scale. Key economic sectors that drive Kenya’s GDP growth and employ high numbers of workers have been gravely affected by the pandemic (tourism, horticulture, export and import). The Central Bank of Kenya has since downgraded economic growth prospects for 2020 from 6.2% to a conservative 3.4 %, in light of the pandemic, citing disruption in domestic production and reduced demand by global trade partners. The informal economy, which accounts for up to 83% of employment in Kenya and where most refugees and forcefully displaced persons work, has too experienced disruptions. Many workers in the informal economy becoming more vulnerable to joblessness and poverty.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, forcibly displaced persons were confronted with a range of challenges, including loss of assets and psychological trauma, limited access to rights and services including education, lack of opportunities, numerous protection risks and a lack of a planning horizon. Host communities, which tend to be among the poorest in their country, typically located in lagging regions, have had to pursue their own development efforts in an environment that has been transformed by a large inflow of newcomers.

These populations are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 as they face higher rates of unemployment and underemployment. Many refugee and IDP workers are either self-employed or casual workers most often in the informal economy and will be disproportionately hit as they do not have access to social protection including paid or sick leave systems, unemployment benefits amongst others. The gender dimension across these populations is especially acute as women also have less access to social protection and will bear a disproportionate burden in the care economy, in the case of closure of schools or care systems. In camp and settlement settings, these situations become heightened. Furthermore, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) among these populations, already at significant disadvantage in the labour market, will inevitably be more negatively affected by COVID-19 than others.

The COVID-19 crisis is also threatening peaceful coexistence within countries, and this may become more pronounced between forcibly displaced and host communities. The resultant social economic impacts occasioned by differentiated access to services, livelihoods and especially health care, might lead to increased social tensions. Maintaining and further investing in social cohesion efforts will be particularly important for countries experiencing fragility resulting from forced displacement.

Action is urgently needed to better understand the situation on the ground in the context of socio-economic impacts to be able to mitigate the plight of both forcibly displaced persons and host communities. Humanitarian assistance is of course critical, but insufficient when situations become protracted, and they need to be complemented by a development approach that is focused on the socio-economic dimensions of the crisis. The immediate short-term impacts are already placing millions of people in danger of falling into poverty,[6] and the situation will require major investment to support the recovery process, helping economies, local labour markets, societies and communities recover and ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected.

PROSPECTS Partnership Programme

UNICEF, UNHCR, ILO, IFC and the World Bank, in collaboration with and supported by the Government of the Netherlands, are implementing a joint and fully integrated approach to respond to the forced displacement situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the Horn of Africa by joining the partners’ efforts to develop a new paradigm in responding to forced displacement crises through the involvement of development actors.

The PROSPECTS programme aims to help transform the way governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, respond to forced displacement crises – and in particular: (1) to enhance the enabling environment for the socio-economic inclusion of forcibly displaced persons (to mitigate their plight during years of exile and to best prepare them for their return); (2) to enhance access to education and child protection for vulnerable children on the move; and (3) to strengthen the resilience of host communities through inclusive socio-economic development that also benefits forcibly displaced persons.

In this partnership, ILO brings significant expertise and experience in supporting enabling environments to underpin inclusive socio-economic growth and decent work, strengthen labour markets and promote access to improved working conditions and fundamental rights at work, including through the involvement of its tripartite national constituents. The ILO stimulates labour market demand and immediate job creation through employment-intensive investment, local economic and business development and promotion of specific value chains and market systems. It provides targeted support to labour market institutions, services and compliance and monitoring mechanisms that facilitate the integration of refugees into the labour market in accordance with its strong normative foundation of international labour standards. The ILO also brings expertise on technical and vocational education and training and on the recognition of prior learning for certifying the skills of refugees to better ensure access to the labour market, and methods for assessing labour market demand to provide the right skills to refugees needed by employers.

Objective and scope of work

As the impact of the crisis deepens around the world, governments, social partners, multilateral agencies, donors and other national and international stakeholders, will need support through access to relevant data on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 at macro level. This data will be further reinforced by local impact assessments to be able to review the actual situation on the ground. In the context of the eight countries in the PROSPECTS programme, it will be crucial for national stakeholders, the PROSPECTS partners and others to have a more detailed understanding of the socio-economic situation in the targeted geographical intervention areas. To that end, the purpose of the assignment is to support the ILO specifically and national stakeholders and PROSPECTS partners more broadly through conducting rapid assessments in the intervention areas on the impacts of COVID-19 on jobs, livelihoods and key elements of the local socio-economic environment, including social cohesion.

The assessment is expected to contribute significantly to the development of immediate responses that may contribute to repurposing Year 1 activities and at least providing evidence to better guide decision-making on future programme activities in the county. In addition, the rapid assessments are expected to assist in informing medium-term post-crisis recovery strategies for the PROSPECTS programme, supporting governments, including local governments, social partners and other stakeholders in this process. It is possible that the crisis could undermine gains made in improved policy and programmatic responses to forced displacement, further reinforcing the importance of targeted interventions to support efforts to avoid such negative impacts.

The rapid assessments will seek to:

  • Assess the current impact of the COVID-19 crisis, including government prevention and containment public health measures, on local labour markets (formal and informal) and the socio-economic environment in Garissa County; and
  • Identify the needs of the targeted communities (host communities and refugees) to inform the subsequent responses that may lead to re-purposing of activities and work plans and guidance on potential action in both the short and medium-term. This may include for example:

o better understanding of the delivery of WASH services to refugee, IDP and host communities to consider developing Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) responses to support these services;
o review of either existing health care facilities and infrastructure in targeted locations or gaps in availability that might require additional EIIP support to government public health responses;
o better understanding the level to which COVID-19 responses have closed down both formal and informal economic activities and what livelihoods activities might still be either functioning or possible;
o supporting public health awareness programmes in targeted communities;
o Assessing cash assistance and social protection to all communities to identify gaps and challenges that may lead refugee, IDP and host community families to adopt negative coping mechanisms.

In relation to the point above on cash assistance and social protection, the pandemic may well create local socio-economic environments in which negative coping mechanisms, including child labour and other exploitative practices such as sexual exploitation, may appear and flourish. It may also lead to exploitation and abuse of vulnerable workers in the labour market (formal and informal). The assessments will therefore also seek information on these situations to better inform protection responses, especially in respect of the impact on women, children and PWDs.

For the purpose of this assessment, surveys will be conducted targeting individuals, households, enterprises (formal and informal), cooperatives and other such associations; and institutions (public, private sector and non-governmental). The target population for the survey includes refugees and host communities in the County.

Since data is lacking in terms of labour market and socio-economic impacts, it is essential that the assessment include questions that will assist in understanding changes brought about by the impact of COVID-19 on:

(i) Individuals or households

  • Employment and self-employment (formal and informal) situation by status and sector (continuation or not of economic activities)
  • Wages, incomes and needs
  • Existence of coping measures to address COVID-19 in work places
  • Caring responsibilities (children, elderly, PWDs) and needs
  • Social cohesion between host and refugee/IDP communities (negative impact through increased social tension)
  • Social protection coverage or availability of cash-based assistance programmes (and extent to which these meet actual needs)
  • Access to other Covid-19 policy measures for workers and their families
  • Immediate and medium-term concerns and needs

(ii) Enterprises (including cooperatives)

  • Formal (e.g. registered) or informal enterprise, including cooperatives
  • Type and size of business (to establish qualification under MSME categories, including cooperatives)
  • Output of enterprise and destination[7]
  • Payment of wages
  • Social security payments (if relevant)
  • Prevention measures taken to address COVID-19 in the work place
  • Operational status of business in current climate (e.g. current levels of capacity, sales, income, etc.)
  • Challenges faced in continuing operations (e.g. impact of containment measures, supply chain bottlenecks, etc.)
  • Access to Covid-19 measures to support enterprises including cooperatives (e.g. access to any financial relief, grants, etc.)

Questions will also be required to ensure the availability of more qualitative data, including on quality of work and enterprise activity to identify exploitation and abuse where this exists, including situations of child labour. It is possible that social tensions may arise over the delivery of support services to the different communities which could be addressed through targeted interventions to establish equitable and inclusive service delivery that may reinforce social cohesion. Overall, this data is vitally important to identify potential short and medium-term responses that can be integrated into ILO country team work plans, in collaboration with PROSPECTS partners, central and local governments, social partners and other relevant stakeholders. Hence, the survey must also include questions to identify needs and expectations of these populations and enterprises during and in the aftermath of the crisis.

Duties and responsibilities

· Conduct desk research to review measures introduced by the governments (national and county), including those that extend to health protection measures and economic support on both the demand- and supply-side (sample reference sources could include ILO COVID-19 country profiles[8] and other relevant international and national sources).

· Conduct mapping/review of existing or current assessments of relevant international and national organisations, in particular UNHCR and UNICEF, review measures being implemented for forcibly displaced populations, for example, closure of camps and restrictions on movement, and integrated these where relevant in the ILO rapid assessment.

· Develop surveys targeting individuals, households and enterprises. The surveys should include questions to understand the impact of COVID-19 on local labour markets and socio-economic environments, and identify needs of forcibly displaced and host community populations to inform subsequent response actions as explained above.

· Design a rapid sampling plan to determine the sample frame, size and method to use in identifying the sample in targeted intervention areas of the PROSPECTS programme. The sample must include affected populations as relevant: refugees, IDPs and host communities. Baselines may be available from concerned agencies).

· Based on the sample selection, conduct face-to-face, online or telephone surveys, collaborating with others as necessary to support this process, for example, UNHCR.

· Prepare an indicative and actionable work plan with time frame and an estimated budget for short and medium-term interventions.

· Compile raw data, clean and check these for consistency.

· Analyse data, draft an interim report based on initial analysis of data and submit for comments and inputs.

· Finalise the report based on comments and submit to the satisfaction of the ILO.

Expected deliverables and time frame

The rapid assessment will take a maximum of 1 month for completion from initial desk research to finalization of the report after incorporating comments from the ILO.


(i)Within 1 week upon signature of the contract:**

Desk review, survey questions and methodology including the sampling plan

Indicative Amount of Payment: 40 % of the total contract amount

(ii)Within max. 1 months upon signature of contract

Final report

Indicative Amount of Payment: 60% of the total contract amount

Desired background qualifications, experience and competences

The consultant or service company should have the following experience, expertise and competences:

· Experience in primary information gathering, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with government, private sector, multilateral agencies, and other relevant key actors;

· Capacity to write high quality, concise and analytical reports;

· Experience in conducting labour market and socio-economic assessments (supply and demand elements of labour markets), including project and programme implementation at local level;

· Experience in research activities in forced displacement settings would be an advantage, as would experience in conducting assessments in Garissa County, and the East/Horn of Africa.

[1] “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19”, United Nations, March 2020: https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/sg_report_socio-economic_impac…

[2] https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/coronavirus/impacts-and-responses/lang…

[3] Transcript of video message by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, 9 April 2020: https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sgsm20040.doc.htm

[4] “UNHCR warns social and economic consequences of pandemic may be worse than health impact”, Euronews, 10 April 2020: https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/10/unhcr-warns-social-and-economic-cons…

[5] The forced displacement crisis has increased in scale and complexity in recent years. According to UNHCR, there were about 70.8 million forcibly displaced persons in 2018, of whom about 25.9 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

[6] Research reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 could push a further half a billion people into poverty unless urgent action is taken: https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/dignity-not-destitution

[7] Note: Locally, the direct effects of COVID-19 are going to be either through the virus, containment of the virus or supply chains. For example, enterprises in the construction sector in rural areas might be less affected than those in manufacturing in urban settings.

[8] COVID-19 and the world of work, Country policy responses, ILO, Geneva, 2020: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/coronavirus/country-responses/lang–en…

How to apply

Expression of interest and CVs should be sent to [email protected] by Monday 18 May 2020.

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