AKIPRESS.COM - Mongolia has taken early and decisive measures to prevent the inflow and outbreak of COVID-19. Despite the limited cases confirmed in Mongolia compared to other countries in the region, the household-level shocks caused by COVID-19 can be long-lasting and disproportionally hit the poor and vulnerable the hardest, creating an urgent need for timely data collection to help monitoring and mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the shock.
To monitor the household-level impacts of COVID-19, the National Statistics Office of Mongolia (NSO) and the World Bank have implemented a joint COVID-19 Household Response Phone Survey (HRPS). The HRPS drew a subsample of 2,000 households from the nationally representative 2018 Household Socio-Economic Survey (HSES) and has monitored and collected information from the same households across multiple rounds. The first round took place from May 22 to 29, 2020, and the second round was implemented from August 31 to September 7, 2020. The survey questionnaire focuses on (i) economic transmission channels, (ii) information access and behavioral changes, (iii) access in education, health and financial services, (iv) coping mechanisms, and (v) welfare impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key findings (Round 2):
- Self-employed and herder households have continued to be impacted in Round 2.
- Family business closures and income losses have been substantial since the pandemic. Amongst households that were operating businesses in Round 2, 3 out of 4 households with an open (fully or partially) business had lower incomes compared to August 2019.
- Half of herders and farmers experienced income losses compared to the same time last year. In particular, lower prices in livestock products, mainly cashmere, have affected herders substantially.
- Food security remains a serious problem for the poor, with little sign of improvement between Rounds 1 and 2.
- 2 in 5 poor households were still uncertain about their ability to obtain enough/healthy food in Round 2 and nearly 1 in 4 poor households expressed concerns about food security in the next week
- Social assistance relief measures have helped mitigate household impacts.
- 81 percent of households received some sort of government assistance during the pandemic, mitigating partially or completely the income losses for more than 90% of those receiving assistance
- The vast majority of households (96%) did not face any issues in receiving social assistance benefits under the pandemic and most of the transfers (75%) households received were immediately used or were to be cashed out soon
Key findings (Round 1):
- Self-employed and agriculture households have been significantly impacted
- 16 percent of self-employed workers received zero income and 73 percent experienced income losses since end-January. This is mainly due to fewer customers, business place closures and logistics disruptions due to COVID-19
- 70 percent of farmer and herder households reported their agricultural income has declined compared to the same time last year
- Wage employment was less affected by COVID-19, yet more than one in three households reported wage income losses
- Food security is a serious issue for the poor
- Nearly half of the poor were uncertain about their ability to obtain food in the past 30 days due to lack of money or rising prices. Three in four poor households were affected by the recent price increases of the major food items
- Alarming levels of concerns on household finances were reported
- More than 40 percent of households, particularly the poor (53 percent), are worried about their finances in the next month
- Three in four households with school-enrolled children were engaged in distance learning activities. The overall satisfaction on these learning activities is high but most children need assistance from other household members at home.
- No major disruptions in access to health and financial services under the COVID-19 pandemic were observed