COVID-19 Responses for Equity (CORE) Project

A New Digital Deal for an Inclusive Post-COVID-19 Social Compact: Developing Digital Strategies for Social and Economic Reconstruction

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Project Duration

July 2020 – June 2023

Project Description

The overall objective of the project is to generate and disseminate new evidence for policymaking on the role of digital transformation in the management of disasters and pandemics, and deepen social and economic inclusion and equity in the reconstructed post-pandemic developing world. The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • examine the potential of digitalisation to provide new opportunities to build more resilient states with improved visibility on informalising firms as they go online or virtual, reduce their workforce and obligations to contribute to legitimate taxation, and on formalising micro/informal firms that in turn could be visible to the state for purpose of disaster reflief;
  • assess the potential impact (or absence) of digital services to support informal firms, supply chains and households during COVID-19 lockdown conditions and for post-COVID-19 economic recovery;
  • identify the intersecting inequalities, such as gender, ethnicity and geographical location, that undermine digital access in the informal sectors and subsistence economies and affect people’s ability to access services and relief in crises and times of fragility and help improve social inclusion and cohesion; and
  • promote democratic governance and accountability – to understand the conditions for safe, secure and affordable digital services to improve democratic governance and effective accountable responses.

The geographic scope of this project encompasses the Latin American, South Asian and African regions and will be delivered through a Global South consortium consisting of Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP), LIRNEasia (LA) and Research ICT Africa. The consortium partners will utilise the same methodology to deliver the project outputs across all three regions. More precisely, the methodology will comprise desktop research and analysis of existing survey data and undertaking new quantitative and qualitative research.

The project is programmed for a duration of 36-months and split into three phases:

  • Phase 1 comprises of country, cross-country and regional analysis of existing data (2017 – 2018 After Access surveys and other secondary data) to demonstrate the relationships between socio-economic and ICT access and use indicators and their implications for access to pandemic response provisions.
  • Phase 2 consists of two phased surveys to gain a high-level understanding of the disruptions faced by households in fulfilling their food, routine health (non-COVID) and cash requirements during lockdown, and the impacts of these disruptions. Qualitative research via key informant interviews, in-depth interviews and focus groups (via phone and/or face to face) and e-diary methods will also be conducted to answer the same.
  • Phase 3 will utilise the findings from phases 1 and 2 to explore the linkages between digitalisation/datafication, in/formality, visibility to states of economic activity, expansion of the tax base, for increased need for social investment and protection. In addition, “e-formality policies” will be analysed to assess governments’ policy measures on the application of new technologies for the transition to formality as informal businesses come online and the informalising of small firms and self-employed as work moved online.

The project is overseen by an advisory panel of eminent economists in the regions. The role of the panel is to provide high-level guidance on project framing, contemporary public policy debates, and integration of research results within and across regions.


RIA COVID-19 Rapid Response Phone Survey Methodology.

Project Team

RIA: Alison Gillwald, Mundia Kabinga, Naila Govan-Vassen, Tapiwa Chinembiri, Roland Banya, Sandra Makumbirofa and Onkokame Mothobi
LIRNEAsia: Helani Galpaya, Gayani Hurulle, Tharaka Amarasinghe, Isuru Samaratunga, Ayesha Zainudeen and Nilusha Kapugama
IEP: Roxana Barrantes, Aileen Agüero and Diego Aguilar

Advisory Panel Members

Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy (Independent economist and former governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka), Prof. Mushtaq Khan (SOAS), Prof. Julian May (DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security), Dr. Partha Mukhopadhyay (Centre for Policy Research – Delhi), and Ms Carolina Trivelli (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP).


Policy Briefs:


Research papers:

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