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BRIEF June 8, 2020

Phone Survey Data: Monitoring COVID-19 Impact on Firms and Households in Ethiopia


Despite the closure of borders around the world and aggressive containment measures, COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to spread globally and has reached Ethiopia. While the current battle to keep new infections low continues in Ethiopia, this is not a guarantee of immunity from either the virus or the economic fallout. The World Health Organization warns that Africa should be prepared for the worst, and Ethiopia is no exception.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its negative economic effects create an urgent need for timely data and evidence to help monitor and mitigate the social and economic impacts of the crisis and protect the welfare of the least well-off in Ethiopia’s society. To monitor the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ethiopia’s economy and people and inform interventions and policy responses, the World Bank Ethiopia team, in collaboration with the government, designed and implemented two high-frequency phone surveys, one with firms and one with households.  

Firm COVID-19 monitoring survey

The phone monitoring survey of firms monitors the effects of and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic on firm operations, hiring and firing, and expectations of future operations and labor demand. To assess the impact on firms, the team took a stratified sample from an administrative register of all formal firms in Addis Ababa, Adama, Bahir Dar, Hawassa, and Mekelle. Survey data collection began in mid-April 2020 and firms are called back every three weeks for a total of eight survey rounds, allowing to support decision making on possible policy responses and assessing the effectiveness of government interventions as they are being implemented.

Policy briefs firm COVID-19 monitoring survey

Household COVID-19 monitoring survey

The potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia are expected to be severe on Ethiopian households’ welfare. To monitor these impacts on households, the team selected a subsample of households that had been interviewed for the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) in 2019, covering urban and rural areas in all regions of Ethiopia. The 15-minute questionnaire covers a series of topics, such as knowledge of COVID and mitigation measures, access to routine healthcare as public health systems are increasingly under stress, access to educational activities during school closures, employment dynamics, household income and livelihood, income loss and coping strategies, and external assistance.

The survey is implemented using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing, using a modular approach, which allows for modules to be dropped and/or added in different waves of the survey. Survey data collection started at the end of April 2020 and households are called back every three to four weeks for a total of seven survey rounds to track the impact of the pandemic as it unfolds and inform government action.        

Policy briefs household COVID-19 monitoring survey

Data for phone monitoring surveys



Christina Wieser
Senior Economist
Alemayehu Ambel
Senior Economist