COVID-19 has challenged Kosovo’s households and businesses in many ways – UN Kosovo Team’s second Socio-Economic Impact Assessment
- UNDP, together with UN Women and UNFPA, conducted the second Rapid Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) in November 2020 to understand how the pandemic has impacted households and businesses in Kosovo, as a follow-up to the SEIA that was conducted in May 2020.
UNDP, together with UN Women and UNFPA, conducted the second Rapid Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) in November 2020 to understand how the pandemic has impacted households and businesses in Kosovo, as a follow-up to the SEIA that was conducted in May 2020.
SEIA2 reinforces the findings on the socio-economic implications of COVID-19 as compared to the first assessment, including increasing unemployment, aggravated poverty, continued income loss, job insecurity, lag in education, increase in domestic violence, difficulties in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and stalling of progress towards gender equality. This Assessment revealed that COVID-19 is having gendered effects, with most impacts felt more severely by women than men.
“In the midst of this pandemic, which has so greatly affected the people of Kosovo and indeed the whole world, I am proud that we as United Nations family are coming together to offer tools that allow all of us to better understand the broader impact of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic and what kind of steps may be required to address it. Bringing together the joint competencies of the UN family, this assessment allows us to make important comparisons on how challenges have changed over the last six months, allowing institutions to develop appropriate integrated policy responses and assistance targeting those that have been particularly impacted by the crisis”, emphasized Ulrika Richardson, UN Development Coordinator for Kosovo.
“SEIA2 results allow us to see how the impacts of the COVID crisis have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic over the period of six months. While the pandemic began as a health crisis, it soon turned into a multi-dimensional crisis with far-reaching socio-economic implications, hitting hardest those who are already in vulnerable situations, further increasing inequalities. Better understanding of the impacts of the crisis allow for better targeted socio-economic recovery measures. The data is made available through interactive platform for further analysing and as a basis for planning for Kosovo institutions and their partners”, said Maria Suokko, Resident Representative for UNDP in Kosovo.
Job losses have increased. In November 2020, 11% of respondents reported having lost their jobs, as compared to 8% in May. The majority of those who had lost their jobs did not receive financial support or unemployment benefits from the institutions or municipalities. It should be also noted that 89% of those who were seeking employment prior to COVID-19 remained unemployed in November 2020. In November 2020, 89% of respondents had returned to working at their work premises.
While women were already doing most of the unpaid care work prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the results of this assessment have shown that the crisis and its subsequent restrictive measures have resulted in a dramatic increase in this burden. Data revealed that the share of unpaid care work increased for women, as they were more likely to have spent increased time on cleaning (24%) and cooking (18%) as compared to men (13% and 6%, respectively).
“It is likely that the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for women and families will last for years. As the unpaid care burden continues to increase for women, it is time we recognize its contribution to the economy. Unpaid care work is indispensable to the development of economy and societies and is central to human well-being. The results provided by SEIA will help design interventions that support the equal distribution of unpaid care work and provide economic resilience of women” stated Vlora Tuzi Nushi, UN Women Head of Office.
Results between SEIA1 and SEIA2 show that the psychological effects caused by the COVID-19 have increased. 36% of respondents in November declared that their mental or emotional health had been affected, as compared to 28% in May. Similar to results of wave 1, women seem to be more affected in this regard (40%) than men (32%). Cases of physical illness and illness of a family member have also increased by 11 pp and 9 pp respectively. Older respondents above the age of 65 more commonly reported physical illness (15%) than respondents belonging to younger age groups. Around 4% reported some difficulties in accessing gynaecological services, while 2% reported difficulties in accessing maternal health services.
Visare Mujko – Nimani UNFPA Head of Office said, "SEIA2 has continued to give us a clear picture of the difficulties and shortcomings that COVID-19 has caused in our health system, particularly when it comes to Sexual and Reproductive Health services. This assessment continues to provide us as well as local and central institutions with insights in identifying vulnerable groups and those most left behind whose lives are more likely to be impacted by the pandemics. The findings will also be useful to provide more targeted services, mitigate the effects of the crisis and increase community resilience.”
Both rapid assessments, in May and November have revealed the close connection between the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in domestic violence. Around 59% of the respondents who took part in the SEIA2 felt that domestic violence had increased since the beginning of the pandemic a slight increase from May. Worryingly, while 63% of women believed that domestic violence had increased, only one third of them declared not to know where to seek help and support in case of experiencing domestic violence (32%).
COVID-19 has resulted with significant impacts for Kosovo businesses which are almost exclusively owned by men (82%), while only 11% of the businesses were owned by women. Changes in the restrictive measures to slow down the spread of the virus and the gradual re-opening of the society in June 2020 affected the operation of businesses. In May, 56% reported that their business activities were fully stopped due to the COVID-19, while in November, only 13% reported the same. In May 2020 around 23% of businesses declared the impact of the pandemic to be very negative. This number increased to 55% in November 2020.
Shortage of clients (89%), difficulties with salary payments (39%) and ability to comply with tax obligations (33%) stood out as the three top challenges for businesses in November 2020. 88% of the businesses reported decrease in sales of products and services, as well as in revenues.
36% of the business respondents did not have an answer when asked how much longer their business could afford the pandemic situation. In May, this percentage amounted only to 13%. 35% of businesses – both in May and November - predicted that their businesses could afford the situation around one to two more months.
These study findings will help to more examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on households and businesses and understand which areas (individuals, households, and businesses) to focus the assistance on.
Rapid Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA), was conducted by UNDP, together with UN Woman and UNFPA.