The Impact of COVID-19 on Inclusive Development and Democratic Governance: Rapid and Post-Pandemic Assessment in the Mekong Subregion Countries

The COVID-19 pandemic is having unprecedented social, political and economic effects on economies of developed and developing countries. Global recession is projected the longer this pandemic persists. The impact could also be disproportionately distributed across countries, no exception for countries in the Mekong subregion, having small and low-income countries faced severe consequences given their relatively weak health system, limited fiscal and monetary policy options, and a relatively strong reliance on external trade.
Few seem to know the long-term effects of this pandemic. We, however, could observe the short and immediate impacts. Rapid- and post-pandemic response and high-quality research, therefore, are timely and needed to inform policymakers, the private sector, academia, development partners and the public who need to make evidence-based and informed decision on what need to be done to mitigate the risks and to ensure that a better system is established to deal with similar crisis in the future.
With funding support for three years from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Crown Corporation of the Government of Canada, the Cambodia Development Resource Institute is leading a consortium of think thanks in the Mekong subregion countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) to investigate socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. Given its multiplicity of the impact, this project examines: (1) macro-economic policy responses to mitigate the crisis and to chart recovery pathway, (2) social protection and micro, small and medium enterprises and (3) democratic governance. Women’s jobs, incomes and political participation are cross-cutting themes given the disproportionate gender effects as a result of the lockdown and other curtailment measures.

The objectives of the proposed study are: (1) to provide a rapid-response and post-assessment of socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic—focusing on effectiveness and efficiency of macro-economic responses (fiscal and monetary), the impact on business operations and profitability of enterprises and their mitigation strategies with the focus on women-led establishment, female-headed household, the poor and vulnerable; (2) to facilitate policy dialogue and coordination among researchers, policy makers, private sector actors, civil society, and women’s organizations in the response and recovery phases; and (3) to enhance partnerships and cooperation among research institutions in the Greater Mekong Subregion, encouraging information sharing and lessons learnt on COVID-19 responses and building the capacity of researchers of the institutes involved in the project.

Research Outcomes:

We expect to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. Improved policy dialogue between researchers, private sector, women business associations, civil society organisations and policymakers in the Mekong subregion: a series of policy dialogue forums and regional dissemination workshop will strengthen engagement between researchers and policymakers in the region. Online and face-to-face meetings among researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders across countries will demonstrate a sense of knowledge and information sharing for better-informed policy making in the region.
  2. Policy changes in the Mekong: beyond supporting interactions, the project aims to produce policy options that will be useful for policymakers in understanding how and to what extent the pandemic affects socio-economic aspects of the government, enterprises and households and in strengthening coordination and collaboration between the public and private sectors in the response to such crisis. This entails a documentation of best practices and lessons countries could examine and learn from each other.
  3. Enhanced leadership of researchers and research institutes for impact: the ability to produce high-quality analytical and relevant research reports will improve the capacities of researchers and affiliated institutions to inform and lead change in areas critical to development in the region.


International Development Research Centre, Canada (Click here for more information)

Research Partners:

Our research partners are:

  1. Centre for Analysis and Forecasting, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (Click here for more information)
  2. Centre for Economic and Social Development (Click here for more information)
  3. Faculty of Economics and Business Management, National University of Laos (Click here for more information)

Target Audience and Research Outputs:

We employ a multi-module approach to knowledge dissemination. Our audience are policymakers, the private sector, academia, development partners and the public. There will be a combination of policy dialogue forums, regular online bulletins, blogs and op-eds, policy briefs easily accessible by policymakers and the public, research brief, working papers and an edited volume of country chapters. Various knowledge products will be made available online, specifically on this website and that of partner institutes to increase outreach both locally, in the subregion and beyond. Most, if not all, knowledge products will be made available in English and local language (Burmese, Khmer, Laos and Vietnamese) to increase readership, particularly among local readers.