When we published our last ‘Year in Review’ in February 2020 we could not have imagined the circumstances in which we would find ourselves living and working during 2020-21. By May 2020 the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on many areas of the EDI programme was apparent: almost all EDI staff and researchers were ‘locked down’ and working from home in numerous locations around the globe, almost all fieldwork was halted, events were cancelled, and ways of working changed as the ability to conduct and disseminate primary research was tested. Despite these unprecedented challenges, there have been significant achievements in the EDI programme over the past twelve months.

As the year progressed it became well understood that Covid-19 is much more than a crisis in global health. The effectiveness of policy responses to the pandemic depended – and continues to depend – on institutions which themselves have felt the effects of the pandemic in varying ways; social norms have been both strengthened and challenged, patterns of inequality broken down and exacerbated, and balances of political power destabilised as well as reinforced. To help further understand the institutional aspects of Covid-19, EDI commissioned a series of essays in 2020. To date seven essays have been published on the EDI website covering a range of topics, along with a blog summarising them by OPM Senior Economist, Umar Salam.

Over the past year we have continued to engage actively with government and policy stakeholders to understand better the institutional constraints to development. In June 2020 we published the Bangladesh Institutional Diagnostic, led by Selim Raihan (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Executive Director of SANEM) together with EDI Research Director François Bourguignon. Although an in-person dissemination event wasn’t possible, since its publication SANEM have hosted three thematic webinars based on chapters of the study (banking, Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector, and tax reform). These webinars have provided the opportunity to disseminate findings, discuss the work, and gain reactions and feedback.

During 2020 significant progress has been made in the area of EDI-funded Randomised Control Trials (RCTs). Eight additional RCT working papers have been published on the EDI website this year and impressive policy impact has been seen in relation to several studies:

EDI case studies which focus on institutional change over time have also progressed with nineteen case study working papers published on the EDI website to date and several already being published in academic journals:

In October 2020 we also published the Mozambique Institutional Diagnostic. This final diagnostic study was completed under the leadership of the Principal Investigator Finn Tarp, Professor at the University of Copenhagen and an authority on Mozambique. Following the publication of the diagnostic, a policy engagement and dissemination event took place online and as a small Covid-secure in-person event in Maputo, Mozambique.

The Bangladesh and Mozambique institutional diagnostic studies built on our previous Tanzania and Benin country studies which were published in 2018 and 2019. Over the next twelve months, EDI will continue to progress work on the institutional diagnostic through an in-depth synthesis led by EDI Research Directors Professor François Bourguignon and Professor Jean-Philippe Platteau.

As we head into the final year of EDI activities, all remaining RCTs and case studies will be completed, and a detailed programme synthesis will be undertaken. Whilst the ongoing pandemic restricts in-person meetings, we will continue to host online conferences and webinars to share research findings and discuss policy impact, alongside publishing our regular policy briefs.

To receive up to date news on EDI’s activities, please subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.