Resilient Livelihoods
and Ecosystems

Systems Approaches to Foster Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems

Why Resilient Livelihoods and Ecosystems

In an era of global transformation with overlapping and more frequent environmental, social and economic shocks and disasters, livelihoods and ecosystems, especially those in the Global South, are becoming increasingly fragile. How do we foster resilience in the face of these co-occurring shocks and complexity? At DPA our response is to improve evidence, knowledge and tools for policy-making at the nexus of crisis, conflict and climate change to strengthen the capacity of communities and ecosystems to cope with change and continue to develop.

“External shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic have a ripple effect on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable. ILO estimated a pandemic-related decline in earnings for informal workers of up 82% in low and lower-middle-income countries; and according to the WFP, 270 million people may have fallen into acute food insecurity by the end of 2020.” (UNHCR, 2021)


DPA leverages mixed-methods data collection and analyses, evaluations, AI-based modeling, and participatory approaches for contextualized action-plans to strengthen resilience and produce stronger social protection systems.


Product 1

Crisis Impact Evaluations

Product 2

Vulnerability and Exclusion Assessments

Product 3

Future of Livelihoods Lab

Crisis Impact Evaluations

Assessing the Socioeconomic Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture, Food Security, Livelihoods, and Food Systems in Liberia

With the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liberia and the European Union, and in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, DPA assessed the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on agriculture, food security, livelihoods, and food systems in this country. The report combined key insights from the literature with primary and secondary data source analysis (including the use of microsimulations, multiple regression analysis, and key informant interviews). DPA designed a specific methodological framework to analyze the COVID-19 impacts from a holistic perspective.

Mental Health and Gender Inequality in the MENA Region: An Analysis of Shock Related Factors Within the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Economic Research Forum (ERF), DPA produced a research paper investigating the potential associations between the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 on the gendered mental health inequalities in the MENA region. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach, based on a thorough literature review, and the analysis of quantitative data via the application of the Oaxaca-Blinder (OB) decomposition model. The results of this study were used to produce a policy paper with targeted recommendations to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on women’s mental health, as well as to improve their social and economic well-being.

Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of COVID-19 and the Role of Disaster Risk Governance in the Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin

In partnership with the UNDP Regional Office and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), DPA and ADE conducted assessments of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the role of disaster risk governance (DRG) in seven countries of the Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin (Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal). The study analyzed the impacts of the pandemic on macroeconomic health, human development, political governance, peace, and social cohesion, as well as the role of DRG institutions at the regional and national levels. The assessment utilized mixed methods with qualitative and quantitative data collection to produce seven country-level analyses, a regional comparative study, and a policy brief.

Leveraging Big Data Sources for COVID-19 Response, Policy Evaluation and Analysis in Lebanon and Jordan

Following an initial collaboration with UN ESCWA for the assessment “Leveraging Behavioral and Humanitarian Data Sources to Analyze the Development Challenges Faced by Syrian Refugees and Host Communities in Lebanon”, this project focused on utilizing non-traditional Big Data sources, such as social media and Google search data, to provide timely insights in crisis settings on key topics (economic indicators, access to food, sentiments around specific policies, etc). The DPA team collaborated closely with the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS) of Lebanon and the Department of Statistics (DoS) of Jordan and held several trainings and workshops around the project output.

Rapid Assessment of COVID-19 Impact and Roadmap for Recovery in Liberia

In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ADE, the objective of this project was to conduct a rapid assessment of the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (and its mitigation measures) in Liberia. The study was produced as part of a project analyzing the implications of COVID-19 on pre-existing macro and micro-economic, human development and governance vulnerabilities. Based on the findings of the rapid assessment and in partnership with the UN Country Team in Liberia, a set of recommendations were developed to chart the roadmap for the short and long-term recovery process to build back better leaving no one behind. This rapid assessment study aimed to provide the necessary evidence and inputs to inform and guide the relevant COVID-19 interventions and response efforts of the UN agencies, the Government and other development partners.

Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of COVID-19 in Equatorial Guinea

In partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), ADE, and following the formal request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this project aimed to evaluate the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country. Through rapid macroeconomic and fiscal analysis, sectoral analysis (agriculture, tourism, ICT, education and health) and analysis of socioeconomic vulnerability and expected impacts of the crisis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), DPA produced a report with key recommendations to help the country recover and reduce vulnerability (applicable to subregions). DPA’s work focused on understanding the effects of COVID-19 and coordinating a response based on 5 pillars: 1) putting health first; 2) protecting people through social protection and basic services; 3) promoting social cohesion and community resilience; 4) supporting the macroeconomic response, and 5) fostering multilateral collaboration. All with the objective of advancing towards the SDGs, with the premise of leaving no one behind.

Rapid Assessment of COVID-19 Impacts During the Pandemic in Togo [Analyse synthétique des effets principaux de la COVID au Togo]

In order to identify the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Togo, in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ADE, Data-Pop Alliance offered a synthetic analysis of the main impacts of the crisis in the country with a focus on the sector’s development priorities before the pandemic, using the most recent analyzes, studies and more recent data. The aim of this analysis was to examine both quantitative and qualitative data available from the country; focusing on economy (SMEs and informal sector), social protection, basic services, food security; all with a transversal gender perspective. Particularly, the project’s report examined the situation before COVID-19 and identified its main effects and impacts; examined the content and conclusions of studies carried out on the impact of COVID-19, and raised the limits and / or potential deviations; analyzed how the limits in classical data can be complemented by data from alternative sources.

To read the report, click the button below (Available in French)


The second part of this project focused specifically on conducting a mobility analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic in Togo. During this crisis, the Togolese government decided to introduce mobility restriction measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The resulting analysis used innovative data sources to characterize the changes in mobility patterns that followed the introduction of these measures. In this case, mobility data from Google and Facebook was used to measure changes during and after the implementation of mobility restrictions; between February 15 and August 9, 2020 in each of the regions in Togo. In general, this study aimed to (i) characterize the changes in mobility over time by type of mobility, in particular in residential areas and towards workplaces, (ii) present the changes in mobility that have products after curfew relief and lifting, and (iii) understand mobility interconnections between regions. Limitations, assumptions and recommendations are formulated based on the observations.

To read the report, click the button below (Available in French)

Socioeconomic Assessment of the Impacts and Implications of COVID-19 in South Sudan

With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in partnership with ADE, this paper assessed both the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic in the country and identified implications for the donor community, including the UN System. First it looked at macroeconomic and fiscal prospects, noting a dearth of options in the absence of sustained structural changes; then at the effects of COVID-19 on human development; the virus’ interplay with peacebuilding and state-building dynamics; and lastly, assessments of possible ways forward are discussed.

Policy Paper “Using Data to Fight COVID-19 – And Build Back Better”

Building on the first publication “Sharing is Caring: Four Key Requirements for Sustainable Private Data Sharing and Use for Public Good”, this paper (also developed in partnership with the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications) looks at how digital technologies and data have been applied to fight the Coronavirus. It summarizes the main debates and questions around these initiatives and reflects on their usefulness, implications, limitations, risks and requirements to fight COVID-19 and “build back better”, fairer, and more sustainable human systems.

Leveraging Big Data Sources to Map Demographic Impacts of COVID-19 in Maldives

In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Maldives and working closely with the National Bureau of Statistics of Maldives, this project sought to leverage Big Data sources, such as the mobile phone records (CDRs) and official statistics (household surveys) to provide data and study the effects of COVID-19 mobility restrictions on the population dynamics and mobility in the country. The study also analyzed the intricate relationships between attitudes, actual behavior and socioeconomic background in the Maldives by combining NBS survey data with movement patterns in a privacy-preserving manner. One of the main objectives of the project was to set a new benchmark for innovative application of mobile phone analytics in the region and beyond as a way to address population needs and monitor the impacts of shocks and stressors. The outputs of this projects included an analysis and policy paper with recommendations synthesizing key insights on the population dynamics obtained through CDR analysis and outlining applications towards advancement of 5 SDGs; and a capacity building toolkit and ‘how-to” guide for using innovative data analytics methodologies, collection and analysis of alternative sources of data.

Vulnerability and Exclusion Assessments

Supporting the Development of Comprehensive and Responsive Social Protection Systems for the Resilience of Vulnerable Households

In partnership with Prosperia (Lead) and with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), this project aims to create both preventive and responsive social protection systems against climate shocks and natural disasters in four Latin American countries: Barbados, Colombia, Honduras and Uruguay. An analysis of pertinent data sources will be conducted, followed by the development of a plan to access these data. Data science models will be built based on a strong methodological approach consisting of five modules: 1) population mapping, 2) analysis of socioeconomic and material vulnerabilities, 3) segmentation of the territories according to their ex-ante risk to climate change shocks and natural disasters, 4) incidence or intensity mapping of the ex-post risk, and 5) development of the preventive and responsive social protection systems.

Production of UNDP’s Resilient Livelihoods and Economic Recovery (LER) Approaches and Solutions in Fragile, Crisis and Post-Crisis Settings

This project, funded by UNDP, will support the Recovery Solutions and Human Mobility team in its conceptualisation of a new approach, articulating the Livelihoods and Economic Recovery offer, and reviewing, updating and documenting policies, programmes and tools on livelihoods and economic recovery that meet the current and future needs and expectations of UNDP Country Offices and partners in fragile contexts, crisis and post-crisis situations, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criteria: An Interactive Decision Support System

Criteria, a project led by Prosperia with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and support from Data-Pop Alliance, is an interactive decision support system that empowers policy-makers to explore, analyze, and take decisions on the basis of a large number of potential designs and targeting schemes for social policies. Criteria uses microsimulations on survey and administrative data to visualize the expected poverty impact of policy alternatives resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as their associated costs.

Big Data to Address Global Development Challenges (Paper Series)

Four research papers were developed in collaboration with and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) between 2016 and 2019 under a joint program with Data-Pop Alliance and research partners (Cloud to Street, Flowminder, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab) titled “Strengthening the evidence-base for leveraging Big Data to address global development challenges”. This research program and papers were designed with the following objectives and criteria in mind: to focus on various development challenges in different local contexts in order to ensure relevance; to work with trusted partners, so as to ensure academic quality; and to both reflect and promote key determinants of sustainable development, including smoother, fairer and safer access to data and stronger links between analysts, local decision-makers, and communities. Individually, these papers outlined specific cases and examples of how computational analysis of behavioral data (combined with other datasets) can paint a finer-grained, more complex and dynamic picture of human reality than ‘traditional’ data allows. Collectively, they sketched the contours of a world where public decisions, in the form of policies and programs, may someday be designed, implemented, and evaluated using the best available data and approaches.

Future of Livelihoods Lab

Study of the Drivers of Sustainable and Inclusive Development (DoD) in Liberia
Climate-Induced Migration in Africa and Beyond: Big Data and Predicative Analytics (CLIMB)

In Senegal, as part of a project funded by the Belmont Forum, DPA and its academic and civil society partners will be utilizing “traditional” and “non-traditional” data, including mobile phone data, to understand human mobility induced by extreme weather events. Enabled by OPAL technology, these Call Detail Records (CDRs), provided through a partnership with Orange-Sonatel, will be layered with earth observation (EO), social media, survey, and official statistical data. This holistic approach will allow us to analyze migration processes from a from a multi-stage perspective and gain more insights about the temporality of climate-induced migration.

Assessing Africa’s Borderlands Informal Social Protection Mechanisms in Liberia and Sierra Leone

This study, supported by the UNDP’s Country Offices in Liberia and Sierra Leone, aimed to develop a deep understanding of the existing informal social protection mechanisms and community development needs in the borderlands of Sierra Leone and Liberia. DPA adopted an inductive ethnographic approach consisting of qualitative methods complemented with quantitative data collection to identify borderland community needs and trends, covariate shocks faced and coping mechanisms, as well as the inclusion and exclusion factors. The outputs and findings of the study informed government and UNDP programmatic interventions aimed at strengthening the resilience of these communities.