Digital Socio-Economic Impact Assessment


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on health, social, economic and environmental systems. Against this backdrop, decision makers require flexible, rapid and evidence-based diagnostic tools to inform crucial interventions and policy decisions. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has developed the Digital Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) to provide governments with comprehensive and timely information for evidence-based decision-making in responding to the needs of affected populations and enterprises in the immediate, medium and long-term.

Digital SEIA is an end-to-end rapid digital toolkit based on an open-source primary data collection software that enables governments to embrace digital transformation for evidence-based policymaking and digital governance solutions. The toolkit harnesses the power of various cutting-edge data collection, visualization and analysis systems, including KoBo Toolbox and Microsoft PowerBI, to strengthen countries' analytical capabilities. It also helps to address the needs of the most vulnerable groups in a timely and accurate manner, thanks to georeferenced information with true added value for rapid evidence-based policymaking. 


Click the icons below to interact with a simulation of data collected from the survey.

Digital SEIA can be adapted to meet various objectives for data collection and visualization and supports multiple languages for both data collection and analysis, making it flexible and cost-effective. The toolkit builds on multiple components that bring complementary insights to inform decision makers on targeted policy interventions and may be integrated with rapid humanitarian and recovery assessments, such as COVID-19 Recovery Needs Assessments (CRNA) in addition to other assessments with medium and long-term horizons.   

The toolkit allows analyses at the macro, meso, and micro levels by combining secondary data reviews, harnessing the power of data science and leveraging innovative data sources including Big Data and satellite imagery. Household and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) surveys have been tailored to specific national objectives and contexts. These includes informal sector surveys, household-enterprise surveys, and smallholder farmers surveys. 



Rather than being a one-time exercise in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the toolkit lays the foundations for longitudinal studies that facilitate better real-time monitoring of vulnerabilities and assessments of the impact of COVID-19 over time and inform course corrective measures on relief and recovery strategies. This allows a high return on investment for UNDP and its national and international partners. 

In its current form, the toolkit engages over 700 UNDP practitioners across 50+ Country Offices and continues to expand its outreach daily. 

Digital SEIA has recently achieved noteworthy recognition in being selected for the 2020 Paris Peace Forum as a project that offers concrete solutions to some of the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with regard to global governance, economic resilience and digital solutions. 



“Leaving no one behind” and “reaching the furthest behind first” approach  


In facilitating primary data collection from Households and MSMEs, Digital SEIA has a strong focus on vulnerable populations and enterprises, enabling multidimensional analyses of deprivations and intersecting inequalities.

Through the design of targeted surveys, the toolkit recognizes and prioritizes the needs of the world’s poorest populations and provides evidence for targeted relief measures and recovery strategies. Digital SEIA also features strong gender, building-back-better, and building-back-greener elements that provide decision makers with relevant data for comprehensive and effective solutions to drive change in moments of crisis.

Specific attention has been given to refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), migrants, populations residing within informal settlements and rural areas, as well indigenous peoples, by means of Households SEIAs. Similarly, the vulnerabilities of micro- and small enterprises, household-enterprises, and the informal economy are given attention in the context of Digital SEIAs on MSMEs.


SEIA Integration


1. Macro and Meso Integration:

  • Digital SEIAs can be integrated with CRNAs that are adapted for COVID-19 Recovery from the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPBA) methodologies. This enables greater flexibility and a simple approach to assessing and planning a quick response to the pandemic, including the need for ongoing preparedness. 

2. Micro Level Integration:

  • Digital SEIA Household surveys are generally nation-wide but can also target specific population groups within a country or region (e.g., indigenous groups, rural households, informal settlements).

  • Digital SEIA MSME surveys target formal or informal microenterprises as well as small and medium businesses.

  • Specific smallholder agriculture surveys have been developed to encapsulate the specificities of rural economies as well as the rural-urban continuum.


Remote training and implementation


Despite logistical constraints concerning the challenges of global implementation and inability to travel, in addition to the severe deficit of time in preparing the toolkit and operationalizing groundwork, two extraordinarily successful Digital SEIA trainings took place in April 2020. These were designed to deliver an interactive learning and knowledge-sharing experience to UNDP Country Offices, Headquarters, and Regional Hubs. At its outset, the project engaged 400+ registered participants across over 70 registered countries, while 160 participants across 65 countries participated within a single live training session.


403 registered participants



countries registered



participants at the live training



countries participated in the training


Remote Support Unit 


To roll out the toolkit in a fast-paced and effective fashion, UNDP established a Remote Support Unit (RSU) to provide online direct technical support to UNDP country offices and counterparts on the planning and implementation of their digital assessments. Stationed in various countries worldwide, the RSU team continues to provide vital insights, alongside practical and logistical support to participating country offices as they design, implement, analyze and report on each Digital SEIA.

Comprised of 15+ members, the RSU has a regional focus and offers targeted technical support with local language and contextual knowledge across five regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States, Africa, and the Arab States. The team includes experts in Information Management, Development Economics, Statistics, Data analysis, Systems and Technologies, and Partnerships.