Using stakeholder dialogues for strengthening evidence use to inform government decision-making during COVID-19: SEDI Learning Brief 4

Publication details

  • Thursday | 09 Sep, 2021
  • Vaqar Ahmed, Ahmed Awais Khaver, Radhika Menon
  • Research Reports,Project Publications
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In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan, like most other countries in the world, has been facing the daunting challenge of addressing a health, economic, and social crisis. The economic- and trade-related costs and shocks in the country have been alarming, and the need to respond at a policy level has been urgent. A survey published by the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (SMEDA) in April 2020 showed that 73% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan had to pause operations when the pandemic struck. The revenue losses due to supply chain disruptions and reductions in export orders also contributed to job losses – around 50% of the 920 businesses polled reported layoffs due to the pandemic.

As both national and provincial governments scrambled to find answers and solutions during the first wave of the pandemic, the demand for evidence to support decision-making on effective responses rose rapidly. The crisis underscored the importance of contextualising global and local evidence, alongside the tacit knowledge of key stakeholders.

The Strengthening Evidence Use for Development Impact (SEDI) programme team in Pakistan, led by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), engaged with agencies in the federal government to explore various options for accessing and discussing existing evidence1 to inform policy responses to the pandemic. The agencies, which included Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce, and SMEDA at the Ministry of Industries and Production, were keen on moving swiftly to shield SMEs (and the trade sector more generally) from the negative impacts of the economic downturn. They were eager to address the sector’s immediate and pressing needs, while also considering measures that could support post-pandemic recovery in the medium term.


Authors: Vaqar Ahmed, Ahmed Awais Khaver, Radhika Menon