COVID-19 and the relative importance of development interventions/priorities

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, I find myself questioning and in some cases, revising some of my long-held views about the relative importance of various development goals or interventions. This is not to say that I had a set of completely stable beliefs about how policymakers, practitioners, and donors should allocate resources prior to the crisis but rather that I assigned more value to certain development priorities/goals relative to others. For example, I believed (and still believe) that for most low-income countries, finding ways to boost agricultural productivity is more important than increasing households’ access to electricity. (I think recent evidence suggests that electricity is essential for business/firm operations but has more muted effects at the household level).

Below is a list of development objectives or interventions that I think I had either undervalued (relative to all others) or alternatively, had not considered prior to COVID-19. I do not yet have a good sense of exactly where these priorities end up in a relative ranking only that they are now higher on the larger list of priorities than they were previously.  


– Government to person (G2P)  payments infrastructure

– Access to fast internet/connectivity

– Cash Transfers (and digital infrastructure to make transfers)

– Interventions that bolster the security of food supply chains (and food security, more generally)

Not Considered Prior to COVID-19

– Pandemic preparedness/planning

– Politically independent public health authorities

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