The lockdown in South Asia has led to mass migration of people back to their home towns/villages as the work opportunities in urban centres shrink or are no longer available. This poses a public health risk to rural areas as migrants may spread the virus when they return and these areas are ill-prepared to handle the crisis due to poor healthcare infrastructure.
- Lockdowns to stop COVID-19 pushed South Asian migrant workers to return home.
- We predict COVID-19 spread with migration data from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
- We integrate district-day data on confirmed cases with district-level survey data.
- Prior international out-migration predicts COVID-19 spread in India and Pakistan.
- Fighting externalities in one place displaced them to others.
India is vulnerable to both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. To contain the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24. To help alleviate hardships to the poor, the central government also announced a US$23 billion relief package and various state governments have announced relief measures.
More than 1.5 billion students have to stay at home due to COVID-19 school closures, more than 90 percent of total enrolled learners (UNESCO, 04.01.2020). To ensure learning continuity, students have to study at home. However, it is unclear how the students respond to this challenge and if there is a way to improve their lives. Therefore, we conducted a COVID-19 Rapid Response study among current high school students in Ecuador.
- The data show that 59 percent of students have both an internet connection at home and a computer or tablet, 74 percent are engaging in some online or telelearning, and 86 percent have done some school work on the last weekday.
- Detailed time-use data show most students have established similar daily routines around education, although gender and wealth differences emerge in time spent working and on household tasks.
- Closure of schools and social isolation are the two main problems students say they face, and while the majority are mostly happy, 16 percent have mental health scores that indicate depression.
In a globalized world, pandemics transmit impacts through markets. In this study, researchers document employment changes, coping strategies, and welfare of garment factory workers in Ethiopia’s largest industrial park during the early stages of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. Researchers field a phone survey of female workers during a two month period in which cases are rapidly rising globally, but not locally.
- The employment of female workers in Ethiopia’s garment industry has changed dramatically due to a sharp drop in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In the sample, 41 percent of respondents employed in January 2020 were put on leave or terminated by the time of our survey a few months later.
- Migration appears to be a major coping mechanism, but many respondents report barriers. Most who have left the city desire to return if possible.
- Levels of food insecurity are high; rates are higher for those currently still in the city where garment industry jobs are located.
- Respondents are well informed about COVID-19; false beliefs or myths appear to be extremely uncommon.
How do political leader’s words and actions affect people’s behavior? Researchers address this question in the context of Brazil by combining electoral data and geo-localized mobile phone data for more than 60 million devices throughout the entire country.
Population Council is implementing a rapid COVID-19 Knowledge, Attitude and Practice assessment of a representative sample of girls living in the catchment area of two skills-building programs.
- Over 90 percent of adolescent girls correctly reported at least one common symptom; over 80 percent correctly identified that proximity to an infected person is a mode of contagion and that social isolation is a recommended preventive practice for COVID-19.
- Social distancing practices are not widely implemented, despite widespread awareness about the importance of avoiding contact with possibly exposed individuals, because of difficulties in distancing during daily activities.
- The lockdown policy is already having a clear economic impact. A high proportion of respondents reported food and resource scarcity and income loss.
- Many adolescent girls reported an increase in care-burden and household work and experienced the psychosocial impact of stress and isolation.
- Girls are adapting to remote learning. One in four girls are participating in a digital classroom initiative telecasted by the Government of Bangladesh.
COVID-19 has already disrupted community life and will surely alter community social dynamics for years to come. This project aims to identify and track over time citizens’ compliance with COVID-19 mitigation policies and their access to relief services in Kampala, Uganda.
Governments play a key role in combating pandemics, but the success of these efforts crucially depends on the actions taken by individuals. The more citizens trust the government and its law enforcement agencies, the more likely they are to trust the information the government provides during crisis events and comply with government directives. This trust may help reduce the rate of risky health behaviours.
- Compliance with COVID-19 restrictions is strongly positively correlated with trust in government, but only weakly correlated with trust in local authorities or other citizens. The relationship between trust and compliance is especially strong for the Ministry of Health and the police.
- Researchers use a field experiment to show that an intervention designed to improve police–community relations increases trust in the police, but that the effects are small and do not result in greater public health compliance. They conclude that trust is crucial but difficult to change.
This project studies whether a youth empowerment program in Bolivia can reduce the prevalence of violence against girls during the COVID-19 lockdown. The program offers training in soft skills and technical skills, sex education, mentoring, and job-finding assistance. To measure the effects of the program, the study conducts a randomized control trial with 600 vulnerable adolescents. Violence is measured with both direct self-report questions and list experiments.
This project aims to understand the public response, and health and socioeconomic impacts, of lockdown in Colombia. On March 16, 2020, people in Colombia began self-isolating as part of a voluntary quarantine. On March 20, the Bogotá and Antioquia regions started a simulacrum, and finally, on March 25, the government announced new actions to control COVID-19.
- 98% think that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious problem in Colombia.
- 90% are concerned that someone in their family will get COVID-19.
- 88% are concerned that someone in their family may have an emergency and not receive medical care.
- 46% believe they will likely get infected under the current Colombian government measures.
- 92% of adults reported taking at least one of the following measures to protect themselves from the COVID-19 infection:
- 85% of senior citizens (60 years and older) voluntarily isolated or complied with government's mandatory isolation measures.
- 82% cut down on their mobility (avoided going out, using public transportation, and traveling).
- 79% of those showing symptoms voluntarily isolated themselves and complied with government
- isolation measures.
- 78% increased the frequency in which they use disinfectants, alcohol, and sanitizing gel, and how
- often they wash their hands.
- 73% refrained from going out to social events and crowded places.
- 70% avoided kissing and shaking hands.
- 69% immediately complied with the government's mandatory preventive isolation measures.
- 63% avoided using public transportation.
- 46% went into self-isolation (voluntary quarantine) before the government decreed it.
- 32% started working from home.
To control the spread of COVID-19 in India and to aid the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), the Population Council is conducting research to assess residents’ ability to follow sanitation and social distancing guidelines under a countrywide lockdown, as well as understand the health and economic impacts of this policy.
In the sprawling informal peripheries of cities throughout the developing world, enhancing state capacity may be critical for an effective COVID response, and hence to macro-level public-health, economic, and political outcomes. In Medellín, Colombia, most neighborhoods are occupied by one of roughly 400 criminal gangs. The researchers have a three-year ongoing study in the city dedicated to understanding and reshaping state and gang rule.
According to the 2019 FinAccess survey, 8.4 percent of mobile money users in Kenya report having lost funds on their mobile money accounts—and 70 percent of these cases were due to third-party phone or SMS fraud. Yet no one has unpacked why certain consumers suffer from fraud, nor why they often don’t use formal complaints channels when they suffer loss of funds or fraud.
- More educated and better off segments are more likely to report experiencing challenges. Further research is needed on why this discrepancy exists and if targeted outreach is needed to particular DFS user populations.
- Attempted scams are common—although consumers are aware and cautious. The strategies consumers use for avoiding scams could form the basis of consumer education campaigns for other consumers who may not be as aware or vigilant to protect themselves.
- 57% of respondents have experienced attempted scams or fraud since COVID-19 began.
- Consumers are generally price aware of the mobile money and digital credit products they use. However, pre-transaction disclosures could be made more salient.
- Price is not a leading factor in choice of providers, and borrowers generally do not know the prices of lenders they do not use. Interventions may be needed to improve consumer awareness of the range of choices in DFS to encourage comparison shopping and switching.
- Consumers may be borrowing from one lender to repay another, or taking on additonal debt when already in a situation of debt stress.
- New monitoring tools could be developed to monitor the market for warning signs of overindebtedness in the digital credit market through indicators such as multiple borrowing, late and non-payment, and outcomes from borrowing. This could include a combination of consumer survey data like the questions asked in this survey and administrative data from digital credit providers.
- Reducing information assymmetries through greater information sharing across digital credit providers could help improve consumer switching and reduce multiple borrowing and related non-payment of debts.
Sub-Saharan Africa contains many densely overcrowded and poor urban slums at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. In these contexts, sanitation and social distancing measures are near impossible, and COVID-19’s rapid spread is a devastating prospect. To control the pandemic’s spread, the Kenyan Ministry of Health COVID-19 Taskforce has implemented initial prevention and mitigation measures.
- Women are more likely than men to report increased household tension, arguing and household violence due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, in particular those ages 25-34.
- Women are twice as likely to take on more unpaid domestic work such as cooking, cleaning and childcare compared to men due to Coronavirus. About half of both men and women reported this increase in domestic work has had a negative impact on their ability to earn money.
- While women were earning less than their male partners prior to COVID-19, this gap has been widened due to the pandemic. Half of women, compared to a third of men, report earning nothing due to coronavirus. Of those in a partnership, 44% say both they and their partner are earning less now.
- In general, men have more full control over a range of decision-making areas – from leaving the house to working to household purchases. This decision making power between men and women in the household does not appear to have been changed by COVID-19.
- 4 out of 5 women do not currently want to get pregnant. About half of women were using contraception in March before COVID-19, and almost all (86%) were still using the same method (mainly injectables and implants, therefore perhaps they have not yet needed to renew their methods during COVID-19). Of those using the same method as in March, 18% had experienced a challenge accessing their method. Women who started a new method since Coronavirus said it was because now is not the time to get pregnant. The main reason given for not using any method is not being sexually active (73%).
Researchers measured the impacts of the COVID lockdowns on well-being using monthly phone surveys with households as well as with food vendors in local markets. The surveys were implemented as part of an ongoing evaluation of a large unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program, and data collection started well before the global onset of COVID-19, and has continued throughout the pandemic.
- In both countries, market activity was severely disrupted and researchers observe large declines in income among market vendors.
- But there was no evidence of declines in food security for households in the short run.
- Even though no adverse effects of the lockdowns on food security were observed among the control group, cash transfers improved dietary quality and quantity over the low levels observed at baseline.
In this project, researchers conducted a field experiment with female entrepreneurs who have borrowed from a microfinance organization in Punjab, Pakistan. They tested whether an intervention that exposes women to successful role models, and encourages goal setting, planning and the overcoming of obstacles can foster investments in female businesses.
Social distancing is one of the most important health behaviors limiting the spread of COVID‐19, but people may practice it insufficiently for multiple reasons: they may not believe or realize that community norms have shifted towards support for social distancing, and they may not realize its public health benefits. This project is supporting Mozambique’s effort to promote social distancing, in collaboration with the government’s health research center for the central region.
- Household income has dropped by 33% on average since the onset of the pandemic, and 72% of households are food insecure.
- Respondents show high support for social distancing, but often underestimate their community’s average support for social distancing.
- Respondents have uneven knowledge about COVID-19 and the government’s pandemic response, giving correct answers to some questions but showing poor knowledge in other areas.
- Households report following major COVID-19 health recommendations, but also high rates of some false beliefs and non-preventive behaviors, such as meeting up with friends and spraying alcohol or chlorine on the body.
- Household income has dropped more than 50% from February 2020, before the onset of the pandemic, to September 2020. 71% of households remain food insecure.
- Respondents’ perception of their community’s support for social distancing has improved over time, but still underestimates their community’s true support for social distancing.
- Respondents’ knowledge about COVID-19 has improved over time, especially with regard to the government’s pandemic response, and preventative knowledge.
- TV and radio are the two most common sources of COVID-19 information. Over time, respondents report hearing about COVID-19 more from religious leaders and NGOs, and less from WhatsApp and ATM messages.
- 30% of households are taking on additional paid labor to cope with the economic impacts of COVID-19, the majority of whom are men.
- 28% of households have intensified agricultural production since the onset of the pandemic to manage food insecurity, the majority of whom are women.
- Despite their own hardships, 35% of all households provided donations or support for other struggling families.
- Households describe learning losses as a result of school closures, with 90% reporting that their child learned less this school year and 68% wanting their children to retake their current grade.
The InterMedia Financial Inclusion Insights Surveys have consistently shown Uganda to have the highest levels of consumer fraud in mobile money amongst countries surveyed in Africa and Asia. These surveys have also documented insufficient consumer use of formal complaints channels.
- Substantial differences in challenges reported by more educated and better-off segments raises questions regarding why these discrepancies exists.
- Further research is needed to understand why this difference exists and if some segments truly experience less challenges.
- Only 40% of customers experiencing financial loss who complained had their issue resolved—a concern given the significance of these challenges which requires further investigation into why these issues go unresolved.
- Resolution rates are low for many DFS challenges. Redress mechanisms may not be working well for some consumers.
- Attempted scams are common with DFS users in Uganda. However, most consumers do not fall for these scams.
- 47% of respondents have experienced attempted scams or instances of attempted fraud since March 2020.
Agent overcharging is a common challenge, yet most consumers do not report this via formal channels.
- How can providers enforce official fee rates and encourage consumers to refuse to pay extra fees?
- Low levels of competition seen in mobile money and digital credit may require policies to encourage greater consumer choice in market.
- Price is key factor in digital credit, but only third factor in mobile money. Should price be a more important factor in consumer choice?
We will conduct a survey of digital finance users—active and dormant— across Nigeria. The survey will cover active and dormant users of electronic payments products, mobile banking products, agent banking, and digital credit. Users of these products will be queried on key consumer protection topics including: Pricing transparency; Fraud; Experiences at agent locations; Complaints handling and redress.
- Extra or unclear fees and charges were experienced by consumers across the different DFS products and channels. This signals there may be common challenges of extra or hidden fees, and/or consumers not understanding fully the terms of the products they use in DFS.
- Review of digital interfaces and improved standards on digital disclosure of product terms and charges could help address hidden fees.
Particular attention should be paid to experiences with agents, as there are indications of extra fees being applied. Addressing these charges could likely take three approaches:
- Improved monitoring and enforcement of fee structures.
- Revised incentive and commission structures where they may lead to extra charges and fees.
- Greater consumer awareness of official fees and encouragement to resist paying extra charges or switching of agents used—agent proximity appears a strong driver in choice of agents.
There is less likelihood for lower-income and lower-education consumers to use formal redress channels when problems arise. This raises concerns about consumers’ sense of agency, and equal use of rights to redress across Nigeria’s DFS population.
- More research is needed to understand the causes of these discrepancies.
- Once causes are identified, possible solutions could be tested to increase use of formal redress channels by under-represented populations.
- Even when issues relate to digital products, consumers default to in-person resolution channels. However, these channels do not appear to be substantially more effective than remote channels like call centers. Is this an inefficiency that could be improved upon to reduce in-person complaints traffic?
- Poor redress impacts usage. One-third of those with unresolved challenges reduced or shifted their DFS usage as a result. Poor redress is a risk to inclusion and DFS growth and so improving resolution rates should be a priority for the entire DFS sector.
- Fraud and phishing attempts primarily focus on obtaining account or personal information.
- 13% of those targeted responded to a scam, and one-third of those followed the scammers instructions. This raises concerns about consumer susceptibility to scams. Industry and regulators could test targeted interventions to the most susceptible populations to see if this can reduce success rates of fraudsters.
- 51% of respondents have experienced attempted scams or fraud since COVID-19 began.
- For both mobile money and mobile banking, cost was not a leading factor for choice of provider.
- Provider reputation and linkage to existing mobile or bank accounts are leading factors in mobile money and mobile banking, while proximity is key factor for agents.
- Lack of importance of price and the linkages of DFS choice to existing services raise concerns for consumer switching and price-based competition.
The federal and regional governments in Ethiopia have set up a number of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Schools have been closed, social gatherings banned and restrictions on vehicle movement have been imposed. While these actions are expected to slow the spread of the virus, they may have substantial adverse effects on food and nutrition security.