Covid-19 Research

Concern is conducting research in our programme countries to ascertain the impacts the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the world's poorest people. This page will be updated regularly with a series of research reports from Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Somalia.

Waiting area at Digital Booth - Concern Bangladesh in collaboration with local partners, have launched New Digital Booths in Dhaka, for screening and testing of Covid-19.
Waiting area at Digital Booth - Concern Bangladesh in collaboration with local partners, have launched New Digital Booths in Dhaka, for screening and testing of Covid-19. Following a digital consultation with a doctor, patients showing symptoms are guided to a booth where samples are taken to test for Covid-19. The service is free and available daily, except Fridays. Patients will receive results within 48 hours, additional advice and preventative supplies such as masks, if required. Photo: EHD / Concern Worldwide

For this research, Concern has interviewed households, mainly by phone, in order to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and government responses to it, on people's health, livelihoods, and coping strategies. Households will be interviewed at approximately two-week intervals to monitor how this is changing over time.

The reports also outline what Concern is doing in each context to respond to the situation and mitigate the negative affects on the people affected by it.

Research paper 1: Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the first three known cases of Covid-19 were reported on 8 March 2020. On 22 March, a 10-day shutdown effective from the 26th of the month was declared. Subsequently the government asked the army to enforce social distancing strictly, with teams of soldiers deployed across the country, leaving the streets empty in the capital Dhaka and most roadside shops closed. As of 18 June, there were 98,489 reported cases (with 26,853 recorded in Dhaka and 3,809 in Chattogram).

Bangladesh exemplifies the triple blow that many countries have suffered from Covid-19:

  • domestic slowdown caused by the disease and the efforts to contain its spread;
  • a sharp decline in exports, and
  • a drop in remittances

 

In this brief, we report on the experiences of a number of people in Dhaka and Chattogram on the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent response. All are currently included on Concern Worldwide’s Improving the Lives of the Urban Extreme Poor (ILUEP) livelihood programme which is funded by Irish Aid.

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Research paper 2: Malawi

Malawi’s population of 17.6 million is highly susceptible to Covid-19, especially its older population; (5% are aged 60+). HIV prevalence is at 9.2 %, while additional noncommunicable diseases including diabetes, heart problems, and blood pressure make Malawian communities particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. Health system challenges, including insufficient health workers, chronic shortages of essential drugs, and basic medical equipment, means Malawi has limited capacity to deal with any increased burden on health centres, should cases continue to rise.

Covid-19 messages are displayed in words and in images to ensure easy understanding. Lilongwe, Malawi. Photo: Henry Mhango / Concern Worldwide.
Covid-19 messages are displayed in words and in images to ensure easy understanding. Lilongwe, Malawi. Photo: Henry Mhango / Concern Worldwide.

In response to the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Malawi declared a State of National Disaster on 20th March 2020 and launched a National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan on the 8th April, several days after the first cases were confirmed in the country. Early prevention responses from the government included the suspension of all formal meetings, gatherings and conferences, with the president announcing a 21-day lockdown starting Saturday 18 April, that was subsequently reversed to allow for more consultation to prevent harm to the poorest and most vulnerable of society.

At the beginning of May, the Government of Malawi, UN agencies and leading INGOs launched an Emergency Appeal that coordinated organisations’ immediate response to Covid-19, supporting the Government’s preparedness and response efforts through targeting 6.7 million people.

A global pandemic unfolds in different ways in different countries, and while immediate health impacts remain the primary focus of attention in many countries, the secondary impacts on food security, livelihoods, access to basic health services and the longer-term impacts on children’s education and development are increasingly receiving attention.

In this brief, we look at how the response in Malawi has affected some of the poorest households under each of these areas in three geographic locations where Concern Worldwide works.

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This research has been supported by several donors including the Irish Government and the European Union. All opinions expressed are those of the authors. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the Irish Government or the European Union.

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