Covid-19 Research at J-PAL South Asia
Update (July 15, 2021): While in-person research activities had resumed in a phased manner in December 2020, following an unprecedented rise in Covid-19 infections in India, J-PAL South Asia had suspended all field research in April 2021.
In July 2021, after a period of a steady decline in active Covid-19 cases across the country, J-PAL South Asia is undertaking a careful and gradual resumption of in-person field activities under strict safety protocols. After closely monitoring statistics on the prevalence of Covid-19 cases across states, field research will resume only in areas where the case count meets the threshold for carrying out research operations while minimizing the risks borne by the community and field staff. In areas where cases have not sufficiently declined, research activities will continue to be on hold or conducted remotely, using phone surveys.
J-PAL South Asia continues to monitor district-level statistics and local government guidelines daily and has mechanisms in place for projects to pause field work or transition back to remote work in the event of a renewed surge in cases. Strict safety protocols continue to be followed in all areas of operation, keeping the safety and well-being of staff and the wider community paramount.
Distribution of Projects
Rapid research is being conducted not only with the goal of testing policy solutions, but also of sharing actionable insights with decision-makers to inform their response to the pandemic and its socioeconomic ramifications.
Operations for 18 studies, spread across 170 districts in ten Indian states and union territories, have been underway since March 2020 and are supported by a team of 400 enumerators who have been trained remotely. Surveys are being conducted using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) with nearly 150,000 respondents to understand the various facets of the pandemic affecting vulnerable populations who include diabetics and dialysis patients; migrant workers; school and college dropouts; frontline health workers; farmers; elderly populations; ultra-poor women; and individuals who require psychosocial support.
Research Themes and Partners
In response to the challenges posed by Covid-19, lockdown measures, and to better understand their far-reaching implications for life in the region, research is being conducted along various dimensions, in close coordination with our partners.
|Covid-19 Symptoms||Cash Transfers|
|Healthcare Delivery||Economic Shocks|
|Behavior Change Communication||Government Relief|
|Migration and Migrant Conditions||Mental Health and Well-being|
|Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices, and Beliefs||Education|
|Gender-based Violence||Food Security|
J-PAL South Asia has developed resources to adapt to the changing requirements of data collection, monitoring, and quality control protocols, while working closely with technology and network partners.
Contactless Data Collection
- Resources for adapting to phone surveys during COVID-19 (Saurabh Bhajibhakare, Putul Gupta, Sarah Kopper)
- Transitioning to CATI Checklist (Saurabh Bhajibhakare, Ambika Chopra, Putul Gupta, and Mustufa Patel)
Call-Masking Plug-in for SurveyCTO
To allow for a smooth transition from field to phone surveys while complying with the social distancing norms, J-PAL South Asia collaborated with technology partners to build a call-masking plug-in that enables enumerators to use their own phones while ensuring the privacy of both parties.
- Safety First: Collecting Data and Protecting People in a Global Pandemic, hosted by SurveyCTO, with Tithee Mukhopadhyay
- Collecting high quality data in phone surveys during a pandemic, hosted by National Data Quality Forum, with Tithee Mukhopadhyay
- How J-PAL and IPA use SurveyCTO plug-ins for phone surveys, hosted by SurveyCTO, with Saurabh Bhajibhakare