Covid-19 Research at J-PAL South Asia

J-PAL affiliates have been undertaking 18 research projects in South Asia (including new research as well as expanding on existing projects) to understand the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown on the region’s most vulnerable populations.

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.

Covid-19 Pilots and Surveys

Short- and Long-term Effects of the Lockdown on Young Rural Migrants from Bihar and Jharkhand

Researchers assessed the short- and long-term effects of the lockdown on labor migrants from Bihar and Jharkhand. Initial phone surveys find that 45...

Aging and Health in India: A Longitudinal Study and an Experimental Platform

Researchers conducted surveys to study the effect of the Covid-19 lockdown on the long-term well-being of elderly individuals in the south Indian...

Covid-19-related Immunization Disruptions in Rajasthan: A Retrospective Observational Study

Researchers studied the effects of India's nationwide lockdown on child immunization in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Comparing the status and...

High Frequency Monitoring of the Covid-19 Response in Delhi

Researchers conducted high-frequency surveys with visitors to government primary health care centers in Delhi to assess how the pandemic has affected...

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.

Figure  1 Distribution of planned and ongoing COVID-19 research projects across states in India*
India map with statewise COVID projects and circle graph break-up of ongoing and planned projects

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.

vial and germ Covid-19 Symptoms dollar bill and coins Cash Transfers
Healthcare Delivery bar graph with downward arrow Economic Shocks
behavior change icon with two people and chat bubbles Behavior Change Communication Government Relief
Migration and Migrant Conditions bar graph with downward arrow Mental Health and Well-being    
Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices, and Beliefs     Education
Gender-based Violence     Food Security
Figure  2 Collaborating partners*
South Asia COVID research partners

Resources

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

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.

  • Access J-PAL South Asia’s plug-in feature for integrating Exotel calls and text messages with a SurveyCTO form here.

*As of February 2021.

This page was last updated on July 15, 2021. For further information, please reach out to Putul Gupta ([email protected]).

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