IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

Thanks for being patient while the links were on hiatus, we’re back!

  • COVID-19 is obviously on everybody’s mind. For the dev crowd, let’s remember that right now travel from US/Europe to the Southern hemisphere might spread the disease to vulnerable places with much weaker health systems.
    • I apologize for not having it handy, but there was a good thread about how the mental model of the poor countries being the source of diseases may have contributed to U.N. troops bringing cholera to Haiti and discharging their waste into drinking water.
    • The Global Dispatches (formerly UN Dispatch I think) podcast is always very informative. Host Mark Leon Goldberg spoke with Johns Hopkins professor Paul Spiegel who is currently modeling how an outbreak would spread in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh if brought there by outsiders (Apple, transcript here). One aspect of thinking about an outbreak among refugees is the pressure host governments will have to use limited health resources on the native-born population before refugees.
  • How can researchers help? Three suggestions from IPA’s perspective
    • IPA’s Peace and Recovery Program has announced grants of (up to) $50k available off cycle (i.e. now) to study emergency responses in low and middle-income countries, including COVID-19 and is accepting proposals. Please share with colleagues! (and retweet here)
    • When the 2014 Ebola outbreak happened, many research projects were affected, but researchers adapted to integrate questions about Ebola into their research projects. Here’s a great brand new (updated today!) paper from Christensen, Dube, Haushofer, Siddiqi, & Voors, who already had an RCT in progress in Sierra Leone testing if two social accountability interventions improved health care quality in clinics. When the Ebola outbreak hit they adapted their study to incorporate it and found that giving status awards to nurses and community-monitoring of health clinics improved the perceived quality of health care and health care workers. This in turn appears to have led more people to come forward to be tested and treated for Ebola, saving lives.
    • Another group of researchers reactivated a network of phone-based monitoring of food prices from a previous study to monitor prices and potential shortages in areas that were cut off, and quickly fed that back to government and relief agencies so they could move resources into place. If there is an outbreak (or danger of one), do you have data that might help local authorities plan for how to use resources?
  • And if travel is cancelled, here’s some experience on holding a “virtual conference
    • For professors & teachers thinking about transitioning to streaming classes, one professor was recently surprised to learn several of her students didn’t have wi-fi at home, so remember to be sensitive to individuals’ circumstances (sharing slides in advance and using a service that includes a call-in number). For students who need a written interface I’ve heard that Google Hangouts’ live captioning is pretty good (but haven’t experimented extensively. Make sure you don’t have a Swedish accent though).
  • International Women’s Day is on Sunday:
  • And a pretty remarkable story by Greta Thunberg’s mom, excerpted from a new book.

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