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Research Tools, Resources and Reports
The Tea Leaf Center | Issue #21
As shutdowns everywhere drag on, the Tea Leaf Center is entering a period of low activity. We’re working from home – including some interesting work monitoring the COVID-19 response in Myanmar – and expect our activities to be minor over the next few months.

We are working on an online-based version of our popular Writing for Research and Advocacy course, and will update you on when that is available.

Meanwhile, we wish everyone health, patience and solidarity. Please feel free to reach out if you need any research support or advice.
*Photos from past trainings because I miss training.
Resources and Tools
While we’re all adjusting to whatever “new normal” is unfolding in your area, there has been a noticeable pivot in the development, human rights and humanitarian fields to focus on COVID-19. While much of the response is health-related, there is also a pressing need for social research on the many impacts and inequalities of the various COVID-19 responses around the world. While the Tea Leaf Center does not advocate dropping all other priorities to focus on COVID-19, it’s worth thinking about how your existing work and priorities may be relevant to responding to this crisis – and what we can learn now to respond to future crises.

To start off, Deborah Lupton’s article “Social Research for a COVID and Post-COVID World” does a good job of explaining the importance of social research, and lists many general research questions to get you started thinking.
Innovations for Poverty Action (and partners) have set up an online database of research projects planned or ongoing related to COVID-19. While it lists very few projects in Southeast Asia, it is interesting to see what people are researching. It also made me wonder … wouldn’t it be nice to have such an accessible database for all research happening in a given country? There is also a page of funding opportunities and, most interesting for nerds like me, a questionnaire repository that would be a great jumping-off point for any COVID-19 related research you’re planning.
“Social research is again urgently needed to document people’s everyday experiences of living in this moment, how different countries and governments are addressing the pandemic and what social changes are occurring now or will be happening in the post-COVID world. Social researchers need to be contributing to understandings of how people have been affected by living in the pandemic, both physically and mentally, and what measures and policies have been most effective and helpful.”

-Deborah Lupton,SHARP Professor and leader of the Vitalities Lab, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney
Finally – don’t forget your own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of your team! CIVICUS has put together a useful set of recommendations for civil society to support their team and partners during COVID-19. In an industry where we often push ourselves hard for the sake of those we work with, it’s a good reminder to take care of ourselves – and the responsibility we have to staff and partners.
Civil Society Research Outputs
The Burmese Migrant Workers’ Education Committee (BMWEC) published a situational analysis of migrant schools and teachers along the Thai-Myanmar border. While mostly relevant for those working in migrant education, its results about the proportion of teachers and students’ families who have returned to Myanmar, and the current challenges of migrants who remain in Thailand, are an interesting snapshot of the impact of COVID restrictions on migrants.

Open, accessible data is crucial in the times of pandemic. The Ananda in Myanmar have a collection of open datasets on GitHub with information on hospital readiness, community quarantine facilities, baseline data and other topics.

The situation of prisoners in Myanmar has become even more dire with the threat of COVID-19 in the crowded and unsanitary conditions. Despite a large pardon of prisoners in mid-April, no political prisoners were released. Athan and Fortify Rights released a timely report on student protesters currently imprisoned in Myanmar, “Our Demands are For All Students”. It’s a compelling and detailed account of the students’ experiences at the hands of law enforcement and at trial.
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