Myanmar - COVID–19 Monitorıng : Community Assessment
Cho Cho Win
Khin Myo Wai
Natacha Caroline Lemasle
Summary, in English
This report represents the main findings from the first round of village-level community assessment of the economic and social impacts monitoring of COVID-19 in Myanmar. A total of 224 individuals (four per village, selected for their knowledge of the situation of the village, and representativity of key sub-groups), were interviewed across 56 villages, in two townships in every state and region across the country. All interviews were conducted by phone in July 2020 and lasted approximately one hour each. The below findings are a snapshot of the situation as of July 2020, prior to the surge in case numbers in late August, at a time when many travel restrictions were lifted, and the official number of COVID-19 cases was around 350. Myanmar reported the country’s first cases of COVID-19 in late March 2020, followed shortly thereafter by confirmation of community transmission. In the following months, though testing was initially extremely limited, the Ministry of Health and Sports responded with robust contact tracing and implemented strict quarantine protocols for travelers entering Myanmar from abroad (primarily Myanmar citizens returning home), and for domestic and international cross-border migrants returning to their villages. Restrictions on domestic and international travel, as well as curfews and closures of businesses and schools, were implemented across the country before they were relaxed in June and July 2020. In April 2020, the Union government issued the COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan, which included steps taken by the government to control transmission and mitigate the economic and social impacts of both the virus and measures implemented to control its spread. Assistance from the Union government included provision of foodstuffs to poorer households, a moratorium on debt collection, a one-time cash payment to households in need, and a top-up in existing cash transfer programs targeting pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly. Respondents indicated that fear of contamination was by far the main concern of villagers. However, evidence suggests that adherence to social distancing measures and government regulations waned over time. Compliance with government instructions was higher during the early stages of the pandemic response following the discovery of the virus in Myanmar. The community-level assessment investigates the impacts of COVID-19 in six focus areas: (i) health and behavior; (ii) livelihoods and migration; (iii) coping mechanisms; (iv) social relations; (v) leadership; and (vi) aid. In addition, the research was designed around several factors (markers), that may contribute to either deepening or mitigating the impacts of the pandemic.