Offering Research-Based Tools and Information in Response to COVID-19 in Myanmar

Myanmar, alongside the rest of the world, is currently facing huge challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak which is directly affecting the social and economic landscape of the country. The disease is hitting all sorts of sectors from manufacturing, tourism and banking to imports/exports, showing that this pandemic is much more than just a public health issue.

With this in mind, the Institute for Strategy and Policy-Myanmar (ISP-Myanmar) redesigned a COVID-19 Special Program and reallocated some budget from their existing project supported by the Joint Peace Fund (JPF) to advocate to the peace stakeholders and general public.

Executive Director of ISP-Myanmar, U Min Zin said the narrative and policy guiding the country’s fight against COVID-19 must be comprehensive and holistic and serve as not only public health response, but also consider rule of law, socio-economic justice, and conflict management as the challenges relating to this pandemic reach beyond the domain of public health.

“This inclusive approach should be formulated and constantly updated with available comparative data and research findings drawn from both international and domestic sources. An objective of ISP-Myanmar’s COVID-19 program is to advocate for an integrated approach and to mobilize a broad pool of experts and practitioners to brainstorm and look at intervention strategies and policy options,” he said.

ISP-Myanmar will utilize multiple tools to do this, including its Myanmar Quarterly Journal (MMRQ), Yawmingyi Zayat TV Talk Show and leadership engagement programs to undertake research, produce online publications, and provide online/TV broadcasts to reach out to both the general public and policymakers to contribute to the country’s COVID-19 response.

U Min Zin said while social safety nets for the poor and those in the conflict-affected regions remain gravely inadequate, amid an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation over shortages and lockdown, particular groups of people such as IDPs, migrant returnees and the poor are perceived as threats. He noted that this fear and securitization of vulnerable people does not bode well for basic socio-economic justice in the face of a possible rapid spread of this pandemic.

The project will produce bi-weekly online publications of the MMRQ, monthly Yawmingyi Zayat TV talk show via DVB TV and carry out a range of social media and leadership engagement activities with relevant stakeholders.

JPF is currently supporting over 80 organizations across the country, including research organizations supporting research-based peace policy and analysis in Myanmar. In light of the current situation, JPF is closely working with our national implementing partners to preserve the gains toward peace accomplished to date and to look for ways to promote collaboration and common action during this emergency that advances the peace efforts within Myanmar.