At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that poor communities living in high density urban environments across low- and middle-income countries in the Global South would confront the combined effects of COVID-19 and extreme heat. Whilst mitigation measures – such as lock-downs, home quarantines and social distancing – were going to prove difficult for affluent communities who had the means and space to follow them – they looked set to be devastating for communities living in high density informal settlements in urban areas. Mitigation measures looked set to exacerbate already precarious livelihoods by reducing income opportunities and exposing populations to heat stress, by keeping people in poorly insulated and poorly ventilated housing and reducing access to external cooling and hydration infrastructures and services.
Responding to a suggestion from the Red Cross Climate Centre, we developed a rapid research project to fill a critical gaps in our knowledge and understanding of these vulnerabilities, and the interplay with measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19. We secured funding from the Scottish Funding Council’s COVID-19 Urgency Fund to perform a large scale data collection exercise in four cities related to our Cool Infrastructures project: Karachi, Pakistan; Douala, Cameroon; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Hyderabad, India.
In collaboration with our partners in India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Cameroon as well as with input from national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, we assessed and developed the requirements for the survey. We developed a 30-question survey with the aim of providing critical information and resources about the nexus of COVID-19 and extreme heat for poor urban populations in Sub Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. This survey includes filtering questions so that we only reach poor urban populations as well as questions about the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown measures on livelihood, heat stress and access to food/water/health care.
We contracted a commercial survey company, Geopoll, to conduct the survey in two waves in June and July. They collected over 1100 responses in each of the four cities. The survey results present extensive data sets which can be used to evaluate the interplay between COVID-19 measures, heat stress and livelihood for poor and vulnerable populations living in densely populated urban areas. We are currently in the process of analysising the data to generate vital knowledge, learning and tools that can be used to assist health responders, potentially reducing the impact of the virus and/or reducing the burden on health services, as well as unanticipated effects of COVID-19 containment and management protocols.
So that agencies who need the data can make use of it as soon as possible, we have mad the survey tool and the data sets publicly available. They can be downloaded using the links below. We hope that the survey will inspire further studies in these and other locations and circumstances and that the data will support the development of more sensitive COVID-19 measures that take the local circumstances into account.
Remote Survey Instrument: 30 multiple choice questions designed for mobile phone interviews on the nexus of COVID-19 and extreme heat for poor urban populations in the Global South. Available in 4 multi-lingual formats (Filetype: Microsoft Excel .xlxs)
Datasets: Multi-country survey data, including data tables and full survey data for India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Cameroon. Creative Commons 4.0 License. Available in 1 Zip Package (Filetype: Comma Separated Values .csv).