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Prof. Dr. Klaus Schlichte
Prof. Dr. Klaus Schlichte
In a podcast interview, Klaus Schlichte looks at the Covid-19 pandemic in African countries and the measures taken by governments.

"There are differences between countries, but repressive policies are the dominant ones," says Klaus Schlichte with regard to the governmental reactions to the spread of the novel corona virus in Africa. In many countries there are curfews, he says, which are massively enforced by the police, at least in the cities. What may seem necessary from an epidemiological point of view, however, also has negative consequences: "By stopping traffic, there are apparently already crises in the supply of food to the urban population," says Schlichte. If there were to be permanent increases in food prices, hunger riots would be a great danger. Even before the pandemic, many people in African cities could hardly afford food.

At present, the African continent seems to be comparatively little affected by the pandemic. This is due to the relatively low international mobility of the population. "But once the virus has reached the cities, it is likely to spread faster than in Europe, for example," says Schlichte. "Because people live closer together and have fewer retreat areas in the form of their own apartments or houses."

The poor data situation makes it difficult to predict how the pandemic will develop. One problem with the prognosis is that there is hardly any data on the spread of pre-existing conditions such as asthma and other respiratory diseases. "African societies are much younger than, say, European societies. There are comparatively few elderly people in whom Covid-19 is more likely to develop particularly severe conditions". This positive effect may be outweighed by the fact that there are many people who are malnourished and undernourished.

Economically, the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting African societies hard. Tourism, which is of great importance in the coastal regions, but also in the interior in the form of safaris, is experiencing a massive slump. "More important, however, is the decline in so-called remittances [i.e. money transfers from family members working in Europe, for example]. As a result, the most important source of foreign currency in African economies is collapsing." In total, the remittances are higher than the total development aid that African countries receive.

In the medium term, however, the Corona crisis could also have positive consequences: "It is possible that pressure on African governments will now increase," says Schlichte, "to spend more money on public health care and less on the military and police.

The podcast interview with Klaus Schlichte was conducted by Thomas Walli of the Institute for Political Science at the University of Innsbruck as part of the special series "Corona and Politics".


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Schlichte
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67475
E-Mail: kschlich@uni-bremen.de

Covid-19 cases in Central Asia (Source: Zentralasien-Analysen Nr. 140)
Covid-19 cases in Central Asia (Source: Zentralasien-Analysen Nr. 140)
The CRC project provides regularly updated information on the situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The team around project director Heiko Pleines is compiling and processing extensive data on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In addition, the dossier provides chronicles at country level on the respective social policy responses to the development of the pandemic. This information is regularly updated and supplemented with analyses by country experts.

The dossier on the Covid-19 pandemic can be found on the pages of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. English texts will follow soon.

The analyses of the situation in Russian can also be found on the website of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Alex Nadège Ouedraogo back at her improvised office in Brussels.
Alex Nadège Ouedraogo back at her improvised office in Brussels.
Once the shutdown was in place, Alex Nadège Ouedraogo had to terminate her research stay in southern Senegal and could only leave the country with a repatriation flight.

Hello Nadège, please tell me about your trip to Senegal.

I left Bremen on the 11th of March. I was supposed to stay in Senegal for a bit more than two weeks. The plan was to have some knowledge exchange with experts at the Assane Seck University of Ziguinchor in the south of Senegal and to conduct interviews with Senegalese security nets households beneficiaries. But this plan completely collapsed because of the Corona virus spreading.

Were you prepared for this scenario?

When I started from Bremen, Africa wasn't as affected as Europe. When I arrived everything was normal and then the situation changed quickly. On my third day, first COVID-19 cases were confirmed, and from there everything started to get crazy. Apparently a couple of French retired people being infected came back to Senegal where they actually now live. Much worse was the case of a Senegalese who returned from Italy to Touba. Touba is a religious city and this means that there are more interactions between people than in other cities due to collective sittings, meetings, prayers and so forth. From what people and the press said, he didn't mentioned that he came from Italy and he didn’t know about the virus which he spread to up to 70 people in a very short time according to press release. These soaring cases changed the situation very quickly. Before I realised, governments worldwide started to take drastic measures to limit the expansion of the virus. Airlines were cancelling flights, the Senegalese President Macky Sall took early on measures and shut down all schools and universities, forbid meetings, Friday prayer at mosques to avoid people gathering and so forth―many measures that led me to stay home and hoping to go back to Europe.

Does this mean that you could not talk to anyone at the universities?

I had planned to go to the Assane Seck university of Ziguinchor for one week, I was supposed to be a visiting researcher there. With everything going on, I contacted the head of the Sociology department with whom I arranged my visit to know what to do. He told me the university was about to be closed. Although it seems complicated, I decided to at least go to meet with one of the colleagues to discuss about our projects. In parallel to this university exchange I had planned to do some final data collection interviewing about ten families who benefit from safety net cash transfers. At some point, we agreed to cancel the interviews, because the families may be afraid to get in close contact with me who was coming from Europe where the corona virus was spread much wider. My stay in the south of Senegal, which was initially planned to last one week, was to be cut down to three days, but even that proved too optimistic with increasing displacement restrictions. On the very same day I arrived, I realised that I had to return to Dakar to catch a flight back home as soon as possible because around the world governments were closing the borders.

Getting a plane ticket must have been a lottery …

There were no flights at all, you couldn't book anything on the internet. Egencia was saturated, flights were offered on the website but you could not actually book any. I contacted several agencies to see what they could do for me - nothing. There was no information available, I felt kind of lost while in Europe people were already in lockdown. Once I managed to get back to Dakar, the borders were closed. All international flights in and out were stopped. I was stranded in Senegal.

What did you do then?

Together with my team and Irina we contacted different services (Egencia, airlines, MFA, German institutions in Dakar and so forth). They were always present and supporting. Since I am also a Belgian citizen, I contacted the Belgian embassy. They told me straight away that they were not going to organise anything. The same with the German embassy. Only the French apparently were organising repatriation flights and obviously those flights were fully booked at the minute they were out. There I was, not knowing when I will make it out of Senegal. This whole process took an entire week with emails and phone calls.

How did you get to leave the country then?

At the last minute, on Sunday the 22nd, I received an email from the Belgian embassy stating that they were organising a flight. I had to fill in some forms to apply for a ticket. On the very same night they sent a confirmation for the next day, 8 am. When I arrived, this huge airport was empty except for us and all the Belgian diplomats wearing masks and gloves.  We did not get any information and were only asked to line up, respecting 1,5 metres of distance to one another. There were apparently a couple of people without a ticket sitting with their luggage aside, the atmosphere was tense. But eventually I made it to Brussels. I couldn’t make it to Bremen, as there were no trains or flights. Here in Brussels I have to stay in isolation for 14 days.

Now you have lots of time for your thesis but not the data that you needed to collect in Senegal, right?

It is fine because I'm in the writing process right now. I'm doing a cumulative dissertation. I already started writing one article with Klaus Schlichte and there is another one that I have presented in November. So I'm busy with those papers that I have to submit. The problem is the lockdown situation here. I am here in a different environment to work and I am not used to this. I can work but it is not as efficient. I will still do my best to write those papers and to contribute to the project.

But what about the interviews you wanted conduct in Senegal?

Since one of my articles will be about social nets during election time, these interviews were kind of an evaluation or an after election information. I had already collected data during the election period and I wanted to integrate some post-election information into the last paper I am planning to write.  Apart from the family interviews on cash transfers I was supposed to conduct a round table at the University with some social policy experts that are working on food security. I was really expecting a lot of this. I was able to gather people from the sociology department and from national and international institutions that are locally grounded. It was disappointing that I couldn't present my work to them and discuss it in order to get to know what they think about my findings. This is disappointing because having more local grounded expertise would have really helped me with my writing.


Contact:
Alex Nadège Ouedraogo
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 176 73 96 96 90
E-Mail: ouedraogo@uni-bremen.de

Covid-19 cases in Ukraine, by region (source: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 232)
Covid-19 cases in Ukraine, by region (source: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 232)
In the "Ukraine-Analysen", experts examine how the Ukrainian government is reacting to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Pavlo Illiashenko and Olena Levenets from the Technical University of Tallinn analyse in their article in issue 232 of "Ukraine-Analysen" how the novel corona virus spread in Ukraine and how the government reacted to it. They take into account data up to 18 March 2020.

The authors conclude that the Ukrainian government and the authorities were relatively passive until March 11: Mainly measures were announced, but only partially implemented, which aimed to prevent the entry of the virus from abroad (especially travel warnings, temperature measurements of people entering from Italy). Tests for Covid-19 infections were almost never carried out (only 43 tests until 11 March).

From 11 March onwards, government measures were significantly tightened. Schools and borders were closed, assembly bans were imposed, shops had to close, local states of emergency were declared. Ukraine only continues to lag behind in tests for infections, which have been carried out many times more frequently in neighbouring countries.

The authors conclude that the government of Ukraine was unprepared, at least in the initial phase of the crisis. This is also due to the fact that the government's ability to act was limited by the dismissal of ministers by the president at the beginning of March. After 11 March, however, there was a strict change of course, according to which the government acted much more proactively than its neighbouring states.

A detailed analysis of the Ukrainian response to the Covid-19 pandemic can be found in the current issue 232 of Ukraine Analyses (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Newly introduced Technical Paper Series as an essential part of the documentation of data collection

Documenting the data collection is an essential part of building WeSIS – the Welfare State Information System. Researchers, however, often struggle with the appropriate level of detail ranging from simple accounts of a final indicator to page-long descriptions about how an indicator came into being. Both WeSISPedia and the newly launched Technical Paper Series are an integral part of the documentation. The former serves as a codebook with basic information about variables and indicators collected and stored in WeSIS. As such it merely “describes” the data. The Technical Paper Series in turn allows for a structured way of documenting the data and the data generating process, for detailing country-specific definitions, or for describing complex coding rules. In short, the Technical Paper Series complements and eases the use of WeSIS and its data, and provides a more detailed description beyond a codebook and “hands on” suggestions for handling the data properly.

In the first paper Lara Eiser, Michael Lischka and Tobias Tkaczick describe the procedure of generating metric geographical distance data. Showing on which data basis (CShapes Dataset), with which software (ArcGIS) and which methods/features the WeSIS indicator 'Capital Distance' was created, they document the data generation in a transparent, comprehensible and replicable manner. In addition, the paper offers screenshots for adopting the calculations for further applications.

The Technical Paper Series is coordinated by Nils Düpont.


Contact:
Dr. Nils Düpont
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57060
E-Mail: duepont@uni-bremen.de

How to abolish child labour internationally

Jenny Hahs and Fabian Besche offer a simulation game for children aged 10 - 12 years on 31.03.2020 from 10 - 12 o'clock and 14 - 16 o'clock in the context of the Children's University 2020 hosted by the University of Bremen. The simulation game focuses on child labour and the right for education.

The children will get an insight into today's forms of child labour, its distribution and its history in interplay and tension with the introduction of compulsory schooling and the right for education. They form teams with other participants and become representatives of their country, advocating for their country's interests in a simulation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) conference on the abolition of child labour. In this way they also get a first practical insight into how international politics is made.

There are still a few free places and tickets can be booked on the website of the Children's University of Bremen.


Contact:
Fabian Besche
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
P.O. Box 33 04 40
28334 Bremen
Phone: (0421) 218 - 57066
E-Mail: fbesche@uni-bremen.de

Jenny Hahs
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57069
E-Mail: jenny.hahs@uni-bremen.de

Johanna Kuhlmann (project B01) is currently (January to March 2020) a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford.

She is a guest of Professor Jane Gingrich. During her stay, Johanna works on causal mechanisms in actor-centred approaches to comparative social policy.

Johanna Kuhlmann Oxford_Profil.png (174 KB)


Contact:
Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58574
E-Mail: johanna.kuhlmann@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Rueyming Tsay
Prof. Rueyming Tsay
Rueyming Tsay is currently staying as Visiting Scholar in project A06 “Formation and diffusion of family policy in a global perspective”

Project A06 is hosting Rueyming Tsay, Professor of Sociology at Tunghai University, Taiwan, who is a leading expert on family issues, particularly aging. His research interests also include social stratification, sociology of education, and quality of life. He has recently worked on a comparative study assessing the effects of family and social engagement on quality of life and health of the elders in Taiwan, China, and the US. The data were collected by research teams of Tunghai University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa to compare the aging process of Chinese in different societies and across cultural boundaries.

Professor Tsay will stay in Bremen until July 2020. His expertise on Asian societies, particularly related to the family culture, provides a valuable background for research performed at CRC.

Countries in East and Southeast Asia experienced an extraordinary pace of demographic and social change over the past five decades. Still, comparative welfare state research and research on family policy in this world region is scarce. It has been argued that trends in marriage and fertility reflect the tension between rapid social and economic changes on the one hand and limited change in family expectations and obligations on the other. Also, retirement arrangement within Asian families has become a significant issue for the policy makers. Demographic trends and Asian approach to social policy and family policy are thus highly contingent on traditional family values and practices.

An opportunity to get to know more about Professor Tsay’s work will also present itself when he will give a presentation at the Jour Fixe lecture series in May 2020.


Contact:
Prof. Sonja Drobnič
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-66360
E-Mail: sonja.drobnic@bigsss.uni-bremen.de

CRC member Ulrich Mückenberger paid tribute to the scholar of law Éliane Vogel-Polsky at a memorial service in Brussels. Mückenberger was invited as a representative of European labour law.

Ulrich Mückenberger spoke in Brussels on 19 February 2020 at the memorial service for the great European law scholar Éliane Vogel-Polsky. Born in 1926 and died in 2015, Vogel-Polsky was one of the great figures in European labour law. She was a professor, lawyer, human rights campaigner, feminist and passionate European. Ulrich Mückenberger worked with her on and published, among other things, the document "Manifesto Social Europe" (2001).

In her honour, the Université Libre de Bruxelles organised a colloquium with friends and colleagues of Éliane Vogel-Polsky. Mückenberger was invited as a representative of European labour law.

More about the event on the website of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Mückenberger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Faculty of Law
Universitätsallee, GW1
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-66218
E-Mail: mueckenb@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Irene Dingeldey with students at the Federal Foreign Office
Dr. Irene Dingeldey with students at the Federal Foreign Office
With the support of CRC 1342, Irene Dingeldey and Master students travelled to Berlin for three days. They participated in workshops with the ILO and the German Foreign Office.

Together with students from the course "Collective and Indivdiual Labour Rights" from the Master's programme in Social Policy, CRC member Irene Dingeldey travelled to the Federal Foreign Office and the ILO branch in Berlin. They participated in workshops from 15-17 January.

The main focus was on the exchange between practitioners and academics, the application of theory and empirical findings to practice, and the demonstration of the process of norm-setting and implementation using the example of Germany.


Contact:
PD Dr. Irene Dingeldey
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute Labour and Economy
Wiener Straße 9 / Ecke Celsiusstraße
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-61710
E-Mail: dingeldey@uni-bremen.de

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