News

Here you can find the latest updates on the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy": summaries of current research results, references to our latest publications, outcomes of events and more news from the projects and their staff members.

Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
A research team at the University of Bremen wants to find out what challenges nursing facilities face during the corona pandemic and how they deal with it. The aim is to make proposals for policy makers to take appropriate action.

A nine-member team from the Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP) and the SOCIUM Research Centre Inequality and Social Policy, led by Karin Wolf-Ostermann and CRC member Heinz Rothgang, is conducting a nationwide online survey among outpatient and residential care institutions. More than half of all nursing facilities in Germany, a total of 18,000, are now contacted by e-mail.

People in need of care are among the most vulnerable groups in the country. If you fall ill with COVID-19, the death rate is very high. They should be protected. The only currently known and used strategy to contain the pandemic is social distancing. However, this strategy cannot be applied to those in need of care to the same extent as for the rest of the population, as those affected depend on personal support and therefore cannot do without physical proximity. Nevertheless, social distancing measures can be taken, for example by restricting the opportunities for visits. "However, this leads to isolation and loneliness, which is also dangerous for those in need of care. So we are in a dilemma," says nursing science professor Karin Wolf-Ostermann.

The aim of the scientific investigation is now to determine what challenges exist for nursing services during the corona pandemic. The aim is to determine what human and material resources are lacking and what changes in the general conditions could have a positive effect on the nursing facilities. Based on the results, the participating Bremen scientists want to develop recommendations for action which can be fed into the political process via the Federal Ministry of Health. "The corona crisis shows clearly how burdened nursing facilities are. Hopefully, efforts to improve the staffing situation in institutions will not be hindered by the crisis, but even promoted," says health economist Professor Heinz Rothgang. His colleague Karin Wolf-Ostermann adds: "The crisis is an opportunity for a technological innovation push. For example, facilities should enable residents to communicate digitally with relatives".

Heinz Rothgang explained further details about the current situation in nursing homes in two interviews at buten and binnen:


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58557
E-Mail: rothgang@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
Spokesperson Herbert Obinger explains how the Covid-19 pandemic affects the work of CRC 1342.

For weeks, public life has been at a standstill because of the protective measures to fight the spread of the corona virus. How does this affect the work of the Collaborative Research Centre?

Clearly negatively. Field research is not possible, our Mercator Fellows and other guest researchers cannot come to Bremen as planned. All national and international conferences and our CRC Summer School have been cancelled. Teaching for the summer semester had to be switched to digital courses at short notice. However, the situation is most difficult for scientists with children, as schools and day-care centres are closed and the availability of emergency care is extremely limited. Under these circumstances, regular work is only possible to a very limited extent.

Is there a risk that the lockdown will prevent the research work of individual projects from being carried out as planned, especially since the first funding phase of the SFB will end at the end of next year?

Our CRC in particular, with its focus on global social policy, is strongly affected by these measures. Covid-19 is a global phenomenon and practically all countries are reacting with similar restrictive measures. For example, one of our scientists was suddenly stuck in Senegal during her research stay. Archive work or interviews abroad are currently completely impossible due to travel restrictions. In addition, we are currently not allowed to enter our offices, teamwork is impossible. However, certain work requires the physical presence of several people.

Are there negotiations with the DFG to extend certain deadlines or to consider negative consequences of the corona pandemic in the upcoming review?

It is still too early for that. The DFG has been taken by surprise by Covid and, like the universities, is currently busy somehow maintaining the ongoing operations. Nevertheless, a solution must be found here. It is clear that certain work packages cannot be completed as planned under the current conditions. We also do not know how long the current situation will last. In any case, the situation will not improve that quickly.

Does the lockdown have a positive side? Can we also learn something from the current improvised measures and take it with us into future funding phases?

For example, since business trips and the daily commute to the office are no longer necessary, there is generally more time for reading and writing. However, this depends crucially on whether or not there is a duty of care. Personally, I have had positive experiences with video conferencing, which I had not used before. They offer a cost-effective alternative for smaller scientific workshops. However, an efficient Internet is indispensable for this.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58567
E-Mail: herbert.obinger@uni-bremen.de

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