Since March 2020, when COVID-19 became part of our lives, a series of initiatives related to COVID-19 have been taken by the government of the Republic of Moldova, development partners, the private sector and civil society. These initiatives have been designed to measure the impact of the crisis on different target groups and different aspects of our lives, but also to find ways to navigate the pandemic, meet the changing demands of people and help them to better recover from the crisis. To complement the existing efforts to measure the impact, UNDP explored real-life stories from people about how COVID-19 has affected their lives and the lives of others in their communities.
UNDP Moldova partnered with Cognitive Edge in a joint effort to answer the question: “What is the impact of COVID-19 on the communities of Moldova?”.. We used thick data, referred to as micro-narratives, alongside quantitative data gathered through SenseMaker®. We also ran a sense-making community workshop to facilitate further discussion, interpretation and exploration of the data. The combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection, through SenseMaker®, allows for statistical patterns to emerge and for the respondents themselves to use the qualitative data as a narrative explanation for the quantitative data gathered. The responses to multiple choice questions enable further in-depth analysis and the data to be filtered by various demographic and content questions.
The impact of COVID-19 through people’s narratives and perceptions – November 2020
The thematic paper is an analysis of the thick data, referred to as micro-narratives, about the impact of COVID-19 on the communities of Moldova in the period March-August 2020. The paper reflects on the main challenges encountered by people during the COVID-19 period and their perception of the challenges. The paper analyses the patterns arising from 300 real stories collected and suggests possible directions of support to meet the needs of vulnerable people and communities in times of crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the complexity of the development challenges faced by the people and vulnerable groups in Moldova. The use big and thick data and a combination of the two helps in unpacking such complexities and finding new policy options and solutions to tackling rising inequalities, new forms of poverty, social exclusion, among others. UNDP in Moldova, together with the Government, made use of thick data to unveil the hidden facets of the impact of the COVID-19 on most vulnerable and new vulnerable groups.
COVID-19 threw Moldovan governance into the chaotic domain (in Cynefin terms), where cause and effect are unclear, events are too confusing to wait for a knowledge-based response, and Government has to act and sense before responding. The Republic of Moldova used thick data (micro-narratives) to unveil the hidden facets of COVID’s impact. Using thick data helped to provide a more nuanced response to challenges, for instance by better shaping communication strategy. Thick data should not be considered as contradicting big data, but rather as complementary and enriching sensemaking. Empowering people to reflect on their assessed anecdotal evidence helps to enrich insights.
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