Professor Kavita Datta from Queen Mary’s School of Geography has been awarded substantial funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on migrant remittance flows and wellbeing. The grant is part of the UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19.
The project, Migrant Remittances and Covid-19: Practices of Care during Crisis, is a joint investigation with Dr Anna Lindley and Professor Laura Hammond (Development Studies, SOAS University of London) and Dr Elaine Chase (University College London Institute of Education). The funding, totalling just under £500 000, is the first substantial award for Covid-19 research for Queen Mary’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Remittance is defined in the project as money, or in-kind, transfers.
According to the World Bank, Covid-19 will wipe out US$100 billion in remittance flows, constituting the sharpest contraction since tracking began in 1980. Globally recognized as providing vital safety nets for recipient households, this decline, driven by reduced capacities among sending communities, is coinciding with escalating need as the pandemic takes hold in many receiving communities.
The UK is a significant originator of remittance flows and the UK government response has emphasised the importance of joining with global efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in remittances in the context of the unprecedented challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. But this raises important significant questions about the extent to which and how policy is able to support the resilience of remittances.
Focusing on Brazilian, Indian and Somali migrants living in London, Glasgow and Cardiff, the project will track shifts in the nature, patterns and direction of remittance sending in response to Covid-19. Situating remittances as practices of care, it will redress a bias in migration studies by exploring the implications of disrupted remittance flows on migrant, as opposed to recipient, wellbeing.
The project will investigate how migrants’ access to remittance services has been affected by Covid-19, and the impacts of increased digitisation of financial services, including gendered and generational differences in levels of access.
The UK-wide focus will highlight regional similarities and differences, with relevance for national mitigation measures.
The project will provide concrete policy recommendations for policy makers, informing efforts to support migrant lives and livelihoods in light of the impact of the pandemic. It will also provide insights into migrant remittance practices during the pandemic as well as how best to sustain remittance flows post-Covid-19.
Professor Kavita Datta, Professor of Development Geography at Queen Mary and Principal Investigator said: ‘We are excited to have been granted this funding which will shed light on the impact of Covid-19 on UK migrant communities, and their capacities to care for their families and themselves during the pandemic.’
The project will commence in autumn 2020 for a duration of 18 months.
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