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MISTY survey plans resume with diversified data collection methods to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors: Dominique Jolivet (University of Amsterdam) and Mumuni Abu (RIPS, University of Ghana)


Enumerators from receive training for face-to face survey work in Accra, Ghana.



With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, MISTY had to postpone its plans to conduct a comparative survey in five cities across the globe. Survey plans have resumed eight months later with the launch of face-to-face and online surveys. We have diversified the data collection methods to comply with local institutional biosecurity measures and adjusted our study to the evolution of the pandemic in Accra, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dhaka, London, Maputo and Worcester (US).


The MISTY survey is designed to study changes in sustainable practices (attitudes and behaviours) in individuals’ lives over the life course and the migration trajectory. The survey compares life trajectories of international migrants, internal migrants, and non-migrants in different cities across the globe.


MISTY has readjusted its research design to conduct biographic surveys with retrospective questions in Accra, Maputo and Dhaka and shorter cross-sectional online surveys in the other sites. The compensation of losing the retrospective component in the online survey is the reduced cost of online data collection. This allows MISTY to broaden the geographical scope of the online survey and add London and Brussels to Amsterdam and Worcester. The biographic and online surveys will collect a substantial amount of overlapping information which can be used for comparative research.



MISTY field work resumes with the RIPS team rolling out the qualitative survey in Accra


The Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana is the first to implement the biographic survey face to face in Accra. The fieldwork kicked off in November and the team has already collected data among 878 respondents. Enumerators are extra careful in the field to ensure both their safety and that of respondents and keep to the established COVID-19 protocols. Respondents tend to share their experiences during the initial lockdown in Accra, and how it affected their businesses. Some respondents claim to have lost their capital as a result of the pandemic because of the closure of the borders between Ghana and Nigeria – the major route for their business. In addition, their goods are hardly sold these days because their usual customers are particularly careful with their expenditure due to the economic shocks brought by the pandemic. Most schools are still closed in Accra, which puts additional stress on respondents who spend so much time with their children that it is also affecting their business.


On December 7, MISTY launched its online survey in Amsterdam, Brussels and London. An online remote survey prevents us from gathering respondents’ everyday experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the online approach does allow us to overcome local institutional biosecurity measures and collect without further delays rich data to answer some of our research questions while data collection through face to face and remote interviews is ongoing in the other sites. The next step is to launch the online survey in Worcester while we prepare the fieldwork in Dhaka and Maputo, where we plan to combine face-to-face and mobile phone interviews.

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