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  • Author: Ben Bland, Alexandre Dayant, John Edwards, Stephen Grenville, Natasha Kassam, Herve Lemahieu, Alyssa Leng, Richard McGregor, Shane McLeod, Alex Oliver, Jonathan Pryke, Roland Rajah, Sam Roggeveen, Sam Scott
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The fight against COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge the world has faced since the middle of last century. As countries have fought to control the disease, they have closed borders, quarantined their citizens, and shut down economies almost entirely. The ramifications will reverberate for years, if not decades, to come. In April 2020, the Lowy Institute published a digital feature in which twelve Institute experts examined the ways in which the COVID crisis would affect Australia, the region and the world. In this new feature, Lowy Institute experts provide policy recommendations for Australia to address issues that are critical to our nation’s — and the world’s — successful emergence from the pandemic. Countries have turned inwards in an attempt to fend off the threat of an infection that is oblivious to borders. Some have seen globalisation as the cause of the crisis, and have focused on solving problems without recourse to the international institutions of global security and prosperity, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the G20. Yet global problems require international solutions. As the world emerges from the crisis, cooperation between nations will be more important than ever. Nation states cannot revive their economies purely through national solutions. They cannot address global threats, including the possibility of further pandemics, alone. Australia’s achievements in managing the COVID crisis have been exemplary. It has handled the health and economic emergency with great competence. But this is just the beginning of our crisis recovery. The challenges in our region, and the global problems that existed before COVID, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Australia has already done much to address the domestic economic and health issues from the COVID crisis. But to shape a prosperous and secure future, it will also need to work in cooperation with other nations, large and small, allies and partners, on a much broader array of international issues ranging from the economic disruption across the region, pressure from China on trade, and development challenges in the Pacific, to increasingly competitive relations between the United States and China, the weakening of the World Health Organization, and the declining utility of the G20.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Health, World Health Organization, G20, Geopolitics, COVID-19, International Order
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Bhashkar Mazumder, Maria Rosales-Rueda, Margaret Triyana
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: We analyze the long-run and intergenerational effects of a large-scale school building project (INPRES) that took place in Indonesia between 1974 and 1979. Specifically, we link the geographic rollout of INPRES to longitudinal data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey covering two generations. We find that individuals exposed to the program have better health later in life along multiple measures. We also find that the children of those exposed experience improved health and educational outcomes and that these effects are generally stronger for maternal exposure than paternal exposure. We find some evidence that household resources, neighborhood quality, and assortative mating may explain a portion of our results. Our findings highlight the importance of considering the long-run and multigenerational benefits when evaluating the costs and benefits of social interventions in a middle-income country.
  • Topic: Education, Health, Poverty, Inequality, Economic Growth, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Raffaello Pantucci, Abdul Basit, Kyler Ong, Nur Aziemah Azman, V. Arianti, Muh Taufiqurrohman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has redefined almost all spheres of modern life. While states around the world are redeploying their financial resources, energies and military capabilities to cope with the challenge of the coronavirus, terrorist groups across the ideological spectrum have positioned themselves to exploit the gaps created by these policy re-adjustments. Terrorist groups are milking people’s fears amid confusion and uncertainty to promote their extremist propagandas. The rearrangement of global imperatives will push counter-terrorism and extremism down the priority list of the international community. Anticipating these policy changes, existing counter-terrorism frameworks and alliances should be revisited to devise cost-effective and innovative strategies to ensure continuity of the fight against terrorist groups. With these considerations in mind, this special issue of the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features four articles that identify and assess important security risks around COVID-19, given its far-reaching social, economic and geopolitical impact. In the first article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that COVID-19 will have a deep-seated and prolonged impact across government activity, both in terms of the categorisation of risks, as well as the resources available to tackle other issues. Perceptions of risk around terrorist threats may shift, with states grappling with stark economic, social and political challenges. At the same time, security threats continue to evolve, and may even worsen. According to the author, some of the tools developed to deal with the pandemic can potentially be useful in tracking terrorist threats. However, resource constraints will require states, on a global scale, to think far more dynamically about how to adequately buffer much-needed security blankets both within and beyond their borders. In the second article, Abdul Basit outlines the opportunities and potential implications that COVID-19 has created for terrorist groups across the ideological divide. According to the author, terrorist groups have exploited the virus outbreak to spread racial hatred, doomsday and end-of-times narratives. Among jihadist groups, IS has taken a more totalitarian view of the coronavirus pandemic, while Al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Taliban have used it as a PR exercise to gain political legitimacy. Far-right groups in the West have spun it to promote native nationalism, border restoration and anti-immigration policies. Terrorist groups have increased their social media propaganda to radicalise and recruit vulnerable individuals. At the same time, these groups have urged their supporters to carry out lone-wolf attacks and use the coronavirus as a bioweapon. In the post-COVID-19 world, revisiting existing counter-terrorism frameworks to devise more adaptable and cost-effective strategies would be needed to continue the fight against terrorism. In the next article, V. Arianti and Muh Taufiqurrohman observe that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a varied impact on Indonesia’s security landscape. On the one hand, it has emboldened IS-affiliated Indonesian militant groups to step up calls for attacks, with the government seen as weakened amidst a worsening domestic health crisis. On the other, ongoing indoctrination and recruitment activities of militant groups have also faced disruptions. According to the authors, counter-terrorism strategies will need to be reoriented as circumstances evolve, particularly in dealing with the arrest of militants and the subsequent processes of their prosecution and incarceration. Finally, Kyler Ong and Nur Aziemah Azman examine the calls to action by far-right extremists and the Islamic State (IS), which reveals varying degrees of organisational coherence in the respective movements. According to the authors, such variations influence these two groups’ preferred techniques, tactics and procedures adopted in seeking to exploit the health crisis. For its part, IS has a more organised hierarchical structure, even if it has increasingly granted autonomy to its affiliates to plan and execute attacks. In comparison, the absence of a central authority, or command structure in the far-right, can lead to a fragmentation of interests. These factors invariably create uncertainties in how, when and where extremists of both ilk may seek to operationalise an attack.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Health, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Abhijit Banerjee, Amy Finkelstein, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken, Arianna Ornaghi, Sudarno Sumarto
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: To assess ways to achieve widespread health insurance coverage with financial solvency in developing countries, we designed a randomized experiment involving almost 6,000 households in Indonesia who are subject to a nationally mandated government health insurance program. We assessed several interventions that simple theory and prior evidence suggest could increase coverage and reduce adverse selection: substantial temporary price subsidies (which had to be activated within a limited time window and lasted for only a year), assisted registration, and information. Both temporary subsidies and assisted registration increased initial enrollment. Temporary subsidies attracted lower-cost enrollees, in part by eliminating the practice observed in the no subsidy group of strategically timing coverage for a few months during health emergencies. As a result, while subsidies were in effect, they increased coverage more than eightfold, at no higher unit cost; even after the subsidies ended, coverage remained twice as high, again at no higher unit cost. However, the most intensive (and effective) intervention – assisted registration and a full one-year subsidy – resulted in only a 30 percent initial enrollment rate, underscoring the challenges to achieving widespread coverage.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Health Care Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jean Arkedis, Jessica Creighton, Archon Fung, Stephen Kosack, Dan Levy, Courtney Tolmie
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We assess the impact of a transparency and accountability program designed to improve maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes in Indonesia and Tanzania. Co-designed with local partner organizations to be community-led and non-prescriptive, the program sought to encourage community participation to address local barriers in access to high quality care for pregnant women and infants. We evaluate the impact of this program through randomized controlled trials (RCTs), involving 100 treatment and 100 control communities in each country. We find that on average, this program did not have a statistically significant impact on the use or content of maternal and newborn health services, nor the sense of civic efficacy or civic participation among recent mothers in the communities who were offered it. These findings hold in both countries and in a set of prespecified subgroups. To identify reasons for the lack of impacts, we use a mixed-method approach combining interviews, observations, surveys, focus groups, and ethnographic studies that together provide an in-depth assessment of the complex causal paths linking participation in the program to improvements in MNH outcomes. Although participation in program meetings was substantial and sustained in most communities, and most attempted at least some of what they had planned, only a minority achieved tangible improvements and fewer still saw more than one such success. Our assessment is that the main explanation for the lack of impact is that few communities were able to traverse the complex causal paths from planning actions to accomplishing tangible improvements in their access to quality health care.
  • Topic: Health, Health Care Policy, Children, Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Political Geography: Africa, Indonesia, Tanzania, Southeast Asia