In addition to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and professionals responsible for monitoring the progress of policies and evaluating their impact face a phenomenon that has particularly intensified in this crisis: that of an infodemic — a flood of information, some accurate and some not. As governments and average citizens face difficult decisions in the trade-off between protecting public health while preserving the economy and livelihoods, this flood of information makes it hard to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they are needed the most.
To help address this challenge, Clear Lusophone Africa and Brazil (LAB) officially launched the Monitor de Evidências Covid-19 (COVID-19 Evidence Monitor) during gLocal Evaluation Week 2020 that wrapped up earlier this month. Our aim is to provide our partners in government and the evaluation community, along with the various segments of society in the countries where we work, with a source of reliable information to support evidence-based decision making.
Misinformation can lead to a great deal of harm, and many organizations, such as the UN, are now officially fighting it. On the brighter side, however, knowledge-production and information-sharing has skyrocketed. Technology giants have signed the Open COVID Pledge, making their intellectual property available free-of-charge under open license. Major scientific publications such as Elsevier and Springer have given free access to research related to the new coronavirus. Many relevant magazines and newspaper globally have also taken down their paywalls for their pandemic coverage - a decision that has often led to new subscribers.
The main role of the Monitor de Evidências Covid-19 is to help our audience navigate the infodemic associated with the new coronavirus crisis by curating qualified, relevant, and evidence-based content from around the world about various topics, such as the economy, labor market, social policy, education, health, and early childhood, among others. The next step is to organize this data-gathering from multilateral bodies, governments, think tanks, and academic institutions into an online repository and make it available to our audience — public leaders, policy makers, academics, students, and so on, in Lusophone Africa and Brazil — through our social media channels and a brand new weekly newsletter, which is now available for subscriptions.
For the next few months, the Monitor de Evidências Covid-19 will also add regular reviews of the evidence-based, curated content to the online repository. All communications products provided by the Monitor will be delivered in Portuguese, making it easier for our community to access quality knowledge and use it in their everyday work in the policy arena.
By focusing our efforts on filtering trustworthy sources and information, we expect to provide reliable guidance to professionals and the public at large seeking evidence to make decisions in these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to make them less susceptible to the toxic aspects of the infodemic phenomenon. This initiative is also part of the commitments and efforts of the CLEAR global network to promote the planning and implementation of evidence-based public policies. It is an assertive way of strengthening systems and capacities for monitoring and evaluation, which will be a key element to produce the most effective and efficient responses to the new challenges posed by the current crisis.