The World Bank and HNI are “Listening to Madagascar”

Category : Mobile-to-Mobile Surveys

An innovative data collection approach is providing Madagascar’s government ministries and national press with a different perspective on the state of the country. The statistics combine results from face-to-face baseline surveys with data collected through follow up monthly interviews using mobile phones.

M2M Survey Operators

HNI Mobile-to-Mobile Survey Operators conducting follow-up surveys
Photo: HNI

HNI was selected by the World Bank  to carry out the “Listening to Madagascar” mobile phone surveys on a sample of 2000 households; part of a larger, US$ 1.8 million “Listening to Africa” project.

The aim of the project is to encourage regional governments to be accountable and to influence policy.

The project monitors simple variables on the socio-economic and livelihood conditions of households in Madagascar.

The first part consisted of face-to-face baseline surveys through field visits to participating households. The data was collected using tablets.

HNI recruited and trained 56 field agents to carry out the household interviews and to complete the digital questionnaires in all of Madagascar’s 22 regions.

The second part is to continue Listening to Madagascar. HNI is implementing 12 new rounds of mobile phone interviews on a monthly basis. HNI’s Mobile-to-Mobile Survey operators call the household to confirm their participation.

To maintain a high response rate to these mobile surveys, HNI has provided:

  • 2100 telephones with SIM cards to household participants
  • 1800 solar chargers to participants who do not have access to Madagascar’s electrical grid
  • The equivalent of $1 US in telephone airtime to each household per month

The operators are native Malagasy speakers, fluent in the various regional dialects, and are trained to engage the household respondents and obtain high quality responses.

L2M Survey Data Entry

A data entry screen used by HNI operators during phone interviews.
Screen Shot: HNI

“These households represent the full spectrum of Madagascar,” said Salohy Soloarivelo, ICT Operations Coordinator at HNI. “Some do not live within reach of a cell tower. Some would not otherwise be using cell phones at all. But we have been able to reach 75 percent or more of our survey households every month — even when it means sending a messenger to remind the participant to turn on the phone so that we can call them.”

A recent Madagascar Economic Update (PDF) released by The World Bank lists some upbeat macroeconomic indicators: a 20 percent increase in fiscal revenue, a narrowed trade deficit. While the information gathered from Madagascan homes by Listening to Madagascar tells a different story:

The majority of households judge that they are unhappy with their standard of living and that their income is too low to cover household needs. Almost half of households think that their well-being declined compared to 2008, mainly because of the cost of living.

CaptionSource: Madagascar Economic Update, Table 1

Responses to the question, “What is the degree of satisfaction in your life during the past 12 months?”
Source: World Bank Madagascar Economic Update

This often eye-opening contrast in perspectives highlights the value of household survey data — something that is taken for granted in many countries.

The World Bank presents the latest survey data and analysis at regular press events that are also attended by government officials. All of the survey results are available online from Madagascar’s National Statistics Institute (French).

Read more about HNI Mobile-to-Mobile Surveys >>