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Sauti za Wananchi launched in Kenya

Kenyans are overwhelmingly positive about devolution: 47% strongly agree and 35% agree with the statement ‘I support devolution in Kenya.’ Citizens are also largely satisfied with the outcomes of devolution so far, 43% say that health services have improved since being taken over by County governments. However 29% also do not think health services have improved since the transition.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief entitled Taking government closer to the people? What citizens think about Devolution. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,830 respondents between 14 December 2015 and 6 January 2016.

In addition to being positive, citizens appear to be informed about County governments, with over half (54%) claiming knowledge of their County development plan. In particular, citizens referenced infrastructure projects (85%), education (45%), and electricity (29%) as key issues in the plans.

The release of these data also marks the launch of Sauti za Wananchi in Kenya. Sauti za Wananchi uses mobile phones to regularly collect information from a broad cross-section of Kenyan citizens. The initiative will allow survey data to be gathered quickly and efficiently, at low cost.

Policy makers regularly make decisions for the whole country, but with poor access to the experiences and realities of a large majority of citizens. It is also difficult for them to know whether policies are properly implemented or actually working. Policy makers typically use administrative or survey data to inform their work. But administrative data often suffer from inadequate technical, logistical and quality assurance arrangements and survey data are costly and time-consuming to collect.

Sauti za Wananchi offers a solution that overcomes these limitations. It provides access to frequently updated statistics on a range of topics, with a focus on quality of public services and citizens’ realities, for policy makers, analysts, media, other organisations and the public. Sauti za Wananchi embodies the rigour and quality of traditional survey methodology but uses mobile phones to lower costs and speed up the process of data collection.

Sauti za Wananchi builds on careful design, testing and rigour; the program has been in operation in Tanzania for three years, and has now expanded to Kenya. Full details of the methodology and process for setting up Sauti za Wananchi are available in a brief, released by Twaweza, entitled Collecting national data using mobile phones, based on data collected from 2,000 respondents between 12 November and 24 December 2015

Below are a selection of images for media use (right click on the image and select 'save image as'), the publications being released and the full dataset. You can also watch an animation about our methodology.

Read more: citizens devolution governance Kenya mobile phones Sauti za Wananchi

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