How to run your own mobile phone survey

Twaweza's flagship Sauti za Wananchi, Africa's first nationally representative mobile phone survey, was created to address major gaps in current data availble to policy makers and citizens. 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. Citizens equally do not have an easy way to know what is going on around the country, and to compare their situation with other.

Generally, the only types of data available to provide insight into national realities are administrative or survey data. Administrative data often suffer from quality issues and survey data are costly in terms of resources and time. Sauti za Wananchi provides infrastructure to address these challenges. A nationally representative sample of citizens can be contacted regularly through mobile phones, to provide opinions and report on local realities.

Since pioneering Sauti za Wananchi in Tanzania in 2013, Twaweza has produced over 30 short briefs on topics as diverse as natural resources and perceptions of people with disabilities. In 2016, Sauti za Wananchi was launched in Kenya.

Twaweza and the World Bank have jointly produced a handbook on mobile phone panel surveys. The purpose of this collection of seven chapters is to contribute to the development of the new field of mobile phone data collection in developing countries. This handbook documents how this innovative approach to data collection works, the specific advantages of mobile phone panel surveys  (MPPSs), the practical aspects, and the challenges in survey design. The handbook mainly draws on the first-hand experiences of the authors with a number of mobile data collection initiatives, primarily across Sub-Saharan Africa.  In addition, the text builds on the experience and lessons gathered through mobile phone data collection projects in other regions of the world.

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Authors: Alvin Etang



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