In Malawi, GeoPoll recently partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Local Government Accountability and Performance (LGAP) project, which is implemented by DAI, to conduct surveys that measured the effectiveness and legitimacy of local government units. GeoPoll designed a district capacity index (DCI) and citizen perception survey to measure the effectiveness and legitimacy of local government at a district level. 

As both surveys continue to be collected throughout the life of the program, they will allow LGAP to measure and address service delivery by local government units.

The LGAP program works across eight districts in Malawi to improve local government performance and transparency, increase citizen engagement, and strengthen the enabling environment for decentralization. The key districts of the LGAP program are Balaka, Blantyre, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Machinga, Mulanje, Mzimba and Zomba. From April 13 through April 25, 2017 GeoPoll conducted approximately 20,000 surveys in these eight districts in English, Chichewa, and Tumbuka. GeoPoll conducted two surveys: a district capacity index (DCI) survey and district-level citizen perception surveys.

The DCI measures effectiveness and the legitimacy dimension of local government.  Using GeoPoll’s database of mobile phone users in Malawi, GeoPoll leveraged its data collection capabilities to conduct 8,000 SMS surveys with questions related to satisfaction with governing entities and public services broadly. The data provided necessary information on specific roles and requirements of various governing bodies, with a focus on locally relevant problems at the district-level in Malawi. Additionally, the data provided information on gaps in governance so that institutional reforms and organizational effectiveness can be addressed. This survey represents the baseline of the DCI and will be implemented annually to measure progress on the index.

Simultaneously, GeoPoll implemented 12,000 surveys across the eight key districts on citizens’ perceptions of public services. These 12,000 surveys provided data on satisfaction with a broad range of decentralized public services in order to address supply and demand constraints within each district. This survey asked respondents about their satisfaction with particular government services, including the availability of teacher and health workers, as well as the quality of and access to agricultural services.

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After collecting data from the DCI and district-level citizen perception surveys, GeoPoll weighted the data to draw a representative sample of the population in the eight focal districts. The data was weighted by age, gender, location and education to get a comprehensive understanding of the total demographic composition.

GeoPoll’s work with DAI LGAP builds off of extensive experience collecting information related to local governance perception and citizen perception. By conducting these survey projects simultaneously, GeoPoll was able to quickly and efficiently collect data that will be used to direct LGAP’s future programming efforts. In particular, the data will be used to create specific district-level programming by DAI’s LGAP team and monitor changes in citizen perceptions of government services throughout the life of the project.

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