The World Bank Group suggests that the proliferation of mobile phones has opened up new opportunities for conducting surveys in developing countries. It says data about people’s lives can now be gathered much cheaper and faster.
The World Bank’s Listening to Africa initiative is now collecting household data through mobile phone surveys in African countries.
Data and evidence are crucial to monitoring and meeting the World Bank Group’s goals of ending poverty and promoting the welfare of the least well-off in every country.
They are also necessary for planning and assessing policies and programs with a view toward reaching the most vulnerable.
The World Bank’s Listening to Africa (L2A) initiative is one such program. L2A is a collaboration with national statistical offices and NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa to pilot the use of mobile phones to regularly collect information on living conditions.
The approach combines face-to-face surveys with follow up mobile phone interviews to collect data that allows welfare monitoring.
It is currently operating in a number of countries – Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, and Mali – where there is a strong demand, capacity for implementation and sufficient network coverage.