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LSMS launches high-frequency phone surveys on COVID-19

An LSMS-ISA Status Update, as of May 14, 2020:

The first round of data collection of the LSMS-supported phone surveys on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 has been completed in Ethiopia and Nigeria, and is under way or in preparation in Burkina Faso, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. The first countries expected to disseminate results are Ethiopia and Nigeria (by end May), followed by Uganda, Malawi, Burkina Faso and Tanzania (in June). 

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As part of a global effort by the World Bank, LSMS is launching high-frequency phone surveys in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda to track national responses to COVID-19 and its socio-economic impacts

With the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have been taking increasingly stringent containment measures. The movement of people within and across countries has been restricted, and economic activities have slowed down or, in many cases, come to a complete halt. Such restrictions have directly impacted the activities of our team and our national statistical office partners on the ground, as well as the work of countless other groups involved in primary data production and analysis.

In view of the social distancing measures that have severely limited the use of face-to-face interviews, we are now launching, in collaboration with our NSO partners and World Bank colleagues, a series of high-frequency phone surveys in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda to track responses to and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

The working draft of the proposal that outlines of our phone survey activities can be accessed HERE. As part of this effort we have developed novel survey guidance and tools for re-orienting existing national survey infrastructures to address emergency data needs elsewhere and in the future.

Leveraging the World Bank LSMS-ISA Program for High-Frequency Phone Surveys on COVID-19

The phone surveys leverage the ongoing World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) initiative and its infrastructure. The high-frequency phone surveys started in April 2020 and will conduct monthly phone interviews, for a period of 12 months, with national samples of households that had been interviewed during the latest round of the LSMS-ISA-supported national longitudinal household survey. In some countries, other sampling frames may be considered.

This model leverages a decade of investments in the capacities of national statistical offices to design and conduct longitudinal household surveys. By enabling the partner national statistical offices to respond to the emergency data needs by re-orienting the existing longitudinal surveys, as opposed to building new, parallel systems of data collection, it promotes sustainability, and can easily be replicated at scale in other geographical areas.

Implemented with financial support from USAID and the World Bank, the phone surveys in LSMS-ISA countries form an integral part of the broader, first wave of World Bank-supported high-frequency phone surveys across the globe, including in other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific. The LSMS team is working closely with other World Bank colleagues in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice in support of this global effort.

Contributing to the Global Effort to Operationalize Phone Surveys

In the short-term, the collaboration with our World Bank colleagues in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice will focus on developing harmonized instruments and tools that can be readily adopted by as many countries and implementers as possible with little initial fixed costs. These include:

Over the medium term, we will explore deriving greater value from high-frequency phone surveys, based on rigorous probability samples, as part of integrated data systems that will leverage administrative, geospatial, mobile phone and/or social media data to study responses to and impacts of the pandemic and other extreme events that require rapid responses based on longitudinal data.

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