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1. Afrobarometer Presentation

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Keynote presentation for Pew Research Center's Methodological Workshop on Public Opinion Research in Sub-Saharan Africa

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1. Afrobarometer Presentation

  1. 1. WWW.AFROBAROMETER.ORG Public opinion research in sub-Saharan Africa: Methodological workshop Presented by E. Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director, Afrobarometer and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development at the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. 30 Nov 2017
  2. 2. Part 1 Opinion research in sub-Saharan Africa: Methodological challenges to surveying
  3. 3. Challenge 1: Linguistic diversity of African countries  Afrobarometer works in more than 30 countries  A plethora of indigenous languages, in addition to official language(s).  In Round 5, AB identified >800 “home languages” in 35 countries.  Few countries have one/two local languages spoken nationally:  Lesotho, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Botswana, Mauritius, Cape Verde (1)  Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe (2)  Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Zambia (4-6)  Kenya (10) and Uganda (12)
  4. 4. Challenges related to linguistic diversity  Translating questionnaire from English/French/Portuguese/Arabic into major local languages  Finding meaningful and conceptually correct local equivalents of English/French technical terms (which can affect the types of questions that can be asked in a survey format)  Handling of languages that are only spoken but have no written form
  5. 5. AB innovations to address the linguistic diversity challenge Interviews are conducted in the language chosen by the respondent Mandatory uniform translation of questionnaire into any language spoken by at least 5% of the population Interviewers conduct interviews only in languages in which they are fluent Composition of fieldworker team must reflect the linguistic diversity of the population
  6. 6. Addressing translation challenges: A strict five-stage translation protocol 1 •Initial conceptualization and familiarization meeting with certified translators 2 •Synchronization to reconcile draft local translations with official/national language version 3 •Second drafts of local language translations are given to an independent team for blind back translation into the official/national language 4 •A second synchronization meeting between back and original translators to review back translations. Team of original translators then further refine their translations. 5 •Interviewer/supervisor training and field practice workshop to pre-test translations •Feedback from pre-tests informs refinements and final versions to be taken to the field. •Unwritten languages are translated phonetically for interviewers to understand.
  7. 7. Challenge 2: Large number of non-literate /semi- literate respondents  Inability to conduct self-administered surveys either online or by pen and paper (PAPI)  Tendency to be suspicious of “strangers” who seek to interview them  Challenges in understanding questions, especially scale questions
  8. 8. AB response to the challenge of surveys in largely oral/non-literate societies Mandatory local language translation of questionnaire Interview respondents in the language of their choice Face-to-face interviews Train interviewers in ways of assuaging the fears of respondents, including assurance of maximum confidentiality Minimize number of questions requiring respondents to rate responses on a scale and/or require interviewers to read out responses
  9. 9. Challenge 3: Surveys in post-authoritarian/ post- conflict/autocratic societies Fear of government reprisals makes respondents: Suspicious of the real motive of interviewers Suspicious that interviewers are government agents Guarded in their responses to politically sensitive questions Unresponsive to telephone interviews
  10. 10. AB response to the challenge of doing surveys in autocratic societies  Train interviewers to:  Assuage anxieties  Assure respondents of maximum confidentiality and political neutrality of Afrobarometer surveys  Closely observe respondent’s attitude/behaviour during the interview  Pick up non-verbal cues, particularly on socially and politically sensitive questions  Provide some sort of internal verification of the integrity of responses – to be taken into account in interpretation and analysis of findings
  11. 11. AB response to the challenge of doing surveys in autocratic societies (1) Assess conditions under which interviews are conducted and get non-verbal cues from respondents Interviewers must answer the following questions: 106. Were there any other people immediately present who might be listening during the interview? No one Spouse only Children only A few others Small crowd 110. What was the respondent’s attitude toward you during the interview? A. Was he or she Friendly In between Hostile B. Was he or she Interested In between Bored C. Was he or she Cooperative In between Uncooperative D. Was he or she Patient In between Impatient E. Was he or she At ease In between Suspicious F. Was he or she Honest In between Misleading
  12. 12. AB response to the challenge of doing surveys in autocratic societies (2) Another device AB employs to assess the integrity of responses to politically sensitive questions (a key challenge in post-authoritarian societies) is for interviewers to identify themselves as follows: Good day. My name is ____________. I am from RuralNet Associates Limited, a consultancy firm based in Lusaka, and Afrobarometer, independent research organizations. I do not represent the government or any political party. We are studying the views of citizens in Zambia about how the country is governed and how the economy is managed. We would like to discuss these issues with a member of your household. Every person in the country has an equal chance of being included in this study. All information will be kept confidential. Your household has been chosen by chance. We would like to choose an adult from your household. Would you help us pick one?
  13. 13. AB response to the challenge of doing surveys in autocratic societies (3) At the end of the interview, the respondent is asked: 100. Just one more question: Who do you think sent us to do this interview? [Do not read options. Code from response.] No one Political party or politician Afrobarometer or Ruralnet Associates Limited Government (including any government official, government agency or ministry, or any other part of government named by the respondent) Research company/organization/ programme [but not AB or correct national partner] International organization or another country Non-government or religious organization God University/school/college Other Private company Refused to answer Media Don’t know
  14. 14. Technical benefits of face-to-face interview technique (1)  Higher response rates (compared to other forms of data collection) due to the personal nature of the interviews  Interviewer control over the interview and increased time for interviewee focus on interview  For respondents, relatively more tolerable with long questionnaires  Enables field workers to collect contextual data from enumeration areas  100 core questions take 45-60 minutes to administer
  15. 15. Technical benefits of face-to-face interview technique (2)  Allows the collection of data from respondents who would otherwise not be able to fill in a questionnaire on their own (for example, illiterate people)  Ensures that the person responding is the one who has been selected using the sampling process  Allows interviewers to take note of the questions that respondents have difficulty answering, as well as the conditions under which interviews are conducted  Enables AB to match interviewer with respondent’s ethnicity  Prevents falsification of vital demographic information such as gender, age, race, etc.
  16. 16. Political/social benefits of face-to-face interviews  Adults in households jostle to be selected for the interview. (Men try to pull rank to be selected for the interview – a threat to sample randomness and gender parity.) AB’s big but pleasant surprise in conducting face-to-face interviews, especially in rural and peri-urban areas: Ready cooperation from respondents Keenness to participate in an hour-long interview Experience of interviewers having a hard time bringing interviews to conclusion – typically on account of interviewee volubility – reflecting respondents’ perception of the survey as empowering and belief that their views could be carried to policy makers/government
  17. 17. Disadvantages of face-to-face interviews  Costly (personnel, transportation, accommodation, incidentals)  Data quality depends on the ability of the interviewer. Uniform interviewing skills may not be guaranteed.  Interviewers’ personal biases could affect the way they input responses.  Physically inaccessible areas due to lack of infrastructure (absent or broken bridges, collapse of transport infrastructure), floods, etc.  Physical insecurity due to civil conflict, marauders, etc. may pose an unanticipated danger to field workers.  Insurmountable opposition or interference from some local authorities  Unanticipated disease outbreak
  18. 18. AB responses to physical inaccessibility challenges  AB makes substitutions of the primary sampling unit (PSU) as long as substitutions do not constitute more than 5% of all rural PSUs.  Use of electronic data collection allows for an advance spatial look at locations where fieldworkers will go.  Using a GIS mapping tool or Google Earth to see terrains, plan routes, or even make substitutions before fieldworkers go to the field can solve or mitigate some – but not all – of these challenges.  Minimize the number of fieldwork-days by recruiting larger teams of fieldworkers
  19. 19. Part 2 What type of methodological research would serve as a public good for the research community doing work in the region?
  20. 20. Methodological research for the research community doing work in Africa? A continent-wide project to map out households by merging and aggregating both population and housing data (produced by national statistical agencies) a. Would be a good data base for drawing samples b. Could be made available to survey researchers in the sector
  21. 21. Thank you

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