monitoring public service in the city

A lot has happened.
So it’s high time for a brief update.

As you will know if you have followed this blog, my colleagues at Twaweza and DataVision and me started off this projected in 2010 with an extensive face-to-face interviews of a stratified sample of 550 household in Dar es Salaam.

Those respondents who had access to a mobile phone (about 83%) were asked to participate in our mobile phone follow up survey. As an incentive to regularly answer questions through the phone, credit top-ups were offered as incentives to respond to the weekly set of questions.

To reduce selection bias in our mobile phone panel waves, much effort was invested in trying to get those people into the panel that originally did not own a phone. At this point, 20 phones have been handed out and a team of researchers is currently going to back to baseline respondents to distribute more phones.

By now, the mobile panel of around 350 active respondents is part of the World Bank-funded Urban Public Service Monitoring Project. Every two weeks, participants are approached with a short set of questions on their daily lives and their experiences with public services in the city.

For each survey round, I write up a report that is then translated into Swahili, published online and distributed to different stakeholders and journalists in the city. The first round focused on water infrastructure, followed by a survey on education, the health system, urban governance, electricity and consumption (see graphs for some ideas about the type of questions that are being addressed with this exciting new data gathering tool).

For the full reports and data files, visit the projects new website at

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