Survey Data for Better Information Delivery

Meeting the information needs - both in terms of content and delivery mechanism -of citizens is critical for the effective implementation of earthquake relief programs. 

Data is an important tool to make decisions. Without it, we remain clueless about the needs of citizens within a country, district or village. The needs of citizens are critical for the implementation of development programs, media programming and government interventions. But, where is the data to help drive such decision making? Over the past three weeks, our friends from Accountability Labs and Local Intervention Group have been collecting survey data on the post disaster needs of citizens from 10 out of the 14 affected districts. I have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to scrape and analyze the data from their survey. Many of the survey results were fascinating, and we also learned a lot about the process of surveying in Nepal.

The questions asked in the survey were:

  • What are your three most important needs?

  • Do you feel like the right people are getting support?

  • Are you supporting in the relief efforts?

  • What is your opinion on the relief so far?

  • What information do you need to recover?

We will delve deeper into different aspects of the the survey data over the coming weeks, but for this episode, we are focused on relating information needs of citizens found from the survey with the available facilities for information consumption in Nepal.

Firstly, what information do citizens need to help them recover from the earthquake?

The main concern for citizens throughout the 10 districts we surveyed is information concerning government decisions. This in itself is indicative of the current government and media’s ability to make local populations aware of the decisions the Nepali government is making to support citizens for post disaster relief. Programming should focus on how government decision making process occurs, how to involve citizen grievances into government decision making and the current ordinances passed by the government in regards to post disaster relief.

The information needs also differ based on geography. Any form of programming should take into consideration and then tailor the varied issues that citizens face depending on their location. The limitations to this survey were that age/gender/ethnicity/wealth/etc. were not collected as part of this survey. This information is curcial in allowing us to disaggregate and analayze trends that are dependent on certain demographics. Future surveys that we conduct will better collect such information.

In almost every district "information about government decisions" was in most demand, whereas their was very little interest in crop/livestock prices. While all the other categories differ in demand based on the district of the surveryor. High demand for "information about government decisions" indicates that most citizens have not had their information needs met, and that the government and media's efforts inform citizens about post disaster support have not been succesful. More effort should be made by the media and government to ensure that all citizens have access to information concenring post disaster delivery services.

 

Now we know the information citizens want, how can ensure that this information gets to them? 

If you are trying to create community radio programs for affected communities, what information should you impart to help citizens access government services and fulfill their information needs? Firstly, is radio the right tool to use for the spread of information?

Yes. Again, data tells us the answer. The data found in the “National Population and Housing Census 2011” allows us to disaggregate the facilities in which citizens consume media. In 7 out of 10 districts (Nuwakot, Dhading, Rasuwa, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha, Kavrepalanchowk), the main media facility is radio. 3 out of 10 (Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Lalitpur) districts main facility for information is the TV. The lack of internet penetration is especially apparent as only 3 out of 10 districts (Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Lalitpur) have above 10%  internet facilities.

 

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Radio as a household facility is the most prevalent information facility in Nepal. This demonstrates how programs on access to information for citizens should be primarily directed through radio. Although, information could be disseminated on the TV for issues that primarily affect Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kavrepalanchowk as a higher percentage of citizens in that area have TVs. In Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur, internet (social media, online news, e-government services, etc.) as a means of communication could also be used to make the population aware of information, but such methods would be ineffective in most of the other disaster affected regions.

This information is only indicative of facilities in their own house, and not what they might hear outside their homes or from print publications.

 

By joining up crowd-sourced data with offical data, evidence based decision making is developed.

Radio programs that attempt to inform the citizens should be developed around their needs, not on what we perceive their needs to be. Using Accountability Lab’s and Local Interventions Group’s survey, we are able to develop a methodology for delivering important news based on the needs of each district. When one looks at the three most important information concerns of different districts according to citizens, community radio programming could be more easily developed on these relevant issues by improving the effectiveness of information sharing, such as media programs, to inform citizens.

 

District

Top Facility

Top 3 Information Needs

Lalitpur

TV

  1. Government decisions

  2. Which NGO/INGO support where

  3. Finding Missing People

Kavrepalanchowk

Radio

  1. Government decisions

  2. Finding Missing People

  3. Relocation

Kathmandu

TV

  1. Government decisions

  2. Relocation

  3. Info on monsoon

Gorkha

Radio

  1. Government decisions

  2. Which INGO/NGO support where

  3. Crop/Livestock prices

Sindhupalchowk

Radio

  1. Government decisions

  2. Finding missing people

  3. Relocation

Dolakha

Radio

  1. Government decisions

  2. Which INGO/NGO support where

  3. Finding missing people

Rasuwa

Radio

  1. Info on monsoon

  2. Finding missing people

  3. Communicate with the government

Dhading

Radio

  1. Government decisions

  2. Which INGO/NGO support where

  3. Relocation

Nuwakot

Radio

  1. Government decisions

  2. Relocation

  3. Crop/livestock prices

Bhaktapur

TV

  1. Government decisions

  2. Relocation

  3. Which INGO/NGO support where

Data should be considered a critical component of any action. It provides an insightful and meaningful manner in which to help drive the decision making process - potentially making it more effective than other methods for reducing poverty and helping citizens with their information needs.