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LSMS high-frequency phone surveys on COVID-19


As part of a global effort by the World Bank, LSMS launched high-frequency phone surveys in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria 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 launched, in collaboration with our NSO partners and World Bank colleagues, a series of high-frequency phone surveys in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda, building on the existing LSMS-ISA longitudinal surveys, 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 and are conducted in collaboration with the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity Global Practice. 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 LSMS-ISA investment in the capacity 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 LSMS-ISA 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.


An LSMS-ISA Status Update, as of July 1, 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 Malawi, Uganda and Burkina Faso. Ethiopia and Nigeria have completed the second round of data collection and are preparing for the third round. The second round of Malawi is launching the first week of July. Further data releases are expected in the month of July.


Contributing to the Global Effort to Operationalize Phone Surveys

In collaboration with our World Bank colleagues in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, the LSMS team has been contributing to the development of a set of harmonized instruments and tools that can be readily adopted by as many countries and implementers as possible with little initial fixed costs. These are available in the “Resources” section below.




The resources and available data and results are presented by country below. Results of subsequent rounds will be added as soon as they become available.



A COVID-19 testing center in Madagascar © Henitsoa Rafalia/World Bank