The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving. Case numbers are increasing, and governments restrictions are changing frequently. While the social and economic impacts of the global pandemic are cross-cutting, the effects are particularly damaging for the poor and vulnerable, with potentially devastating and long-lasting consequences. Policymakers need timely and relevant information on the impacts of the crisis as well as the effectiveness of their policy measures to save lives and support livelihoods.
The World Bank and partners are monitoring the crisis and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 through a series of high-frequency phone surveys, as countries move through the pandemic and into economic recovery. In-person surveys are often impossible due to social distancing, making phone surveys an attractive option given its track record for successfully collecting timely data to inform evidence during crises.
Overview of High-Frequency Monitoring by the World Bank
The World Bank has significant experience using phone surveys to monitor welfare in many circumstances, including in times of crisis and in response to emergencies. As documented in the book Data Collection in Fragile States: Innovations from Africa and Beyond, phone surveys were successfully rolled out during the Ebola crisis and have been used to monitor the impact of extreme climate events. The first initiatives, Listening to Africa and Listening to LAC, date back to 2011. While in most cases these surveys have been short-lived, some of them have been running for many years. For example, Listening to Tajikistan, a panel survey, has been under implementation for more than five years and over 62 survey rounds.
To respond swiftly to the growing demand for household phone surveys that will capture responses to and welfare impacts of COVID-19, the World Bank Poverty and Equity Global Practice (GP) and the Development Data Group (DECDG), together with many other Global Practices, partnered to develop survey tools and technical guidelines to better assess the effects of COVID-19 and support country teams that are rapidly moving to design and implement phone survey systems across all regions.
World Bank-supported phone surveys to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on households and individuals are under preparation or being implemented in more than 100 countries across all developing regions.
The surveys cover important topics including knowledge and concerns about the pandemic, access to food and other basic needs, employment and income loss, and safety nets and coping strategies. The design is flexible, so that the topics covered can be altered according to evolving needs, priorities, and insights from emerging data.
- Overview of the initiative
- Guidelines on sampling for high-frequency phone surveys
- A questionnaire template, with core and optional modules, accompanied by an overview and a manual, and
- Guidelines on the implementation of Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) -based data collection.