MobiSAM 2014 baseline vs MobiSAM 2016 baseline

By: Ingrid Siebörger

As many of you are aware we undertook a baseline study of a proportion of Makana residents over the course of this year in order to understand a little bit more about the citizens of Makana. Specifically, we wanted to know if you had mobile phones and how you were using them, together with how you were currently participating or interacting with the municipality. We did a similar survey of Makana residents living in Grahamstown back in 2014. Recently, I was tasked with attempting a comparison of the two sets of results. I was able to see changes in demographics, mobile phone access and use and changes in how people interact with the municipality. The full comparison is however too long for a blog post here, so I thought I would share with you some of the more interesting bits! Specifically, I’ll reflect on mobile phone ownership, mobile phone brands, levels of satisfaction with basic municipal services and your perceptions around local people’s ability to effect change.

Mobile phones

Starting with mobile phones ownership levels; the results of the MobiSAM 2014 survey (from here on referred to as the “2014 survey”) reflected that 95.24% of people surveyed had access to a mobile phone – 90.48% owned their own phone while a further 4.76% had access to a shared phone. The remaining 4.76% did not own a phone, and did not have access to a shared phone. Similarly in the MobiSAM 2016 survey (from here on referred to as the “2016 survey”), 88.51% of the respondents own their own mobile phone and 7.88% had access to a mobile phone. Thus an overwhelming majority, of 96.40% of respondents have access to a mobile phone. The remaining 3.60% of respondents neither own a mobile phone nor have access to a shared mobile phone. What this tells us is that a significant proportion of Makana citizens own or have access to a mobile phone, strengthening the idea that our mobile phones can be used to engage with the municipality around service delivery issues.

When comparing mobile phone brands, Nokia is by far and away the most popular brand of mobile phone in the Makana Municipality. In fact, the top three most popular brands retained their positions of first, second and third in both the surveys undertaken (see Table 1). We saw a much greater variety of mobile phone brands in our second survey (which covered the whole of Makana and not just Grahamstown) which accounts for the decrease in percentage levels from one survey to the next.

Table 1: MobiSAM 1.0 popular brands on the left and MobiSAM 2.0 popular brands on the right

Table 1: MobiSAM 1.0 popular brands on the left and MobiSAM 2.0 popular brands on the right

Knowing what type of phones are prevalent in the municipality means that we are now in a position to make sure that the MobiSAM application will work for as many of your phones as possible, because we understand what software your phones are capable of installing and running.

Citizen participation

In both surveys we also asked respondents about their levels of satisfaction with the basic services provided by the municipality. Specifically, we asked you to rate the following services:

• Water
• Electricity
• Sanitation
• Refuse removal
• Roads and sidewalks
• Parks and recreation facilities
• Housing (only surveyed in the recent 2016 survey)

The results from the two surveys can be seen in Figure 1 below. From the figure you can see that the overall levels of satisfaction decreased between the 2014 survey and the 2016 survey, except for Water, which more than doubled in the percentage of respondents who were satisfied. This indicates that the work that Amatole and MBB have been doing over the last few years is appreciated by residents in the municipality. Unfortunately, the other services saw a decrease in overall levels of satisfaction (note we can’t comment on housing as we only have results for it from the latest survey). Furthermore, the only services where the majority of respondents were satisfied were Electricity and Refuse removal.

Figure 1: Service delivery satisfaction in the 2014 survey and the 2016 survey

Figure 1: Service delivery satisfaction in the 2014 survey and the 2016 survey

The last bit that I want to highlight in this blog post, was that we asked residents about their perceived levels of agency in order to effect change within the municipality, or government in general. In the 2014 survey we found that the majority of respondents felt that they could make at least “some” change (specifically 54% of respondents felt empowered to effect at least “some” change). However, two years later, in the 2016 survey, a large majority of respondents, 78.15%, felt the opposite; that the ordinary citizen or person has no ability to influence the government. We sincerely hope that through the use of MobiSAM we can help Makana citizens to engage more meaningfully with Makana Municipality and turn the sense of hopelessness around, in order to build a dialogue between the municipality and residents to the betterment of all.

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