Why Afro­barom­e­ter should be taken se­ri­ously

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

ADVISION Le­sotho yes­ter­day re­leased the re­sults of Round 6 of the Afro­barom­e­ter Le­sotho Na­tional Survey, which high­light Ba­sotho’s views on crit­i­cal po­lit­i­cal is­sues in their own coun­try.

The Le­sotho Times ( LT) re­porter, Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane, spoke to Advision Project Man­ager, Libuseng Male­phane, about the survey and its sig­nif­i­cance to Le­sotho.

LT: Could you please ex­plain to us what this Afro­barom­e­ter survey is all about?

Male­phane: Afro­barom­e­ter is an in­de­pen­dent and non-par­ti­san re­search project which mea­sures the so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic at­mos­phere in Africa.

It is a com­par­a­tive se­ries of pub­lic at­ti­tude sur­veys, cov­er­ing up to 35 African coun­tries.

It mea­sures pub­lic at­ti­tudes on democ­racy and its al­ter­na­tives, eval­u­a­tions of the qual­ity of gov­er­nance and eco­nomic per­for­mance.

Ad­di­tional survey top­ics in­clude elec­tions, mi­cro-eco­nomics and mar­kets, poverty, con­flict and crime, pub­lic-par­tic­i­pa­tion and na­tional iden­tity.

In ad­di­tion, the survey as­sesses the views of the elec­torate on crit­i­cal po­lit­i­cal is­sues in the sur­veyed coun­tries. The Afro­barom­e­ter also pro­vides com­par­isons over time, as five rounds of the sur­veys have been held from 1999 to 2012. We are re­leas­ing re­sults for Round 6 for 2014-2015. The sur­veys are re­peated on a reg­u­lar cy­cle.

Trends in pub­lic at­ti­tudes are tracked over time, and re­sults are shared with decision-mak­ers, pol­icy ad­vo­cates, civic ed­u­ca­tors, jour­nal­ists, re­searchers, donors and in­vestors, as well as av­er­age Africans who wish to be­come more in­formed and ac­tive cit­i­zens.

Male­phane: Advision Le­sotho is a con­sult­ing company con­tracted by Afro­barom­e­ter to con­duct the study in Le­sotho. In other words, Afro­barom­e­ter’s work in Le­sotho is co­or­di­nated by Advision Le­sotho.

Field­work for Round 6 was con­ducted in Le­sotho from 3 May 2014 to 30 May 2014. The survey in­ter­viewed 1200 adult Ba­sotho.

LT: And what is Advision Le­sotho? What is its re­la­tion­ship with Afro­barom­e­ter?

LT: What is the im­por­tance of th­ese sur­veys? Male­phane: Like I said, the re­sults of th­ese sur­veys are dis­sem­i­nated to decision-mak­ers, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, civic ed­u­ca­tors, the me­dia, re­searchers, in­vestors and or­di­nary cit­i­zens.

The main ob­jec­tive of th­ese sur­veys is to present pub­lic views on is­sues con­cern­ing how they are gov­erned, democ­racy and its al­ter­na­tives and the eco­nomic per­for­mance of the coun­try.

The sur­veys are a good plat­form for the peo­ple to re­flect their views to those in au­thor­ity.

The re­sults are used by groups of peo­ple I men­tioned above to make poli­cies, to make re­ports, to make changes in gov­er­nance, to im­ple­ment new strate­gies and so on, in line with the pub­lic’s views.

The ul­ti­mate goal is for the decision-mak­ers to make con­sul­ta­tive de­ci­sions.

LT: How do you con­duct the sur­veys?

As I said, the Round 6 survey in Le­sotho was con­ducted by in­ter­view­ing 1200 adult Ba­sotho. By adult we mean peo­ple aged 18 years and above. The study was con­ducted through­out the coun­try this way: We have what we call Enu­mer­a­tion Ar­eas, or EAS, which we iden­tify in all the 10 dis­tricts of Le­sotho.

Each EA’S area of survey is de­ter­mined by the den­sity of the pop­u­la­tion.

For in­stance, in ur­ban ar­eas, we have vil­lages with a high den­sity pop­u­la­tion which means an ur­ban-based EA could be rel­a­tively smaller than another EA in the ru­ral ar­eas where vil­lages with a small pop­u­lace are scat­tered.

How­ever, what is stan­dard is that we se­lected eight house­holds from each EA for our in­ter­views.

We only in­ter­view one mem­ber who is 18 years or above from each of the eight house­holds. We also make sure that from the eight in­ter­vie­wees we met in each of the EAS, four of them are males and another four should be fe­males. This is for pur­poses of a gen­der sen­si­tive and bal­anced survey out­come.

LT: What are the ques­tions you ask peo­ple, if you could men­tion but a few?

Male­phane: We ask very sim­ple and straight­for­ward ques­tions. We do not use the word ‘why’ in our ques­tion­naires. Ex­am­ples of the ques­tions in­clude: Do you think democ­racy, the way it is be­ing prac­ticed in Le­sotho, is the best the type of gov­er­nance the coun­try should adopt?

And the an­swer would just be no or yes. Other ex­am­ples in­clude: In gen­eral, how do you rate your liv­ing con­di­tions com­pared to those of other Ba­sotho?

How do you rate eco­nomic con­di­tions in this coun­try com­pared to twelve months ago?

How free are you in this coun­try? There are many ways to gov­ern a coun­try, would you ap­prove or dis­ap­prove of the fol­low­ing? What, if any­thing, does democ­racy mean to you?

Which of the fol­low­ing state­ments is clos­est to your opin­ion? Over­all, how sat­is­fied are you with the way democ­racy works in Le­sotho?

You see the Round 6 survey came at the right time when it was ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­one that Le­sotho was go­ing through po­lit­i­cal tur­moil. So the re­port will re­flect how Ba­sotho feel about the way they are be­ing gov­erned or whether they embrace the style of democ­racy that we have, or not.

LT: Be­sides Advision Le­sotho and Afro­barom­e­ter, which are the other part­ners in this project?

Male­phane: For the suc­cess of this project since its es­tab­lish­ment in 2000, we work to­gether with the fol­low­ing part­ners: Univer­sity of Cape Town (UCT) and Michi­gan Univer­sity in USA, which as­sist by pro­vid­ing ex­per­tise for the project.

We also have, as fun­ders, the World Bank, US Aid and oth­ers. The UCT also helps in the ca­pac­ity build­ing of our of­fi­cials who con­duct the re­search.

This survey is of much na­tional im­por­tance that, if well dis­sem­i­nated and con­sid­ered by those in power to bring change, Le­sotho could be­come a much bet­ter place than it is now.

Advision Project Man­ager Libuseng Male­phane.

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