How satisfied are you, asks government

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Desie Heita

Windhoek-The country’s first ever survey to gauge the satisfaction of the citizenry with government services has kicked off, to help inform government where to concentrate its energies more.

This is amid the challenge of untrusting households that are wary about ‘officials’ knocking on their door, but who are actually fraudsters and thieves masquerading as enumerators. The Citizen Satisfaction Survey aims at capturing the level of satisfaction with government services among the public, and, where the satisfaction is found wanting, to come up with specific recommendations for government agencies and ministries in areas that need improvement. Ministries, state-owned enterprises and government agencies, whose services are found non-satisfactory by the public, would be required to come up with working plans to address those very shortcomings.

“Participating in the survey will both be a learning experience for the public and an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of public service delivery across Namibia,” says Deon van Zyl, the chief policy analyst in the Directorate Public Service Innovation and Reform in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The survey started already on May 10 with enumerators on the ground in rural and urban areas across the 14 regions of the country, and is scheduled to run for a period of three months. The enumerators would be visiting households to engage people who are 21 years of age and above, and those who have made use of specific services offered by government ministries and agencies, on their experiences of accessing and using such services.

There are 85 enumerators currently in the field, Van Zyl said in an exclusive interview with New Era. The field enumerators are identified by their brown caps and T-shirts, they carry identification tags and have a letter of endorsement signed by the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Advocate Nangula Mbako, with contact numbers for verification.

Van Zyl said the contact numbers were deliberately given to remove any doubts and for cautious households to easily call the head office for own peace of mind.

He said this is because of recent criminal activities in which fraudsters and thieves go around to households disguised as field enumerators for some non-existent survey, which has caused many households to be very cautious and even dismissive of genuine enumerators.

“This will be one of the largest surveys of its kind conducted on the African continent,” he said, adding that participation is voluntary and data collected would be treated as confidential and anonymous.

The findings from the survey would form part of the government’s performance monitoring and evaluation system.

Essentially, the survey wants to assess citizens’ access and user experience with services such as health, taxation, education including primary and secondary, and tertiary education at state universities, access to tertiary education financing through the student financial assistance fund, level of professionalism among public servants serving at various government ministries and the credibility and reliability of information given out by government offices.

The list of government services being assessed for citizens’ satisfaction is endless and broad, going as far as to assess satisfaction with competence of staff or personnel, their courtesy level when serving people, the security of citizens when visiting premises for whatever services, and the response time. It touches on many sectors from safety and security to Namibia Post and Telecommunications, labour courts, and the services of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

The target is to collect responses to 18 000 questionnaires from 3 740 households on all the 13 service areas being surveyed. The respondents would be those who have made use of such services in the last 12 months. This is because the survey wants to interact with people who have had actual interaction with the services, so that the responses are not mere perceptions but real experience of how government services are rendered to the public.

The split between rural and urban would also allow for an informed finding on how service is rendered, and the satisfaction levels, between urban and rural citizens.

“The aim is to improve services and depending on the findings, the concerned directorate, SOE or ministry would have to produce a work plan that takes into consideration the recommendations made in the final report,” said Van Zyl.

At the end of the survey there would be a general public report as well as specific reports for the concerned public institutions. The public would be encouraged to ensure that public institutions act on the recommendations made, as a way to hold them accountable. The finding report from the survey is expected sometime in August this year.

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