“What is your main source of drinking water?” “Does your household own a refrigerator or freezer?” “A motorcycle, scooter, car or other vehicle?” The questions in the Pakistan PPI are simple, but it’s hard to get answers for a variety of reasons, according to Javed Baig, Joint Director, OCT.
The poor clients are reluctant to give names, ages and national ID numbers of their females, especially of young females in their households. The male data collectors cannot cross the drawing room (guest entertainment room) to enter the home to verify the answers.
Women can enter client homes, but they have to get to them first. Females cannot travel alone on public transportation among villages. And providing private transportation increases the cost of data collection. Male collectors can collect data after sunset, which is necessary during wheat harvesting season in order to find clients at home. But women are not allowed by their families and social norms to work at night.
These are among the challenges facing the Microfinance Organization Network of Pakistan (MON-Pak), a network of microfinance organizations established by OPP-OCT and spanning four provinces: Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Azad Jamu, and Kashmir. Plan International supports MON-Pak’s efforts to implement the PPI among its members, most of them in Sindh, where the PPI is administered in Sindhi.
Many households also are confused by other surveys being conducted as well as the PPI. In some of the same villages, private and governmental organizations have asked questions similar to those in the PPI. The recent Benazir Income Support Program, a governmental social protection program, is one. In addition, some clients wonder why MFIs are asking the same questions which were being asked in the loan appraisal, and why the PPI responses can’t be taken from that information. Since the population census collected similar data at household levels, clients wonder why MFIs are asking these questions when they are not census collectors. And clients fear that giving information about their assets and income will make them subject to taxes.
Finally, after answering questions, clients expect to see results. In this way, the PPI survey itself can raise expectations. Clients sometimes look for cash or in-kind support to help solve the problems they have described. Women in particular have asked the data collectors to help with their children’s education, drinking water, and the non-availability of toilets.
MON-Pak is working to address these challenges by building confidence in the PPI among clienst, restricting data collection by females until sunlight and explaining to clients how the PPI differs from other surveys.
Muhammad Awais is a guest blogger on the Progress Out of Poverty blog. As the Regional Microfinance Advisor for Plan International in Asia, Awais focuses on helping integrate social performance metrics into Plan International’s work. He brings a great perspective from the MFI practitioner as well as from the network level of how to integrate SPM tools like the PPI into operations. He is based in Bangkok.