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Setting the methodology aside, I found some of the results curious to say the least.  Seemingly 58% of Ugandan's interviewed felt that oil and gas had a positive, or very positive impact on their own lives, similar to the percentages for Ghana (61%), Tanzania (63%), and Mozambique (53%) and higher than that in Canada (46%), one of the highest per capita oil and gas producers in the world.  Given that commercial production in Uganda has yet to start, what can this positive impact of oil and gas on the majority of Ugandans, personally have been?   Even more surprisingly, 36% of Ugandans thought oil and gas had had a positive or very positive impact on the environment.  In Ghana and Tanzania it was 51%.   Speaking as a petroleum geologist, to believe the oil and gas sector has had a positive impact on the environment seems irrational.  No harm is about the best the industry can aim for.  Before taking the results of the survey as a general endorsement of the the extractives sector, the organisers of the survey should perhaps delve deeper into what lies behind what appear to be some illogical responses. 

Thanks for this interesting debate, having worked in this area, I cannot pass this opportunity to comment on this important endeavor. I applaud WB's effort to understand perceptions of stakeholders about impact of mining. This is a great start, these kind of data should be collected regularly, compared across countries, and policy-makers should be informed of the results. However, we should make the methodology and format a well-thought through to inform policy-making. I agree with Ian Gary's comment about "the surveys results are not useful". As long as the survey format is web-based, the results are not useful because of sampling bias. If it is in Canada or developed countries exclusively, web-based survey may make sense, but in most developing countries that I know, if you target people with access to web browsing, you are targeting those people with access to basic infrastructure such as electricity, computer, and internet. These people are often well-off, certainly not poor, and live in urban areas with little interaction with mining.  If the goal is to understand the impact of mining in the developing countries, you should be including especially the less privileged and less well-off people in the survey to understand the impacts of mining. To reduce biased results, the survey cannot be web-based to begin with, and surveys need to target local communities who are most often in remote areas with little access to infrastructure and who are directly being impacted by the mines. The surveys should be face to face, in format of town-hall community meetings or individual interviews. 

Thanks and best, 


Dear Ian,
Thanks for the blog post. On behalf of the World Bank Insitute team that commissioned the survey, I wish to acknowledge your point on the fact that the survey, by being web based, is not representative of mining or oil/gas affected communities, and we in no way claim that it is. By design, this was a pilot survey testing the nanosurvey approach suitability for sampling a general public. I believe it shows its potential as a tool (which will grow along with web penetration) that can complement other survey approaches, such as household surveys that can be targeted to communities directly affected by mining or oil/gas production.

As long as we are very aware of the limitations of the survey in terms of reach and the need to balance with other data points, the findings do still have value in giving insight into national level perceptions of the sector. The surprisingly positive perceptions of the industry’s contribution to country development among those sampled need careful interpretation – for example this may link to inflated expectations that will not be born out, and need to be more effectively managed. It may suggest a lack of appreciation in urban centers - most notably capital cities, as for Maputo that you reference - for the true costs of extraction felt in other parts of the country. Although, taking Canada with high web penetration, you find positive perceptions of mining contributions higher among respondents in mining rich Quebec than Nova Scotia that does not have significant mining.

Certainly the results in terms of sources of information, suggest possible entry points for engagement with citizens to build greater understanding of the sector, the stakes at play, and its true impacts. Such engagement is something that Oxfam itself has an admirable track record of supporting, such as in Ghana.

As web penetration continues to grow, the methodology will have broader application. It allows for truly randomized surveying gathering non-incented responses. While you highlight the gender imbalance for the Mozambique results for the overall survey there is essentially an even gender split of the 16000+ complete responses. As you say we just need to be very much aware of whom this approach can reach and make sure it is integrated with other methodologies that do sample and provide critical perspectives, most obviously those communities directly affected who typically face the highest costs. We would welcome the chance to explore a possible consortium of organizations, including Oxfam, to consider what might make for the most effective combination of methodologies.

I look forward to the views of GOXIans on the interim findings (acknowledging its limitations in terms of reach) whether on the views of extractives impacts, whether they suggest a trust deficit in sources re available sources of information, or the demand for more information than currently available. Full raw data is freely available to download and assess with that in mind.