Malaybalay Integrated Survey System: A Planning Platform for Responsive Governance
Programs and services are appropriate and responsive when accurate data is gathered about the needs and desires of the beneficiaries. This is often the reason why government agencies carry out surveys. But if these surveys are done haphazardly and without coordination, they end up wasting time, effort and resources.
The city government of Malaybalay is aware of the sort of problems that occur when its various departments conducted separate surveys. To address this concern, the Malabalay’s Planning and Development Office developed the Malaybalay Integrated Survey System (MISS). The system integrated data gathering at the barangay level.
They patterned the MISS questionnaire after the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. But it was tailored to fit the needs of the different departments of the city government. The CBMS has about 100 questions while the MISS has 231. The MISS was rolled out in March 2008 and computers were provided to all the 46 barangays of the city.
A distinct feature of the MISS is that the survey is conducted by the 420 Barangay Health Workers (BHW) and midwives who are mostly women. A data processing program was developed by the in-house programmers of the city government so that the BHW could carry out the data processing themselves. About 98 percent of the BHWs were initially not computer literate but were able to learn quickly. In training the BHW, the city government shouldered expenses for the board, lodging and training materials while the barangay councils provided the transportation of the participants.
When the survey was being conducted, the barangay councils coordinated with the households and transported the BHW to and from the survey areas. The city government, meanwhile, paid an honorarium of P1,000 to each of the BHW after the survey was conducted.
The data gathered by the BHW include basic demographic information as well as the status and profile of the households— such as how many have sanitary toilets, malnourished children, and pregnant women. The processed data was then linked with the city’s Geographic Information System.
Since the survey covers all the households in the city, the information gives a true graphical picture of the status of the constituents. With the data, the city and barangay planners have a very good basis for development and action planning. In fact, the data was used in drawing up the barangay development plans of all the 46 barangays as well as the action plans of four departments of the city government.
Plans are afoot to share the data with all the departments and the local development councils. This would facilitate the delivery of social services to the survey respondents or the beneficiaries. This is in line with the city government’s aim to institutionalize relevant and responsive projects that address the actual needs of its constituents.
The MISS program has also started making the city government more gender responsive and results-oriented. Already, the planning and budgeting process has started to be more gender fair thanks to the expansion of the UNIFEM’s Gender Responsive and Results Based (GRRB) program. The GRRB is a comprehensive program that puts in place support structures and a budget for activities that help improve the status of women.
Compliance of the barangay councils in undertaking the project is ensured by using the MISS data to evaluate their governance performance. If the barangay is delivering appropriate services, the MISS would show that there are indeed improvements in the status of the households. But the MISS household needs remain unaddressed. In which case, the allocation of funds would be prioritized for projects that address these needs.
The MISS required a substantial financial outlay at the start. However, the money is well spent because the households stand to reap the benefits due to better delivery of social services.