Commissioned by the World Bank Group (WBG) and International FinanceCorporation (IFC) in Afghanistan, the Business Pulse Survey (BPS) is a high-frequency survey to assess the evolving economic implications of the COVID-19pandemic on small, medium, and large enterprises across Kabul, Herat, Balkh,Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces. The findings of the survey will enable anevidence-based response to the crisis by the Afghan government and its development partners.
Given its decade-long experience of working with Afghan businesses, PHC was contracted to conduct the BPS survey with a rapid approach to enable quick data collection and analysis with a robust research design that would best represent small,medium, and large enterprises across the five economic regions. In light of the rapidly evolving situation around COVID-19, face-to-face interviews were not possible, andPHC conducted a phone-based survey of firms.
The survey design relied on the population of enterprises provided in the BusinessEstablishment Survey 2015 by the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA)to design a sampling approach. The sample size was determined considering a 95%confidence level, targeting a total of 400 enterprises in the manufacturing, services and agriculture sectors. The sample used a proportional stratification based on sector,province, and firm size. The provincial distribution of the interviews was as follows:120 interviews in Kabul, 120 in Herat, 80 in Balkh, 40 in Kandahar, and 40 in Nangarhar.
PHC’s in-house database of 35,000 active business across the five regions –combined with its collaboration with and receipt of additional lists of businesses from industry partners such as ICC-A, ACIM, ACCI, KCCI, etc. – allowed a fast and reliable random sampling of enterprises without conducting a preliminary mapping exercise.
Primary Data Collection
PHC’s extensive experience of conducting research with businesses in Afghanistan and local knowledge effectively supported the rapid nature of the BPS. PHC quickly mobilized its research specialists, econometricians, and experienced home-basedenumerators to conduct phone-based interviews using tablets that were set up in advance. PHC utilized SuveyCTO – a robust platform for mobile-based and online data collection – to set up the online questionnaire, customize the mobile app for enumerators, and organize a rapid data collection process with strong data assurance and quality control measures such as audio audits, automated quality checks, speed limits, and real-time data monitoring.
The questions assessed six groups of parameters including the current state of operations, channels affecting the businesses (i.e. impact on employees, sales, demand for products, supply of inputs, etc.), adjustment mechanisms, policy response needs, expectations of the future, and baseline. PHC’s quality control protocols allowed its supervisors and the WBG staff to monitor the data collection process in real time using SurveyCTO’s online dashboard.
Data Analysis & Reporting
PHC’s econometricians analyzed the cleaned and validated data using STATA and produced a comprehensive report with descriptive statistics, correlations, and regressions analyzing impacts such as reductions in sales, employment adjustments,and changes in business practices with control variables such as firm size, sector,location, export-orientation, investment, revenue, etc. The analysis will allow for comparison of the baseline results with two upcoming rounds of the survey to gauge the recovery of the businesses in three-month periods through December 2020.
Key Results & Capabilities
The successful completion of the BPS as part of a series of surveys in South Asian countries to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses is a major milestone forPHC and its local partners. The survey’s results inform evidence-based policy responses at multiple fronts and will continue to build a stronger understanding of the conditions of Afghan firms.
Business Pulse Survey - Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses in Afghanistan
PHC interviewed 550 firms in agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on these businesses in five major economic regions of Afghanistan, sampled through a multi-phased stratification from PHC’s database of over 35,000 active businesses and lists contributed by business associations.
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