Background: In the lead up to the Solomon Island’s 2014 National General Election, the Solomon Island Electoral Commission (SIEC) conducted a range of Voter Awareness Programs (VAPs). These programs were designed to enhance voter engagement with the electoral system and improve voter awareness of key electoral issues.
In 2015, Sustineo conducted a national level survey to provide an evidence-based assessment of the performance of the VAPs, establish a baseline data set to assist with future monitoring and evaluation, and to inform future communication messaging and funding decisions.
Approach: Sustineo employed an approach that combined the methodological rigour of academic research with a targeted approach to fulfilling the practical requirements of SIEC and UNDP. The project methodology was based on a representative sample of the voter population of the Solomon Islands, with a focus on key variables of gender, location, age, and education levels. A total of 1,332 respondents were surveyed from 14 enumeration areas, randomly identified by the National Statistics Office, across five provinces within the Solomon Islands.
The survey was developed based on close consultation between Sustineo’s experts, SIEC and UNDP through the design, revision, translation and pilot stages. The process of survey refinement was critical to the success of the project, with the final set of questions targeted towards SIEC’s key priorities and piloted to ensure consistency in phrasing and meaning in both English and Solomon Islands Pijin. Sustineo recruited, trained and coordinated a local research team for the conduct of the survey, collaborating with SIEC during the training to provide their insight regarding the electoral process. The survey was conducted in Solomon Islands Pijin, with potential points of misunderstanding rectified during training and piloting.
The survey results were analysed with targeted investigation of priority areas, as identified with SIEC and UNDP. The analysis drew on the appropriate analytical techniques, with survey responses summarised using frequencies of various responses to each question and then converted to percentages of total responses to aid interpretation.
Outcome: The final report provided a comprehensive assessment of key aspects of voter knowledge, attitudes and practice related to electoral systems in the Solomon Islands. The survey results produced baseline information regarding electoral behaviours and provided important insight into the effectiveness of key communication channels used in the VAPs. The final report provided recommendations for policy makers to more effectively target messages towards key demographics, and gave guidance regarding which aspects of the electoral system needed to be subject to greater attention within the VAPs. Project outcomes were noted by UNDP as being beyond their expectations and informed future strategy development regarding VAPs as well as inform the communication channels used by SIEC.