Tribal people using Twitter to discuss service delivery issues: WB

Published March 14, 2021
Strong evidence has been found that people in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) use Twitter to communicate about service delivery issues and this phenomenon is increasing. — AP/File
Strong evidence has been found that people in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) use Twitter to communicate about service delivery issues and this phenomenon is increasing. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Strong evidence has been found that people in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) use Twitter to communicate about service delivery issues and this phenomenon is increasing, according to a World Bank research.

Tweets about service delivery have been dominated by the topics of access to clean water, education, economic development and healthcare. There is also a significant interest in areas of energy access and natural resources.

While spikes in the sub-category of water seem to indicate a water crisis in 2018, it would be noted that the spike which seems to be most prevalent in 2020 is the issue of food security.

Overall sentiments towards service delivery seem to be increasing since 2018, potentially due to impact of the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and associated development efforts. The lowest sentiment tweets seem to be about healthcare and economic development, whereas the highest sentiment tweets seem to be about natural resources and education.

Says the highest sentiment tweets seem about natural resources and education

Wheat and sugar very often appeared in tweets with prices and it can be validated that these tweets relate to hunger and food security, according to the research paper released on Thursday.

The World Bank policy research working paper used Twitter data and examined development priorities of citizens in the northwest region of Pakistan between 2007 and 2020, using natural language processing techniques and sentiment analysis of 9.5 million tweets generated by 20,000 unique Twitter users.

The analysis revealed that service delivery priorities in this context are centered on education, healthcare, food, and clean water. The findings provide baseline data for future on-the-ground research and development initiatives.

Early-adopters of Twitter in the erstwhile tribal areas used this social networking service mainly for interpersonal speech and in contrast the rise in the use of Twitter has coincided with a different distribution concerns as the ratio of the people tweeting about service delivery has increased from less than 10 per cent of users before 2012 to over 40pc of users in 2020.

Evidence has been found that within the erstwhile tribal areas, there is significant geographical distribution, with fourteen geographical clusters tweeting about service delivery in a roughly uniform distribution. Users in big cities, like Peshawar and Abbottabad, tweet about service delivery significantly less than users in rural areas.

The research found that among Twitter users active in erstwhile tribal areas in the past two years, service delivery is a widespread concern, though there is some evidence that the conditions may be improving. On the other hand, there is some evidence suggesting that it would be beneficial to further investigate the potentially growing threat of food insecurity in addition to persistent concerns of access to clean water, education, healthcare and economic development.

It has been observed that the top 50 words and top 50 bigrams are related to each key word in the tweets. Some frequently co-occurring words or bigrams present an easy case.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2021

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