Impact Evaluation of USAID/Nepal's Policy Dialogue Activity (Niti Sambad) Electoral Debates and Discussions

This evaluation finds generally positive but modest and mostly short-term impacts of screenings of candidate debates and small-group discussions hosted by community radio stations ahead of federal parliamentary elections in Kanchanpur, Jhapa, and Sunsari Districts in Nepal in 2018. They improved participants’ sense of political efficacy and swayed participants’ views about the role of government and their issue priorities towards the positions held by and issues discussed by the candidates taking part in the debates. Participants’ evaluations of candidates who were judged to be the best performers in the debate became more positive. But the debate screenings and discussions did not consistently raise participants’ expectations of their Members of Parliament (MPs). In addition, explicit discussions of gender and social inclusion in the debates did not sway participants’ attitudes on these issues, nor did they affect participants’ stated preferred candidate on the endline survey.