More than 673,828 children in the poorest areas of Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe have beneﬁted from Camfed’s innovative girls’ education programs. Investing in girls and women is a proven way to improve the health and wealth of a whole nation. To monitor its program in the ﬁeld, the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) used Magpi for mobile data collection and integrates with Salesforce.com for visualization. The solution is full-featured, inexpensive, cloud-based, easy to implement, and multi-platform.
Introduction: Promoting Girls’ Education
Camfed is dedicated to fighting poverty, gender disparities and HIV/AIDS in rural Africa by educating girls and investing in their economic independence and leadership once they complete school. Since 1993, Camfed has been working in partnership with rural communities in Africa to set in motion a virtuous cycle of change. There are currently programs in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Communications and program monitoring information has always been central to Camfed’s work. Monitoring systems enable them to gather in-depth and highly accurate program statistics. The ability for Camfed to collect and communicate this information to their constituents – to people within the communities where they work, as well as to their donors – has been crucial in their success to date.
Monitoring and evaluation in Camfed had previously been based on a labour intensive process with data being collected by volunteers on paper forms which were in turn posted or delivered to district and national offices. The information was then entered manually into a programme database hosted in Microsoft Access – held in the partner countries, with extracts transferred periodically to the UK office. Whilst this was a powerful data storage tool it lacked the flexibility required to accommodate all information in a fast growing environment. It also made data extraction very difficult and was prone to data integrity errors and corruption.
In 2010 this system was replaced with a customization of Salesforce.com, an online fundraising platform that Camfed has adapted to act as a program database for information on all people, schools and districts that it works with, tracking meetings, trainings, financial records and audit processes amongst others. In 2010 Camfed embarked on a project to upgrade its data collection systems using the new cloud based database, basic mobile phones and Magpi as the main collection platform. The intended benefits of the new system for Camfed were improved efficiency, better data quality and the eradication of time delays. The roll-out of the mobile phones with Magpi started with Ghana in 2010, followed by Zambia in 2011 and proceeded to Tanzania and Malawi in 2012.
Camfed used Magpi to collect data on all aspects of its bursary and post school programme. A short summary of data points collected is included below. All data being submitted to Camfed were collected by district volunteers and teachers in partner schools creating a powerful resource in the target communities. These volunteers, many graduates of the bursary programme, were provided with mobile phones with Magpi and technical training. For these users, the training and their participation had the added benefit of raising their skill levels and employment prospects.
Magpi brought the benefits of an easy to use tool that was hosted on basic mobile phones (standard Nokia feature phones were used by Camfed) with low running costs and reliable real time data. Since the application was hosted on basic phones, the training and support burden was relatively low. The use of basic mobiles also reduced the risk of phone loss since the technology was no more desirable than items that were already available.
Magpi provided an essential platform for the successful roll-out of mobile phone technology for Camfed’s innovative monitoring and evaluation system.