Field Report: Supporting WASH and Health with Mobile in DR Congo
Norwegian Church Aid has operated for years in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with work focuses that include supporting WASH and health. For the past week, staff of NCA in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, underwent a training class designed to introduce them to mobile data collection, broadcast SMS messaging, and data visualization. The class was composed of more than 20 seasoned workers from the region – all working on issues of community support, water and sanitation, and health. The NCA website describes the work:
Our programme in DRC focuses on clean water and safe hygiene for internally displaced people, prevention of sexual violence and restoring those who have been affected by it, and to bring people that have been kidnapped as a child and misused as soliders back to a normal and healthy life.
The training emphasized mobile data collection using the Magpi mobile application for Android, but an introduction was also included into data collection by SMS and by IVR (voice). Additional introduction was provided for broadcast messaging using Magpi’s voice and SMS features. The class – none of whom had any programming or computer technical expertise – heard lectures by Magpi co-founder Joel Selanikio, watched Magpi’s introductory videos for mobile data collection (subtitled in French), and held multiple practice sessions to familiarize themselves with form design, question types, GPS data collection, data export to Excel, and Magpi’s automated, integrated data analysis.
Going to the Field
The fourth training day was used for field practice in nearby rural villages, allowing the students to put their practice to the test under realistic circumstances – made even more realistic by the persistent rain, and treacherously muddy conditions which made travel difficult by SUV and on foot. But the group was cheerful throughout, and used their Android tablets to conduct interviews with willing respondents in more than 60 humble local households – gathering real information to be used for programs.
Visualizing the Data in Real-Time
The final portions of training showed the students how to create real-time reporting from their data – with Magpi providing an automatic report, which the students then learned to edit and customize. As with Magpi mobile data collection – which was the first cloud-based tool to provide non-technical humanitarian workers with the ability to design and deploy electronic forms without programming – Magpi data visualization allows any user with basic computer literacy to do the same for reporting and visualization.
Supporting WASH and Health – and Reducing Costs
In the end, as NCA moves forward with its programs, mobile data collection – along with easy but effective data visualization and reporting – will be an valuable tool to help reach their goals in supporting WASH and health programs in the communities of Congo. And Magpi’s cloud-based subscription model reduces the need for equipment and specialized personnel, while making IT costs more predictable – important benefits for any organization.
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