I spent last week in Kwale, Kenya in the company of several colleagues learning about and discussing the use of mobiles in community development, both for outreach and communications and for mobile data gathering. There was a variety of people -- from frontline staff to members of Community Based Organizations (CBO) in Kwale, to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) staff from Plan Kenya’s districts and central offices and Plan’s West Africa Regional office, to IT staff, to youth and those working with youth media, to partner organizations working on child help lines and social media outreach.
Photo: Anthony from Plan along with Mativo, a former Plan colleague, trained us on FLSMS
We looked closely at Frontline SMS (FLSMS) and Nokia’s new Data Gathering Software (NDGS) and brainstormed on ways that this type of tool might support the work that people are already doing. Really an interesting week!
In addition to the more common ideas of using mobiles for health campaigns, disaster/crisis situations and general communications and monitoring, people mentioned:
For youth media programs:
-Organizing weekly radio contests via Frontline SMS and allowing many more youth to participate in the radio program that way. Now for contests, they have to write a letter with their answer and bring it to radio station by foot. Using SMS many more could participate, increasing listeners and engagement.
-Assessing the radio show right after the recording. The youth and children could go in the audience and gather the data they normally do by hand using mobile data gathering software, thus easing the processing time and analysis of the information.
-Monitoring progress and changes made in relation to the show at a broader level -- the participating youth could use mobile data gathering to monitor change related to the issues they are targeting in the radio shows and to see if youth organization and awareness building is impacting on the community over time.
Photo: people got really excited when their first forms appeared on their phones to be filled in!
For Child/Human Rights work and Global Child Rights Campaigns:
-Assessing the knowledge/awareness of the communities about rights issues and/or our global campaigns
-Receiving reports and sharing information about violations of rights (gathering info on whether children are being registered at birth, the incidence of school violence, girl’s or women’s rights violations, cases of child abuse) and offer short information on where to go for help.
-Monitoring child abuse cases, e.g. community members could text in key words such as ABUSE or MARRIAGE to report and track child abuse cases and early marriages happening in the community:
Birth Registration (UBR) implementation
-Tracking birth registration certificates and sharing information on the steps of the registration process. With auto SMS replies we could enhance information accessibility 24/7. We could provide instant feedback to people on the status of their birth registration. It would be a very quick way of sending information to many.
-Using mobile data gathering software, the birth registration process could be made paperless and computerized, thus saving time and effort for the population and increasing the number of children who are registered at birth.
Photo: Jackson and 3 other colleagues from Brazil trained us on the NDGS.
-Running a mobile survey or a rapid assessment to find out whether a service like Childline is reaching people and whether the service is known and being utilized in the field.
Communicating among Plan staff, CBOs, Communities
-Passing along information such as training dates, schedules, meetings, etc., to avoid making a trip out to the community to get information
-Surveying on health, school attendance, and school enrollment through a network of teachers
-Communities have a lot of information they want to share among themselves, among the Community Health Workers (CHWs), with the other communities and other leaders – they could do this with FLSMS.
Managing Meetings and Decisions
-Inviting participants, confirming attendance, updating on the absentees when you’ve reached a decision they could be contacted this way. You could even involve those who are absent in voting by SMS if you don’t have quorum; eg., text in 1 for this candidate, 2 for this other one, or vote yes/no on something.
Photo: SMS was seen as a great way for communities and CBOs to communicate and organize.