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Berit Johannessen

By: Berit Johannessen on February 18th, 2014

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Spotlight: The Hunger Project

Data Management | Business Insight | Project Monitoring | Use Cases

iFormBuilder and The Hunger Project

New York, New York


"As a supervisor, using iFormBuilder for data collection was an exciting experience. It reduced the workload of checking the questionnaires’ accuracy as I could check the data in database right after syncing it—while our enumerators were still in the field. There were no cases of call backs (returning to households surveys) either! " - Henry Chungu, M&E Officer from Malawi 

The Global Hunger Project (THP) has devoted the last 25 years to assisting individuals who are living in abject poverty along the path to economic self-sufficiency. They continue their mission with operations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Reaching nineteen million people in nearly 15,000 villages in some of the world’s most rural places.  The Hunger Project’s mission is “to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.”

The THP programs operate in rural and sometimes isolated communities.  Each program requires substantial resources and time to collect high quality, accurate information.

The Challenge: Collecting Data Before iFormBuilder

Previous to using iFormBuilder, all of THP’s data was collected using pen and paper surveys/forms. On the pen and paper, large household studies were conducted in a similar manner to those during the Outcome Evaluation Pilot/Scale Up: A survey tool was created, a team of enumerators was trained on the tool, and then enumerators were sent to the field to collect information armed with paper and pen.

Challenges THP faced with this method included a great deal of time was lost transcribing surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions from paper to a computer for analysis.   Not to mention, error in data due to papers being lost or illegible.  Lastly, significant cost repercussions for hiring data entry support.

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The Solution: Collecting Data With iFormBuilder 

Since 2008, THP Program Countries have systematically monitored programmatic inputs (budgetary expenses, materials, etc.), activities (workshops, trainings, etc.), and outputs (# people trained, # trees planted). The Hunger Project worked strategically to further refine their M&E system, defining the causal pathways that lead to the changes (outcomes) expected to see at the household and community levels as a result of the programs. In 2012, THP’s M&E system was updated from paper-based collection to iFormBuilder.   Relying on key data points from activity tracking and studies, utilizes a mixed-method approach to assess our impact at the community level.

Recognizing the tremendous inefficiencies in a paper-based data system, THP piloted the use of iFormBuilder with iPods in two countries: Ghana and Malawi. Based on the success of this implementation, three other countries successfully conducted iFormBuilder-based surveys in 2013 (Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda). In total, nearly 1,500 households were surveyed, representing over 220 villages and 144,000 individuals across five countries. The surveys were managed locally by THP’s six M&E Officers, conducted by 50 enumerators (who conducted interviews in local language), and supported by countless volunteers and community members living in villages where THP works. In 2014, THP plans to perform additional evaluations in Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda, as well as scale out iFormBuilder use to Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Mexico and Mozambique.

The Results

Three main advantages have surfaced as a result of THP’s mobile data collection efforts: (1) cost savings during studies, (2) accuracy of information, and (3) time sensitive feedback and review.

  1. Cost savings: An evaluation using mobile data collection saves nearly $1,000 in data entry and cleaning fees–the device pays for itself in the first study!
  2. Accuracy of information: Built in checks and survey logic prevents enumerators from skipping or providing out-of-the ordinary responses, reducing the number of “unusable surveys”
  3. Time sensitive feedback and review: Eliminating the need for data entry means that study managers are able to quickly review initial data and make decisions about the need to return to the field

In other words, digitizing household surveys and other information makes data more accurate, more time-sensitive, easier to access, and faster to use. Moreover, it allows THP to more quickly fulfill its commitment to a participatory M&E system, where communities can receive timely presentations and feedback with evaluation results.

About Berit Johannessen

Berit Johannessen is a Solutions Engineer at Zerion. Her main goal is to train individuals and organizations on how to deploy successful projects.

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