Frontline allowed a Colombian organization to open non-traditional communication channels for different communities in a part of the country with very low connectivity.
SFCG Nigeria is part of Search for Common Ground, one of the first and largest conflict resolution focused NGOs. To support the reconciliation and reintegration of ex-militants in the Niger Delta, the Tomorrow is a New Day (TND) project was implemented with the support of the European Union from December 2011- June 2013. The project was carried out with five local partners, who were instrumental in SFCG Nigeria’s ability to work directly with seven local communities in the Delta.
From Colombia to Ghana to Canada, communicating with members of parliament, tracking city council spending, and advocating for environmental oversight of extractive industries are among a wide range of governance activities that have become possible for anyone with access to an internet connection, a computer, or a smartphone. That’s a lot of people, but not nearly enough.
We want to say thank you to all of our users and supporters for a tremendous and inspiring 2013. Your ideas, input, and investments helped us achieve so many accomplishments over the past year: we topped 100,000 downloads with FrontlineSMS. We launched FrontlineCloud. We received a Google Impact Award for our work with our partner Landesa to secure land rights for 80,000 families in India.
Coming to you from the University of Cambridge's Centre of Governance and Human Rights, we are pleased to feature a short film about the Africa's Voices project. This research pilot project supported local radio stations to use FrontlineSMS for audience participation, in an effort to continue to enhance citizen-based dialogue. Radio is still the killer app in Africa for sharing information. Adding mobile turns a one-to-many medium into a two-way interactive opportunity, empowering people to ask questions and hold their leaders to account.
By Kavita Rajah, FrontlineSMS Community Support Assistant Stop Stockouts is currently using FrontlineSMS in their campaign to increase access to medicines in public health institutions in Uganda and Kenya. Recently we’ve spoken with Denis Kibira, National Coordinator for the Stop Stockouts Campaign in Uganda, about how FrontlineSMS software has helped to achieve campaign objectives.
When a pharmacy or health center runs out of a medicine, this is referred to as a ‘stock-out’. Stock-outs often include medicines that are used to treat common but serious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, HIV, TB, diabetes and hypertension – all of which are among the highest causes of death in Africa. In African countries such as Uganda and Kenya, stock-outs can frequently occur and it can be weeks or months before the stock is replenished. Patients needing these medicines are then forced to travel long distances in search of alternate sources, pay high prices for medicines from the private sector or they are forced to do without – ultimately facing life or death circumstances.
The Stop Stockouts campaign lobbies African governments to meet their obligations to provide essential medicines by increasing the national budgetary allocation for the purchase of these medicines and by ensuring efficiency and transparency in the procurement, supply, and distribution of medicines. The campaign is an initiative of Health Action International (HAI) Africa, Oxfam, and a number of African partners – with the support of the Open Society Institute (OSI).
Stop Stockouts was introduced to FrontlineSMS by OSI, who promoted FrontlineSMS as a very useful tool for advocacy and quick monitoring of medicine availability. Since then, Stop Stockouts has been using FrontlineSMS to aid in campaign communications. They use FrontlineSMS to send information to members, to remind partners about meetings and to update stakeholders on advocacy events.
Stop Stockouts also use FrontlineSMS in their monitoring activities such as ‘Pill Checks’; where researchers visit public health institutions to check on the availability of essential medicines. Researchers send an SMS containing the results to a common server, and the incoming data is managed via FrontlineSMS. These results are then reflected in an online map of the country, produced using mapping tool Ushahidi, and showing areas where medication is out of stock. This map provides real time evidence about the stock-out situation on a national level and serves as a compelling lobbying tool to the relevant authorities. The visual mapping of these ‘pill checks’ have increased visibility of the Stop Stockouts campaign which has contributed to the success of the campaign.
Stop Stockouts state that FrontlineSMS has greatly improved their communications. Denis explains “it has reduced the turnaround time in which we get and respond to issues in the communities where we work, and the "pill check" map has added impact to our advocacy and technical reports.” Denis says that the online mapping system using FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi is especially powerful because it comes from the people. He asserts that using FrontlineSMS as part of their campaign communications has helped to reach at least 1,000 people every year. The results have been very impactful that governments are also currently using SMS to collect its own data and monitor facilities. Additionally, there has also been an increased demand for use of technology for monitoring government activities as well as new relationships for information sharing with other NGOs in different countries.
Stop Stockouts are also currently exploring using FrontlineSMS in their complaints and compliments desk which is a feedback mechanism for communities in which health service delivery, in particular human rights violations, can be reported.
We look forward to staying in touch with Denis and the rest of the Stop Stockouts team as they continue to make powerful use of FrontlineSMS software. o/
Medicine stock-outs are a potentially lethal problem in a number of African countries, yet governments insist they don't occur. What could be more powerful than a map which contradicts this claim? Last week activists in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia started surveying clinics in their respective countries, checking stock levels of essential medicines, including:
- First-line anti-malarials
- Zinc 20mg tablet
- First-line ARVs
- Metronidazole 200mg tablet
- Amoxicillin suspension
- Cotrimoxazole suspension
- ORS - Diarrhea
Each of these are seen as essential in varying degrees to fighting disease and illness, and are widely used when available.
Armed with the data, activists report their results via structured, coded SMS - "x,y,z" - where the first number represents their country code (Kenya, Malawi, Uganda or Zambia), the second their district or city, and the third the medicine which they found to be out of stock. These messages are received by a phone connected to a computer running FrontlineSMS, which then runs an automatic script which validates the data before it is sent over the internet to a Ushahidi-powered website.
From there the results are automatically displayed on a map, below (click to visit the live site).
As of today, there have been over 250 stock-outs of these essential medicines.
Since the data is automatically populated, the map represents an almost real-time picture of stock-outs in the four target countries. After a successful launch and a week piloting the service, the "stock-out hub number" will now be distributed to medicine users throughout each country so that anyone with a mobile phone can send in a stock-out report. Unlike reports from official, known data collectors, these messages will firstly be checked by staff at Health Action International (HAI Africa) before being posted up on the map.
The technological portion of the campaign was implemented by Michael Ballard and Claudio Midolo, both Open Society Fellows from the Department of Design + Technology at Parsons the New School for Design in New York. Ndesanjo Macha also helped in getting FrontlineSMS up and running in Uganda and Malawi.
For further background information and up-to-date news, visit the "Stop Stock-Outs" website.