FrontlineSMS at 7: ActionAid in Kenya, Nepal and London


In the seventh and final post in our FrontlineSMSat7 series, our CEO Laura Walker Hudson highlights a FrontlineSMS use case that makes her happy - ActionAid's award-winning, bi-continental pilots of FrontlineSMS in Africa and Europe.

In 2010, one of the first meetings I took after I joined FrontlineSMS was with a new initiative called Infoasaid (at gorgeous, Art Deco Bush House in London, now sadly closed). A small team of media and humanitarian aid experts had been funded by DFID to work with humanitarian aid agencies to improve the way they communicated with communities affected by disasters, and they wanted to use FrontlineSMS. In 2011 we conducted a training for the team, and a few months later they began running pilots with ActionAid, WorldVision, Save the Children and others in East Africa. I was lucky enough to join a training they ran for WorldVision in Voi, Kenya in January 2012.

The ActionAid programme went well - staff were trained to use Frontline Forms to gather data and the FrontlineSMS platform to communicate with relief committees and staff. The initial reports from the Infoasaid team were pleased, and became glowing as they saw how the ActionAid team in Kenya took up the platform to manage monitoring and evaluation and began to save time every day using SMS to replace existing communications flows more efficiently and effectively.That programme deservedly won an award, and is a closely-documented example of FrontlineSMS being spontaneously picked up by teams when they realise how versatile SMS is as a platform.

We kept in touch with the ActionAid team in London, and earlier this year we talked about them using FrontlineSMS in some of their campaign work. The result was a wonderful land rights campaign - something close to my heart, as a lapsed lawyer and inveterate feminist. Actionaid used FrontlineSMS to allow women in Nepal to text in their statements about what land rights would mean to them - and they shared them with the world on Twitter and their website.

Seeing organizations recognising the versatility of both SMS and our platform to help them do their work, whatever and wherever it is, is one of my personal goals for us - I want to see FrontlineSMS becoming the tool everyone has, used wherever it's needed, everywhere in the world. Seeing humanitarian agencies beginning to pick it up, and better still, document it working well for teams, brings my old career into the new. I can't wait to see what ActionAid do next.

As this series draws to a close, we're going to keep collecting photos of our users telling the world how they use FrontlineSMS, because we think they're awesome. If you want to get in on the act, take a photo of yourself or your team holding a piece of paper or a whiteboard telling the world what you do with FrontlineSMS. For example: ‘I monitor elections’, ‘I safeguard children’ or ‘I make art’. You can see a slideshow of the photos we’ve had so far on our Flickr page.

It doesn’t matter what language it’s in as long as it’s legible and if possible you should be able to see from the photo where it was taken, so, if you can, get out of the office!

You can: - post to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #FrontlineSMSat7 - email the picture and we’ll post them - post the picture on our Ning network and we’ll post them - post them on Flickr or any other web service and let us know where they are