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.
In this guest post new FrontlineSMS user, Sophie Baron, shares how she is currently using FrontlineSMS in a pilot study to monitor and contain the spread of animal diseases in Cambodia. This pilot was initiated by Dr. Flavie Goutard and Dr. Sebastien Le Bel from the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC). It is now providing valuable information to the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, through their National Veterinary Research Institute (NaVRI) at the Department of Animal Health and Production. In this post Sophie explains how the pilot has been set-up to overcome communications challenges, and discusses how FrontlineSMS is helping enable successful tracking and containment of animal diseases. By Sophie Baron
Infectious animal diseases are a major threat for the agricultural community in Cambodia. If levels of animal diseases are not monitored and contained effectively, this can have a negative impact on farmer’s livelihoods. I am working through the CIRAD, alongside IPC and NaVRI, to implement a targeted monitoring and surveillance system for animals. A pilot study is currently being implemented in two rural Cambodian provinces - Kampong Cham and Takeo. The sample for this pilot study is made up of 10 villages from each of 3 districts in both provinces; making a total of 60 villages. From each of the 60 villages, we asked the village chief and a selected village animal health worker (VAHW) to report the number of dead cattle, chickens, ducks and pigs in their village on a weekly basis. They were also asked to report the number of cattle infected by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Hemorrhagic Septicemia (HS); and the number of cattle that died from these infections.
The data reported via SMS by village chiefs and VAHWs helps to provide a more accurate baseline of animal mortality, and serves to alert NaVRI when mortality is higher than usual. If the reports being sent indicate that mortality is high, someone from NaVRI is sent to the relevant village to take samples from the animals, which are used to diagnose the condition. Based on this diagnosis appropriate actions are taken which curb the potential for an outbreak. Receiving regular data via SMS - and being able to manage this data within FrontlineSMS - helps enable NaVRI to adopt more timely and effective response mechanisms to breakouts of animal diseases.
When we were designing the pilot study, there were some interesting challenges that we had to consider. The pilot was targeting rural areas where access to internet is slow, so we had to build a solution that was accessible. Luckily, most people have mobile phones in these rural areas, but there is also a low usage rate of SMS in Cambodia. This is partly because phones do not support Khmer characters – which is the official language in Cambodia - making texting very difficult, and in some cases impossible. In addition, a phone call costs approximately the same as an SMS in Cambodia, thus reducing the incentive to communicate via SMS.
However, the high access to mobile phones means that SMS still offers a viable solution and enables effective data collection; we just had to be aware to design our use of SMS to suit the context. To get around the language challenge, we implemented a numbering system so that users just had to submit reports via SMS using numerical values as opposed to sending fully written text messages. We went to the villages and offered personal training to those who would be submitting reports via SMS, and further explained and documented the numbering system. In order to incentivize people to send their SMS reports the cost of SMS is reimbursed. On a monthly basis, VAHWs and village chiefs are given sufficient mobile top-up to be able to send SMS reports throughout the month.
The way we have designed the pilot seems to be working well. In the first few weeks, there was a 90% rate of response from the VAHWs. We have experienced some initial errors in the report format, but Ms. Kunthy Nguon, research assistant at IPC was able to call to follow up and clarify any incorrect reports, and to inform those reporting of the correct way to structure the content.
Since the pilot has proved efficient in helping us to receive timely and accurate reports so far, I have recently installed FrontlineSMS at NaVRI, where reports will continue to be monitored. The pilot started in February 2012 and will continue as a pilot study until June 2012. Following this point, we will evaluate the success of our use of FrontlineSMS and we will be looking for funding to continue the project from June 2012 and to expand into additional provinces.
Under the supervision of Dr. Arnaud Tarantola, head of the Epidemiology and Public Health unit at IPC, we are also currently reviewing ways that FrontlineSMS can be used in some other IPC projects, for tasks such as monitoring success of patient vaccination and collecting patient feedback. It has been really valuable to investigate the different potential uses of FrontlineSMS across public and animal healthcare, and we hope to expand use of the software moving forward. Sophie Baron is a veterinarian doing a Masters in Public Health, and specializing on epidemiologic surveillance of human and animal diseases. Thanks to a Fondation Pierre Ledoux scholarship, Sophie is doing a six month internship based at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) as part of her studies.
Guest post by Amanda Bradley, Director of Pact’s Community Forestry Partnership Program in Cambodia
The Oddar Meanchey Community Forestry REDD project is the first of its kind in Cambodia. This project was initiated in 2008 when international consensus crystallized around a mechanism called REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), aiming to compensate developing countries that could successfully protect their existing forests. Since the loss of forests equates with approximately 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, protecting existing forests is seen as a significant part of the solution to global warming.
The key idea behind the Oddar Meanchey project is that if the thirteen participating communities can stop the deforestation in the 64,000 hectares of forest that they have been given rights to manage, then they will earn money through the voluntary carbon market. Over the course of the 30-year project, these credit payments will be used not only to strengthen forest protection efforts, but also to boost the local living standards of 10,000 participating households.
One of the most challenging aspects of the REDD project development is the design and activation of the project monitoring system. In order to comply with international standards, it is necessary to provide comprehensive data to prove that the project actions have resulted in reduced deforestation. In general, communities conduct patrols several times a week to monitor and prevent illegal logging, hunting, and encroachment. In order to streamline the process of data collection, Pact decided to trial FrontlineSMS’ data collection tool, FrontlineForms, with several community leaders to see if the system could be used to efficiently collect field data during forest patrols.
Pact’s first step was to design a simple Khmer language form that could be sent to community leaders to complete during patrols. We purchased several mobile phone handsets compatible with the system and Khmer language requirement (we used the Nokia 5130). Next, Pact’s team trained local leaders how to complete and submit a form. All of the community leaders had never used SMS (text messaging) before, so it took some time for them to get used to the idea of communicating this way, even though the text was in Khmer. However, as the trial progressed they were able to use FrontlineForms to send in information related to their forest patrols; including date, time and length of the patrol, number of patrollers, GPS waypoint for the starting point, fuel used, and presence or absence of illegal activity, wildlife sightings, and fire.
Overall, the trial was a success because it greatly reduced the time and effort to collect field data. Community leaders logged a total of 28 patrols. They said that they were happy to use the system, and appreciated the automatic response confirming receipt of their data. They also provided useful tips for further improvement of the system. For instance, they said that the Form needed to be adjusted to accommodate data for overnight patrols. They also learned that if patrolling in remote locations without telephone reception, they needed to wait until returning to the village before sending their Forms.
As a result of using FrontlineSMS, Pact was able to collect valuable data on the forest patrols which normally might take many days to compile. There is no longer a need for collecting and translating handwritten paper forms from all corners of the province. There are still some challenges - such as certifying data accuracy and avoiding double submission of the same Form - but as community leaders gain experience with the system, the submissions are likely to improve. Pact is now expanding our use of FrontlineForms to cover all of the communities in the project area. Pact will also gradually expand the number of Forms and variables handled by the system as communities become more familiar and comfortable with using FrontlineForms. Eventually, Pact aims to install an automatic alert for urgent issues such as illegal logging or fire to speed up response time from local authorities.
Use of FrontlineForms has the potential to save significant time and effort in data collection for REDD project implementation and reporting. And the more resources that are saved this way, the more credit payments available to support forest protection activities and community livelihoods.
For more information on Pact’s Community Forestry Partnership Program in Cambodia visit: http://www.pactcambodia.org/Programs/Program_CFP.htm.
You can also check out this in-depth report from Pact about their use of FrontlineSMS, and the lessons they've learned so far.
If you would like to connect with Amanda and others using FrontlineSMS in Cambodia then you can go along to a user meet-up in Phnom Penh due on 23rd April. For more information on this visit our community forum. There is a Meet-Ups and Regional Networks group on our forum to help enable FrontlineSMS users to connect with each other, and share lessons learned. So if you're a FrontlineSMS user why not join our forum and start sharing today!
Our twenty-seventh guest post comes from ECOCARE Maldives, an NGO working for the protection and sustainable development of the environment, writing about how they've used FrontlineSMS in their environmental awareness programme with local school children. It's an incredibly simple use case, but it helps them to continue offering the service, and making a difference on the ground...
ECOCARE was introduced to FrontlineSMS software by 350.org during one of their SMS projects, Project Mobilize. After the October 24, 2009 event we used the software in one of our environmental awareness programs.
At the beginning of 2000, an ongoing environmental awareness program, called the Sonevafushi Nature Trip, was launched to create awareness among the primary school children of Malé and Baa Atoll. Baa Atoll lies about 96 miles to the north of Malé. Transporting 100 school children and teachers to the atoll was quite a challenge. School children from Malé and islands in Baa atoll work as colleagues to study the environmental issues such as mangrove ecosystem, coral reefs, beach erosion, biodiversity, natural vegetation, and waste in the atoll. We run the six-day program every year, during the school holidays.
The project makes it possible for children from Malé, who don't have the opportunity to experience greenery in the dusty, smoke-laden city. They are given a chance to learn what the environment is and what could be done to protect and preserve the environment for sustainable future development. They learn about the dependence that the fishing industry and tourism have on the coral reefs and life around it, and the great importance of protecting the reefs. At the same time, school children and the community in the islands of Baa atoll learn from their counterparts from Malé the extent of the environmental degradation that Malé has gone through in its urbanization, and understand the consequences if Baa follows in Malé's footsteps. In future, these children will become the citizens making the decisions to turn away from a path of environmental damage.
While the participants spend almost one week away from their family and concentrate only on the environment, we send important updates and other information via SMS to the mobile phones of their family members and other authorities, using FrontlineSMS. We've found it to be much more reliable than other softwarewe've used.