This blog is about the process of putting an idea into practice. The idea goes like this: find ways of gathering data about people’s opinions, beliefs and living conditions in regions where this information is painfully lacking; and when you do, make optimal use of existing information & communication infrastructures.
The country is Tanzania. The technology is the mobile phone.
Originally, this blog was about how my colleagues Hans Hoogeveen, Kevin Croke and me here at UWAZI, in collaboration with DataVision International Ltd. were setting up an infrastructure that would allow for weekly large-scale mobile phone surveys amongst the citizens of the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. By now, the project is funded by the World Bank, where it is used as a tool for independent third-party monitoring of Public Services in the city. See the projects website here (incl. all data & reports).
So this blog is really not so much about me and but about using mobile phones as a novel and largely untested means of large-scale data collection in developing countries. In particular, it is about how mobile phones can be used effectively for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) efforts.
I have written about our experiences of setting up and managing a mobile-phone panel in Dar es Salaam in 2010 (based on a representative face-to-face baseline survey), about the problems that we ran into, the decisions that took along the way, and their desired and undesired consequences.
Now, in 2012, I write about how the project has evolved, what we were able to learn from the experience so far, and the usefulness of mobile panels in monitoring Public Service Delivery in a developing country.
The main aim of this blog is to get individuals and organisations in the field informed and excited about what we are doing – to offer people a platform where they can share their ideas, suggestions and relevant experiences. If you are intrigued by what you read so far, welcome again: you are precisely one of those people I had in mind when setting up this blog.