5.1.2 Blend technology and traditional methods to enhance data collection for hard-to-reach populations

Blending traditional data collection and technology-assisted data collection can work well with mobile groups of youth, widespread rural populations, or individuals in conflict-affected areas. Technology-assisted data collection allows enhancements without radically redesigning all M&E systems or requiring significant capital outlay to purchase new hardware or software. Blending also allows continued face-to-face contact when necessary. The Somali Youth Livelihood Program (SYLP), an EDC program funded by USAID that provided Somali youth with skill trainings, access to work, and internship and self-employment opportunities, adapted its data collection to fit particular indicators. For example, participation and completion (number and percentages) of a given livelihood program were measured using traditional data collection methods. Data related to job placement, internships, self-employment, or further education, as well as participant satisfaction, was collected via technology-assisted methods. See also “Use software that works on multiple platforms.

EDC in Kenya equipped their field data collectors with tablets and mobile applications and sent them into the field as usual. Thus the only major change for program participants was that their survey answers were noted on a tablet instead of a notebook. In some contexts, the introduction of new technology can bring challenges. For example, in Rwanda, surveyors did not always want to return the tablets. For more details about the Kenya program, see “Use free or low-cost tools to see significant reduction in data collection costs.

Bright Ideas: Camfed Uses Episurveyor to Track girls’ Education

Beginning in 2011, Camfed, an organization that fights poverty by educating and empowering girls in rural communities, began updating the data collection system it uses to track girls’ education by utilizing the EpiSurveyor mobile data collection system in place of paper forms. Episurveyor, now renamed as Magpi (www.magpi.com), is a web-based service that allows people to create a form on a website, download to a variety of common phones, and collect field data using those phones rather than paper. There are both free and paid versions of the software, with the free version limited to collecting and uploading up to 6,000 surveys per year.

Camfed reports that EpiSurveyor works well on standard mobile phones, has low running costs, and captures reliable real-time data. They collect data from students in over 3,000 schools and send data to teachers and Salesforce.com for real-time records and visualizations. They can produce eye-popping charts and data is up-to-date. For more information about Camfed’s experience, see www.dropbox.com/igkfoj89efw9ouz/Episurveyor_in_the_Education_Sector.pdf.