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TitleYou manage what you measure: Using a mobile to web MIS to strengthen outcome monitoring in rural sanitation
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
AuthorsKumar, A, Singh, U

An effective and robust monitoring system is timely, cost-effective, and credible and tracks relevant indicators which feedback into program implementation. Monitoring rural sanitation outcomes needs to track both construction and behavior change, which is a challenge to measure at scale in the sector. The lack of robust and timely information on outcomes leads to investments made without a credible means to measure their achievement. The explosion of mobile technology has opened up opportunities to improve the monitoring of rural sanitation outcomes. The use of ICT to collect data on sanitation behavior and make this available almost in real time, offers potential, for large scale monitoring. A proof of concept undertaken by WSP used a mobile phone app (application) to track sanitation outputs (construction of toilets) and outcomes (behavior change). It used mobile phones to undertake a survey among households to ask critical questions about the above. Data was sent directly to a web based Management Information System (MIS), which made data available in real time. Additional features such as geo-tagging and photographs of each record created, improve credibility of the information collected. Results are presented through user-friendly charts and maps accessible through the online MIS, updated in real time as records are collected. This proof of concept tested an idea which links ICT with rural sanitation, to improve information available on service delivery outcomes. It demonstrated that: Using smartphones can provide quick, credible information on sector outcomes in near real time unlike that provided by conventional surveys; Features such as geo-tagging and photographs of respondents ensure results are more credible and relevant; and Presentation of data is user-friendly and maps enable a viewer to grasp the status of rural sanitation in a geographical unit at a glance.

This approach of using mobile phones with a web interface to collect large amounts of data in short periods of time can possibly be scaled up in the Indian rural sanitation context, with the existing Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) monitoring system and Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) assessments using this approach to enhance the quality of the data collection process. As pilots are often implemented in a controlled environment as pockets of excellence, taking this initiative to national scale, a sample survey needs to be undertaken across the country. In addition, a comparative analysis of the costs and other benefits of monitoring using ICT approach vis-à-vis conventional approaches, using a systematic and scientific process, are required to understand the efficacy of this approach in the long run.


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