IPA and Gates Using ODK To Improve Safe Water Systems

March 27th, 2012 by Yaw Anokwa

Jessica Vernon from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) wrote in to contact@opendatakit.org and shared a blog post highlighting the improvement in their safe water systems that have come from using ODK.

The blog post notes that "the Dispensers for Safe Water (DSW) program at IPA (supported with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) is improving water quality by providing a point-of-collection Chlorine Dispenser System in western Kenya. Treating drinking water with dilute chlorine solution can cut child diarrhea by 41%, but this fact alone doesn't guarantee impact. Using Open Data Kit, an open source set of data collection and management tools, DSW can significantly shorten the feedback loop from data collection to course-correction, allowing us to identify challenges with real-time data and address issues at a rapid pace. Surveys are built in Excel, uploaded to a server and downloaded to a low-cost smartphone.

DSW's field officers visit chlorine dispensers in the field and identify them individually with a quick scan of their unique barcodes. Data are collected on any dispenser hardware problems, the backup chlorine supply, and their frequency of use by local community members. Daily results are then uploaded to a centralized database and available for instant analysis to guide subsequent fieldwork.

The Chlorine Dispenser System is being scaled up in Kenya, and DSW is committed to applying rigorous evidence to programs. Having real-time data available for decision making helps take the guesswork out of safe water delivery by quickly focusing efforts where they are needed most. In this way, smartphones can help bring us one step closer to providing safe water for all."

It's always exciting to see ODK tools powering decision-making, so congrats to Jessica and the entire IPA team! Find out more about their work at http://www.poverty-action.org.