Reducing errors and delays in collecting millions of World Food Programme data points

March 1st, 2015 by Waylon Brunette

Dennis Kinambuga is a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer with the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), where he supports the monitoring and evaluation of the World Food Programme's Purchase for Progress project in 17 countries. In his guest post on Nafundi's blog, Dennis explains how Nafundi and ODK has helped AERC collect and analyze more than 3.6 million data points for the Purchase for Progress project.

Dennis Kinambuga writes:

The Purchase for Progress (P4P) project uses the World Food Programme's (WFP) purchasing power, paired with inventive local techniques and best practices, to bring smallholder farmers into formal value chains where they can earn more. The project started in 2008, and has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers in 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America.

Collecting smallholder farmer data on paper is a nightmare

Monitoring and evaluation is key to proving P4P's efficacy and so the WFP collects longitudinal data on households and farmer organizations to monitor the project. In 2011, WFP partnered with the AERC to collect, clean, analyze, manage, and report on the quantitative data generated by 17 of the 20 P4P countries.

At the beginning of the project, the complex data sets, each with about 1,600 variables, were collected on paper. The data was then manually entered into computers at a later date. This paper-based process resulted in data collection errors, long delays before data entry, and difficulty in monitoring on-going surveys from AERC offices in Nairobi. It was a data management nightmare.

ODK reduced errors and delays in collecting millions of data points

In 2013, with the support of Nafundi, AERC started using ODK for data collection in Rwanda. The benefits were immediately clear. The time between data collection and analysis was reduced by almost half. Additionally, the near real time remote monitoring enabled catching and correcting errors while surveyors were still in the field.

Two WFP surveyors use ODK to collect data from a farmer organization in Rwanda.

AERC has since successfully used ODK to collect P4P data in Kenya, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Ghana, and Zambia. To date, more than 2,300 households and 230 farmer organizations have been surveyed using ODK in these countries. This represents more than 3.6 million data points collected with ODK.

With each deployment, there have been drastic reductions in the time between and effort required for data collection and analysis. We have also seen tremendous increases in data quality. For these reasons, AERC will continue to use ODK to collect and analyze data for monitoring and evaluation work at AERC.