Two projects, one in Kenya and one in Burkina Faso, show that female farmers have better access to ICTs and are using them to improve their livelihoods. However, there is still a gender digital divide, and some profound problems are preventing women from benefiting from ICTs.
The project takes place in rural Northern Ghana. Over twenty percent of the Northern Ghanaian teenage girls is either pregnant or already has a child. STDs and HIV/Aids are also a problem in this region. Youth often lacks right information and knowledge about reproductive health.
At this moment, the project supports youth by training youth leaders to educate their peers. They also get access to ICT centres of the rural health clinics where they work from. This programme is supported by IICD and Cordaid through the Connect4Change Consortium together with local partner ACDEP. With the support of IICD, Vodafone Foundation and dance4life, mobile phones will be used to better reach youth with information about health and sex. Via mobile quizzes, text messages and a mobile encyclopedia, over 5000 young people will be able to get more information about sexual reproductive health.
Vodafone’s World of Difference programme supports IICD for one year by giving a paid job to four young Dutch experts to assist in the implementation of the project in Ghana. Interested young people, can register and find more information via the website WorldofDifference.nl between September 17 and October 31 2012. The winners will be announced and will travel to Ghana in February 2013
In a project team, the selected candidates help to create a mobile application that will support the young people. The project team consists of a social media specialist, an IT-specialist, a marketing specialist and a youth worker. They are supported by Vodafone, IICD and dance4life.
For more information, please go to the World of Difference website (in Dutch).
Editor's Note: We have, in the past, written about crowdmapping using mobile tech for submission of stories and reports. Crowdglobe recently analyzed data from Ushahidi and Ushahidi Crowdmap instances to better understand the quantity and quality of data submitted to 12,795 Crowdmaps in over 100 countries.
This guest post by Tiago Peixoto, an expert in the use of mobile tech in participatory budgeting and citizen participation, reviews the Crowdglobe report. It is reposted here by permission. Tiago blogs at Democracy Spot and tweets as @participatory.
For a while, the (quite impressive) number of Ushahidi deployments has been repeated in development circles as proof of its scalability, although very little was known about these various deployments. A new report by Internews sheds light on a number of issues on that front, such as number of participants, areas of intervention and geographical coverage.
Below are a few excerpts from this rather sobering report, based on surveys and an analysis of 12,757 Crowdmaps (highlights are my own):
- 93% of Crowdmaps had fewer than 10 reports.
- 61% of Crowdmaps had absolutely no customization at all, i.e., they still had the four default categories and the default report.
- 89% of Crowdmaps had four categories, including those with the four default categories.
- 13% of Crowdmaps had 5-10 categories.
- 94% of Crowdmaps had only one user.
(…) while about 61% percent exhibited virtually no activity beyond installation, 93% of Crowdmap instances reported fewer than 10 reports. In short, the power law distribution was far steeper than the Pareto Principle would anticipate.
Our initial processing shows a vast majority of deployments with little to no actionable data with a slight slope toward the minority with a likelihood of effective and active engagement.
The more reports a Crowdmap project has, the more reports it seems to attract, leading it to a positive feedback loop.In physics, power law relationships often reflect phase transitions. It is possible that there is an analogous process by which a map project reaches critical mass. If confirmed, this may indicate the importance of strategies to get nascent map projects “over the hump.” This is a promising area for future research.
(…) more attention was given to analyzing the 585 Crowdmaps that had between 21 and 10,000 reports.
The results revealed that the vast majority of these(30%) focused on North America while 18% focused on Western Europe and 16% on Africa. On average, these Crowdmaps had 814 reports.The median number of reports for this set of deployments was substantially lower, at 94, which is not surprising considering that the distribution of this set of cases is highly right-skewed
An even more important question refers to the number of outputs (Crowdmaps created) and outcomes (impact). The report does not go that far.
But still, it is a milestone in the efforts to better understand ICT mediated reporting (or engagement), a field in which policy is rarely backed by good evidence. Even if these results might come across as disappointing to some, kudos should go to the Ushahidi team for sharing their data for an external evaluation. Having said this, and in the spirit of openness, provided security measures were in place, it would be great if this data could be made available to other researchers to conduct their own analysis.
Photo courtesy CrowdglobeScreen Shot 2012-09-06 at 4.57.54 PM.png Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
At Sengerema hospital, patients coming in for small treatments in the so called ‘outpatient’ department were often confronted with many difficulties. First of all, it was difficult to register as a returning patient because patient files were stored manually and it took quite some time, before a file was found. The digital system will also solve the problem of long tiring standing queues where patients were often pushing each other in order to get served first. With a new patient registration system in place, patients can wait to be called while sitting comfortably on a bench.
Gradually putting a digital system in place
Moving to digital hospital management took some time. In the first phase, with the support of IICD, some key staff was trained and computers were already partially used in the administration office to for instance create schedules for nurses and computers were placed in an Internet café in the hospital. This allowed staff to already get familiar with computers. Then about 2 months before introducing the Hospital Management Information System (HMIS), 40 staff members were trained for 2 weeks in a basic ICT training that was focused on getting to know the system in simple way.
Patient gets more insight in medical bills
In addition to the reduced waiting time, another benefit for patients is that they now know better what they pay for. As there was not a general price list, pharmacists often worked with estimated prices. This meant that it differed what you had to pay depending on which pharmacist you would get. With the digital system, errors are virtually impossible. All products are priced in the system and patients now get digital receipts with the exact amounts.
For the hospital, the digital system also has financial benefits. Of course it costs money to implement, but it also raises money. The hospitals had to deal with patients not paying for their treatment and medicine, because of poor communication between the registering office, the lab, the pharmacy and the billing department or simply because of a hurry. This lost the hospital a significant amount of money every day that could have been used for new hospital equipment or hiring specialists.
Now, it’s not possible for a patient to walk out without paying anymore. The doctor orders a certain medicine from the pharmacy for a patient digitally and then the billing department gets the information about how much this medication costs. Only after the patient paid the amount for medication and doctor treatment, will the computer system allow patients to pick up their drugs.
Since the first day, the system proved its value. The hospital managed to grow its daily revenue from less than half a million Tanzanian shillings per day (about 253 Euros) to 1.2 million shillings per day (600 Euros). This additional money could be used for new hospital equipment, hiring specialists and to increase the hospitals general financial sustainability.
The system is cost- and energy efficient by using Ncomputing hardware. The big advantage of this virtual desktop solution is that multiple computer screens and keyboards are able to run on one computer. This makes the system very energy efficient and does not require a lot of maintenance.
Future: Nurses-to-be and other students also learn to use the system
On the hospital grounds, there is a nurse college and a clinical officers college. In the future the nurses-to-be and clinical-officers-to-be will be able to also learn to work with a health management system. In the Clinical Office College two new subjects were introduced in the formal curriculum: Hospital Management Information Systems and Computer Skills.
In the computer skills courses, students will learn basic ICT skills and other skills in an applied way. These include aspects such as typing, working with images, creating spreadsheets and other forms, how to collect information on the internet for their classes and making short videos.
Students will also learn about the HMIS. Course materials will be uploaded by using the free source e-learning software platform Moodle, and the students will do their practice using a demo version of the HMIS installed at the Sengerema Hospital. in this way students will be able to learn in practice what a digital hospital management information system is about and be ready to be employed in modern hospitals in the Country. With the HMIS installed at the hospital students will also be able to access aggregated health information and make more detailed analyses based on this information.
Things are changing at MobileActive. When we started in 2005 at a legendary event that we hosted in Toronto, Canada, there were few practitioners and few projects but many ideas on how to use mobile tech in development. We had identified about 100 people worldwide who were actively using mobiles in their social change and social development work and brought 40 together. Since then, the field has exploded and there are now thousands of projects and tens of thousands of people who are actively integrating and using mobile phones in some way or another in their projects.
The field has matured and there is considerably more expertise, more sophisticated tech, buy-in from telcos, and big donor money. There are also many more interest groups and communities of practice. There is the mHealth Alliance, the Mobiles for Education Alliance, the m-agriculture people, the mobile operators organized in the GSMA with its Development Fund and the Mobile Intelligence project, and many more.
There are blogs and twitter tags and failfaires, research groups, and too many conferences. In other words, when I co-started MobileActive with my colleague Marty Kearns, we were pioneers. Now we are but a tiny part of a healthy, vibrant, maturing, and increasingly smarter field that has different needs than when we started. We were and are thrilled to be part of this #m4dev field and declare unilateral success in helping create it and tell its stories.
But it's time to move on. I, as the driving force behind MobileActive, have decided to, for the first time in a very long time, join an established organization. I will be working at the National Democratic Institute at a senior level on pushing tech innovation in the field I grew up in and have always cared the most about: Building vibrant representative democracies with good governance. NDI works in some 63 countries and is focused on areas such as meaningful citizen participation, open parliaments, strong political parties, and fair and equitable elections. The organization pioneered the use of SMS in election monitoring, a field I have written (and ranted) much about. In fact, my now-boss was in Toronto in 2005 and with the leadership of my dear friend Ian Schuler, then also at NDI, invented SMS election data collection. I am delighted to be part of this pioneering group, the NDITech team, to take tech innovation in democracy to the next level.
What does this mean for MobileActive? Inevitably (and for those of you who are keen observers this is already obvious) there will be much less activity here. In fact, eventually, this site will go away, having served its purpose and raison d'être. For now, it'll stay up for its resources, even as those will and are dating fast. Certainly, if there is another group that would like to take on the site, please be in touch. Some of the projects we hosted will find new homes or will be repurposed. There will be appropriate announcements about that in the near future. The discussion group where people exchange ides, answer each others questions, and post jobs will stay where it is - it seems useful and still needed.
In the meantime, you will see more of me over at Demworks, NDITech's blog, and under the hashtag #tech4dem on Twitter. It's been an exhilarating, sometimes crazy, often risky, and never boring ride in the last seven years here. Thank you for the amazing community that you are.Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
Last year, the Praekelt Foundation, a South-African based philanthropy that works on mobile project, released a short video overview of the mobile technology landscape in Africa. It's one of those great "Did you know' videos - with a high production value. The video for 2012 is equally as entertaining, focusing on the 'mobile maniacs' of Africa. Take a look and enjoy!Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
Anne Shongwe is the founder and CEO of Afroes. This social enterprise is based in South Africa and in Kenya and develops interactive media solutions such as mobile games that are designed to inspire Africa’s youth to solve social challenges in their communities. Shongwe’s projets have won many awards. In 2011, Afroes won the appcircus competition with a gender violence awareness game that was developed for UN women. In 2012 Afroes won a Netexplo award.
At PICNIC 2012, Shongwe will be speaking about how mobile gaming helps to reach and activate youth and has brought about social change in South Africa. IICD hosts this session.
News station Al Jazeera recently broadcasted a story about the gender violence awareness game that was one of Shongwe’s initiatives and also interviewed her:
IICD is no stranger to PICNIC. In 2011, IICD IICD co-organised the one-day COMM 2011 programme at the festival about what innovation and creativity can do for the development Africa and Latin America.
Picnic 2012 is held on September 17 and 18 2012 in the Eye Film Institute, Amsterdam. Shongwe will speak on 1the first day of the festival at 2.50 PM.
The DVD is called ‘The World of the Baure” and will be included in schools in a greater program to emphasise Bolivian indigenous cultures and preserve them. It is an interactive DVD that will feature encyclopedia type of information, but also many video and sound clips. The advantage of these educational DVDs over a website is that even schools without an internet connection can use this material. Additionally, the DVDs can also be used by the Baure themselves to educate people about their history and customs.
The Baure are an an indigenous group of the Bolivian Amazon, inhabiting Baures village and the nearby small communities. Their numbers have slowly dwindled and currently, there are only 50 people left who still speak the Baure language. Several Baure have already been interviewed about their local customs and their language for the DVD and videos, audio clips and images are already collected.
The DVD is part of a bigger programme to preserve indigenous cultures by using multimedia. This is supported by IICD and Edukans through the Connect4Change consortium and Bolivian indigenous group supporter APCOB. For the Baure project, the Indigenous Center of Baures is also closely involved.
A detailed project description is available on the international transparency ‘Really Simple Reporting’ platform, created by software developer Akvo. Donations to the project can be made on this page.
The young Peruvians are participating in various radio spots, television and online social networks, disseminating and raising awareness about the benefits of consuming organic products that are healthy, chemical free and nutritious and focusing on the ecological impact of agricultural practices. They also invite people to buy products at ‘Fruits of the Earth’ Ecological Fairs (EcoFairs) in the areas of Cusco, Áncash and Cajamarca. These fairs function as a point of sale where local organic farmers can sell their products.
The young Peruvian organic ambassadors are also present at the fairs to provide the public with even more information about organic farming and ecologically sound agricultural practices. They are equipped with laptops, digital cameras and recorders, as well as printers, mobile phones and routers for wireless internet to make sure that they collect and disseminate information wherever they go.
Maylie Carrasco is one of the young people who participates in the project. In a Peruvian news show, she explains about agro-ecological products and invites consumers to visit the EcoFair Fruits of the Earth (in Spanish):
Increasing market access to over 500 ecological producers
The ambassadors all come from organic farmers families that are associated with the National Association of Ecological Producers in Peru. The underlying goal of this initiative is to improve the income and increase the access to the market for over 500 families of ecological producers by informing the public on the advantages of organic and ecologically sound agricultural products so that they buy products from the EcoFair. This project is supported by IICD and ICCO through the Connect4Change alliance.
Developing capacities through workshops
Before starting their campaign to draw the attention of the public to the benefits of organic farming and viewing agricultural areas as ecosystems, the young organic ambassadors participated in workshops that trained them on how to create blogs and use social media for promotional activities. These workshops also trained them in various speaking techniques, to optimise their presentations and be able to communicate to the public the advantages of organic production. They also learned to use the Internet as a tool for research in databases specialised in organic production.
The US Broadcasting Board of Governors and the US organization Freedom House recently collaborated on a new study on mobile safety in 12 countries. The study, Safety on the Line: Exposing the myth of mobile security (PDF), sets out to investigate two distinct areas: 1. Testing of specific mobile applications (with a strong focus on circumvention tech) vis a vis their security and usability; and 2. a very small survey of users in 12 countries about their use and security challenges of mobile telephony.
The BBG, as the parent of news outlets such as the Voice of America and Voice of Asia, is, of course, keenly interested in delivering content to various countries without a free media, so the report emphasizes circumvention tools and barriers to online content, and focuses on countries of particular interest to the BBG.
The study is peculiar. It seems rather an internal assessment than one aimed at a particular audience (other than the US Congress that funds the coffers of the BBG) and there are a number of significant flaws with it. The findings such as this one:
"A study of the technical aspects of GSM and later mobile networks used for both voice, text, and internet access teaches us that there are significant flaws in the security of mobile networks that could be exploited for the purpose of blocking and monitoring"
are hardly revolutionary to anyone who works in repressive environments.
The study is poorly written with sentences such as this one, describing the selection of mobile apps chosen for 'testing': "A specific risk of selecting applications is the need for them to function across many smartphone platforms. Applications that only work for one platform may require users to employ more ubiquitous, but insecure services such as email, voice, or text chat." We honestly have no idea what that means.
Equally opaque is the scoring system used to arrive at the conclusion that, for instance, skype on iOS is classified as 'good' in regard to its security features while it is 'adequate' on the Symbian operating system while garnering the exact same number of 'stars' all the while Skype has come under considerable attack for its inadequate security. Freedom House has previously been criticised for its evaluations of circumvention software and while the methodology in this report is marginally more sound, there are significant questions about the assessments.
Likewise, there are flaws with the methodology of assessing user behaviour and perceptions vis a vis mobile security risks. As Katy Pearce, an experienced researcher on tech use in some of the hardest-to-survey countries notes, the study is unclear how respondents (total n for all 12 countries is a paltry 1,644) were recruited. Asked via email, she writes, "If it was a snowball sampling (asking people to identify who else they know), that can be a threat to validity." She also noted that "web based surveys are problematic for many reasons. One, you're self-selecting only those with some tech skills already, thus skewing your answers. Also when people answer web surveys they tend to just click through answers." Pearce notes that typically such surveys are conducted face-to-face, especially in countries that are extremely hard to survey.
The extremly small sample size makes one wonder, in Pearce's words, "What we can infer from this? Why does this matter at all?"
The report is useful in one respect: The analysis of the mobile market in the 12 specific countries, and more specifically, the cost analysis of mobile communications. Price and handset market analysis for all countries is something that the ITU (as the chronicler of this information) ought to make available at no cost. Currently, the information is only available at a cost, is old almost 12 months, and does not include handset information for each country.
In the end, though, there is hardly anything new in this report that is not already rather well known: Mobiles are ubiquitous, increasingly used by citizens for activism, content generation, and accessing online content; strictly controlled and highly insecure mini-computers that are subject to significant surveillance as mobile operators exist within a highly regulated and government-controlled environment. Unfortunately, other than stating the obvious, the BBG/Freedom House study does little to substantively add any additional usable information about the degree of surveillance, technical capabilities, or actual incidences of mobile data use against activists or human rights defenders. It is a missed opportunity to push for greater transparency, accountability, or changes in this mobile environment we all work in.Screen shot 2012-07-30 at 6.37.26 PM.png Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
Mobile Data, FTW! The GSMA Development Fund Steps It Up with The Mobile Development Intelligence Database
One of the issues we all struggle with as we are working in mobile tech for social change and development is the lack of reliable data on mobile use, penetration, and costs. The GSMA sells a service, Wireless Intelligence, that provides detailed data on mobile subscriptions worldwide as well as country- and carrier-based information. Unfortunately, it is priced out of reach for most NGOs and places limitations on the use of that data. The ITU that should, under its mandate, provide accurate and timely mobile data, but does not. Data from the ITU is late and often available only at a cost that is too steep for many NGOs.
Now, the GSMA Development Fund is trying to address this gap with the launch of a new date site, the Mobile and Development Intelligence (MDI) project. The MDI contains about 70 metrics and the ability to tabulate, graph, map and export the datasets with country-level dashboards for 140 developing world countries. The database aims aggregates publicly available data from sources such as the ITU, the World Bank, and that of development organizations that can supply data about their projects and organizations themselves, as well as some data from the proprietary GSMA Wireless Intelligence service.What is there?
MDI has a number of metrics in a variety of sectors that include the mobile industry, health, mobile money, societal metrics such as population and metrics focused on the economy. For the mobile industry,metrics include contract and prepaid connection numbers, GSM coverage by area and population, market penetration, mobile broadband upload and download speeds, and number of mobile operators. Nokia is also supplying data on the 'total cost of ownership' - an aggregate number on what a user has to spend on a phone and airtime on average to operate a phone. This is, unfortunately, an imprecise metric for organizations as they are trying to assess the cost of running mobile programs in a country.
MDI also provides data on organizations, companies, and and their products and services that include both NGOs and development organizations as well as commercial providers.
This, undoubtedly, could prove to be the most important aspect of the MDI that allows anyone to assess who is doing what where.What is missing?
The MDI so far covers only 140 countries out of 196 (by the most generous count) countries globally. Countries represented are "developing countries" according to the site, but how that is defined is not specified. (And, under that definition we are not sure how Poland or Chile, decidedly middle-income countries are included).
There is also important data missing from its mobile metrics, most notable the costs of SMS/voice and availability and costs of mobile data services. One of the metrics for which there is very little data anywhere is the prevalence of specific operating systems and handsets, data that is available at a premium price through private vendors and that is critically important market data for any development project. Unfortunately, there is no data on devices at all in the MDI.
All in all, we think this is a great start and laudable effort; and something that we tried to do on a shoestring for a long time until we found that we could not support accurate data over time or display it well without considerable resources. We like the look and feel of the site, and while we understand that the GSMA Development Fund does not want to cannibalize its own profitable Wireless Intelligence operation, we had hoped that more data from WI would be available freely. Perfection should not be the enemy of the good but device and cost data will be critical to add for any development effort to make intelligent strategic deployment decisions. We say, onward, MDI - keep on adding relevant data.Countries and Regions Asia Australia and Oceania Central America and the Caribbean Middle East and North Africa South America Sub-Saharan Africa Screen shot 2012-06-13 at 3.51.54 PM.png Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
The Sunlight Foundation, always pushing the envelop on tech and open government in the United States and increasingly worldwide, launched a new service today: Call to Congress. The number 1-888-907-6886 (tol-free in the US) allows anyone to learn about how a lawmaker is voting on bills and raising their money for re-election. As the announcement states: "Being connected with your lawmakers' Capitol Hill offices and getting details on legilsation is now as easy as ordering pizza..."
The service is essentially an interactive-voice responce system that allows a user to navigate a menu tree to search a member of Congress by postal code. Lawmakers can add their biography, their top campaign donors, recent votes and allows a caller to be transferred directly to the Reprentative's office. The service also provides bills currently under consideration in both the House and the Senate, including upcoming votes. The service is available in English and Spanish with the goal of bridging the online/mobile divide increasingly common in the US where especially ethnic and lingual minorities access the web via their mobile devices. Call to Congres is at its core powered by Twilio, a cloud communications API. Technically, the Sunlight team reports, is Twilio, a cloud communications API. More technical details about the service are on this blog post but in essence, here is how it works (paraphrasing the post mentioned)
- Twilio can generate dynamic responses that are spoken back to the user using Twilio's text-to-speech feature. We can have recordings of a spoken script play for static content or even play music, if we had the need. We can even forward phone calls so that users can be connected directly to the office of their representative without having to write down the phone number and dial the call. (Incidentally, Twilio also has SMS features that, while not used on this project, are used on our other new service, Scout.)
- To create multi-lingual content, each bit of text used in the application is run through a series of steps to determine the proper response. All of the text is written in English in the code, but is internationalized by creating an MD5 hash of the text, determining the response language, checking for a cached translated copy of the text if it is not in English, generating a translated copy of the text using the Google Translate API, generating an audio file name based on the MD5 hash and a slugged chunk of the text, doing a HEAD request to S3 to see if an audio file exists for the chunk of text, responding either with a Twilio Say command using the translated chunk of text or a Play command with the S3 URL of the audio file, if one exists.
- Aall of the features on Call to Congress are powered by existing Sunlight APIs: Member lookup by ZIP code and contact information is powered by the Congress API, bill information comes from the Real Time Congress API, and campaign contributions and member biographies are provided by the Influence Explorer API.
- Finally, Sunlight usesTurboVote for the API that allows the to provide information about local election offices.
Very smartly, Sunlight leverages the "logic that combines the Twilio, Google Translate, and Sunlight APIs into a single application." Congrats on the launch, and if you are a United States voter, go check it out by calling 1-888-907-6886 in the US.Countries and Regions United States Screen shot 2012-06-11 at 4.04.43 PM.png Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
This is the final post of this three-part blog series co-authored by Lisa Kienzle, Ali Ndiwalana, Olga Morawczynski and Ignacio Mas on saving with mobile money using deferred payments or “Me2Me” transactions. The first post explored user reactions to deferred payments and to goal-based accounts, gathered through focus groups. The second post looked at rewards that help individuals set aside money to meet financial goals. Today, the authors discuss ways to encourage individuals to keep money in their savings vehicle(s).
During the focus groups in Fort Portal, in western Uganda, people quickly grasped the notion of deferred payments as a means of saving. However, one of the most common questions that people asked was, “What if I need to access my money earlier?"
Liquidity is always top of mind especially for people near the bottom of the economic pyramid, of course. We tested several features, ranging from full illiquidity (can’t touch the money until a specified future date) to full liquidity (take out any amount, anytime). But we also presented a few other options to the individuals in our test group:
- Applying social pressure (for example, what if a friend had to approve early withdrawals?)
- Preventing impulse purchases (what if early withdrawals were possible, but not in small amounts – everything had to be withdrawn at once, on the assumption that it was only for large emergencies?)
- Deferred access (what if early withdrawals required a 24-hour waiting period, to avoid impulsive spending?)
There was no clear winner and, in fact, each option generated lively discussions. We found that people like the extreme options for the standard reasons: prohibiting them from accessing funds would help them save, while having access anytime assures them that they can manage any financial eventualities.
Though many individuals liked the idea of a friend as gatekeeper, others perceived goals as private and argued that changing their plan should be their individual choice. Several appreciated that a 24-hour delay period provided time to reconsider, while others said emergencies required money immediately.
And though the all-or-nothing approach seemed like a good compromise in providing immediate access while minimizing impulse spending, one woman said that being forced to take all her money out even when she needed a fraction, felt like failure – like the system was punishing her. The challenge is how to strike a balance between helping people meet their savings goal on one hand, while giving them the flexibility to access their savings to address unexpected risks on the other.
As highlighted in our first post, financial goals can be transitory. The key is to build up discipline for saving. Having the right incentives or rewards can help users set money aside to meet different savings goals. Poor people need and want disciplined savings vehicles but they also need and want choice – the choice to leave funds untouched and out of sight, or the choice to tap into the pot if an emergency requires it.
Some want more restrictions on access, while others want fewer. The trick will be providing vehicles that achieve the purpose of saving toward a target but are flexible enough to cater to unforeseen shocks.
In these three posts we've discussed ways that deferred savings vehicles could improve upon current savings methods. Mobile network operators and financial service providers want to keep several considerations in mind when developing this type of product:
- How could organizations create goal-based products for users who have looser notions of the concept of goals?
- What rewards can an organization offer that would be compelling to a down-market customer?
- How could organizations design liquidity options that support savings behaviors but provide enough flexibility to address emergencies?
Poor people can’t afford to be illiquid, but they also can’t afford to be unprepared. Savings goals are diverse in their nature and timeframe, so it is likely that people will want a variety of options. In a world where putting away money yields little reward and currency comes in the form of livestock and land, what’s the best way to offer simple yet varied product features when it’s no longer cash, but liquidity, that is king?Countries and Regions Sub-Saharan Africa Uganda focus group 3.jpg Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
'mHealth to Improve TB Care' is a new report demonstrating the enormous potential for mobile health (mHealth) to revolutionize the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Mobile phones provide TB care with much needed impetus, and initiatives intending to reap the benefits of this nascent field are launching all across the globe.
In sharing the experiences of 31 TB-focused mHealth initiatives, this report seeks to lay the foundation for what will become an extensive knowledge-sharing and partnerships network benefitting all stakeholders in the field of TB, both old and new.
E-mail the authors at TB_mHealth@irdresearch.orgResearch Paper - Link to or Upload Paper URL: http://www.stoptb.org/assets/d... Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes
Global crowdsourcing platforms could offer new employment opportunities to low-income workers in developing countries. However, the impact to date has been limited because poor communities usually lack access to computers and the Internet.
This paper presents mClerk, a new platform for mobile crowdsourcing in developing regions. mClerk sends and receives tasks via SMS, making it accessible to anyone with a low-end mobile phone. However, mClerk is not limited to text: it leverages a little-known protocol to send small images via ordinary SMS, enabling novel distribution of graphical tasks. Via a 5-week deployment in semi-urban India, we demonstrate that mClerk is effective for digitizing local-language documents. Usage of mClerk spread virally from 10 users to 239 users, who digitized over 25,000 words during the study. We discuss the social ecosystem surrounding this usage, and evaluate the potential of mobile crowdsourcing to both deliver and derive value from users in developing regions.Location Countries: India Research Paper - Link to or Upload Paper URL: http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~aak... Featured?: No Featured on homepage?: No
MobileActive's SaferMobile project is running two trainings at the Internet at Liberty conference on mobile security with colleagues from IWPR, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and UC Berkeley. We’ll be demoing common mobile threats and provide hands-on tips on how to better protect yourself.
We put together a set of resources in a ‘mobile security survival kit’ for activists and journalists with practical tips and advice. They are all online at SaferMobile.org but we are also compiling here in a Primer Toolkit on Mobile Security. You'll find:
- Tips for SaferTwitter, SaferYoutube, SaferFacebook, SaferEmail, and SaferPhotos on your mobile phone
- Mobile Risks Assessment Guide
- Mobile Tactics for Participants in Peaceful Assemblies
- Mobile Journalist Survival Guide
- Primer on Geolocation
- Important Security Considerations for Satellite Phones
- And lots of useful worksheets that guide you in assessing your operational environment: Rating Your Mobile Info Sensitivity, and your operational environment 1, 2, 3, 4
- We are also including the slides we are using for this workshop on MobileSecSurvival Slides 1 and MobileSec Survival Slides 2.
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Mobile Phones and Rural Livelihoods: Diffusion, Uses, and Perceived Impacts Among Farmers in Rural Uganda
To successfully use mobile phones to aid development efforts, understanding the impact of the social structure on mobile phone adoption, uses, perceived impacts, and reinvention of uses is invaluable. Interviews were conducted with 90 mobile phone-owning holders of small-to-medium-sized farms, 50 women and 40 men, actively involved in agricultural development-based farm groups in Kamuli District, Uganda. Respondents indicated use of the mobile phone for coordinating access to agricultural inputs, market information, to monitor finanancial transactions, and to consult with agricultural experts. Over time, the number and variety of agricultural uses increased among all users, indicating that adoption occurs for a few key purposes, but that uses will be added or reinvented to meet changing needs. This study identified a number of unique uses, including storing local market trends in the calendar, using the speakerphone function for group consultation with agricultural experts, and taking photos of agricultural demonstrationsLocation Countries: Uganda Research Paper - Link to or Upload Paper URL: http://itidjournal.org/itid/ar... Upload Paper: 789-2211-1-PB.pdf Citation: Lee Martin, Brandie, Eric Abbott. "Mobile Phones and Rural Livelihoods: Diffusion, Uses, and Perceived Impacts Among Farmers in Rural Uganda." (2011) Information Technologies and International Development Volume 7, Number 4, Winter 2011, 17 – 34. Featured?: No Featured on homepage?: No
This study examines how low-income Kenyans use M-PESA, that country's pioneering mMoney service. The study focuses on (1) the value of M-PESA to low-income individuals; (2) the most likely areas for M-PESA's future growth; and (3) whether M-PESA can serve as a platform for financial services beyond remittances.
Taken from the transactions of 92 individuals over eight months, the study found that "cash is king." mMoney's share of transactions was less than 6 percent, compared to more that 94 percent for cash. M-PESA is still primarily used to send money home, usually from urban to rural, and cash out almost always happens quickly, often the same day the remittance is received. Respondents did not appear to use M-PESA as a de facto savings account, but the services was an important part of their coping strategies for unusual large expenses, particularly hospital bills.
The study looks at ways M-PESA usage mimic cash usage patterns. It also examines the "e-money loop" - the number of times an e-money unit is transferred between being cashed out.Location Countries: Kenya Research Paper - Link to or Upload Paper URL: http://www.microfinanceopportu... Upload Paper: cash_in_cash_out_kenya.pdf Citation: Stuart, Guy, Monique Cohen. "Cash In, Cash Out Kenya: The Role of M-PESA In The Lives Of Low-Income People" (2011) The IRIS Center at the University of Maryland, College Park and Microfinance Opportunities. Featured?: No Featured on homepage?: No
In West and Northern Africa, mobile phone coverage has been expanding parallel to increased attempts by Africans to migrate overland to Europe. This paper explores possible links between the two phenomena, looking specifically into the role of mobile phones in trans-Saharan migration. It provides a first detailed description of the telecommunication processes underlying contemporary trans-Saharan migration. An analytical framework is presented that helps to explain how mobile phones facilitate migration by interacting with the social and spatial factors shaping migrants’ mobility. By drawing on this framework and fieldwork conducted among Congolese migrants in Morocco, it is shown that the expansion of the communication infrastructure is, on the one hand, only one of several factors that have turned the region into a more ‘transitable’ space. On the other hand, the use of mobile phones is demonstrated to be central to the migration process: migrants draw on the unprecedented accessibility of contacts equipped with mobile phones to tie together novel, geographically expansive networks. Phones are also shown to be used by migrants’ ‘helpers’ for the purpose of internal coordination.Location Global Regions: Middle East and North Africa Research Paper - Link to or Upload Paper URL: http://ha3.www.mendeley.com/re... Citation: Schaub, Max Leonard. "Lines Across The Desert: Mobile Phone Use and Mobility in the Context of Trans-Saharan Migration". Information Technology for Development (2011) Volume: 18, Issue: 2, Pages: 1-19 Featured?: No Featured on homepage?: No
Understanding the causes and effects of internal migration is critical to the effective design and implementation of policies that promote human development. However, a major impediment to deepening this understanding is the lack of reliable data on the movement of individuals within a country.
In this paper, we describe how mobile phones can provide a new source of data on internal migration. As these technologies quickly proliferate throughout the developing world, billions of individuals are now carrying devices from which it is possible to reconstruct detailed trajectories through time and space.
Using Rwanda as a case study, we demonstrate how such data can be used in practice. Our empirical results corroborate the findings of a recent government survey that notes relatively low levels of permanent migration in Rwanda. However, our analysis reveals more subtle patterns that were not detected in the government survey.Location Countries: Rwanda Research Paper - Link to or Upload Paper URL: http://www.jblumenstock.com/fi... Upload Paper: jblumenstock_itd2012_wp.pdf Citation: Blumenstock, Joshua. "Inferring Patterns of Internal Migration From Mobile Phone Call Records: Evidence From Rwanda" (2011) Featured?: No Featured on homepage?: No