Using FrontlineSMS with radio to share information on food aid in KenyaIn the FieldPublished April 4, 2012 at 13:52 1 Comment
As part of World Vision’s food aid programme in south east Kenya, FrontlineSMS is being used to improve delivery of supplies, share information with beneficiaries and gather data from rural communities. Under a mutliplatform approach they are also working with the popular local radio Anguo FM to relay information on issues including malnutrition in children, market price information of livestock and descriptions about food aid packages content and delivery.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation who is working with infoasaid on this project whose focus in on improving how aid agencies communicate with disaster-affected communities.
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World Vision and infoasaid recently teamed up in Taita-Taveta County, south east Kenya to implement a communication project aimed at improving the delivery of World Vision’s food aid programme. The project also aims to improve the timeliness and efficiency of data collection from rural communities who are engaged in World Vision’s Cash for Assets and Food for Assets programmes.
Through a sponsored 45 minute weekly show on local radio station Anguo FM and via messages sent to mobile telephones, communities are relayed information on issues ranging from how to spot signs of malnutrition in children to prices of livestock in the main local markets to a description of content on the latest food aid package along with date of delivery.
“We believe that the combination of local radio and mobile telephony will improve the overall effectiveness of our programmes, and make them more in line with and responsive to the needs and priorities of the crisis-affected population in Taita-Taveta”, said Jacinta Oichoe, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for World Vision Kenya (WVK), based in Nairobi.
The communication project was designed following a scoping mission, conducted by infoasaid in November 2011. This involved undertaking a brief information needs and access assessment of the drought-affected population via questionnaires and a number of community meetings, followed by interviews with key staff on the challenges faced by World Vision in their food aid programme and in their development work.
After assessing the media and telecoms landscape, infoasaid recommended a multi-platform approach, using the County’s extremely popular and sole Taita-speaking radio station – Anguo FM – and mobile telephony, via FrontlineSMS – an open source platform that can send out messages to multiple recipients from a computer.
infoasaid then conducted a training in January 2012 for World Vision staff, technical experts from the Ministries of Public Health, Livelihoods, Agriculture and Arid Lands and staff from Anguo FM. The training covered all aspects of communication – from how to conduct information needs assessments, community profiling, building partnerships, media training, messaging and contextualisation, the pros and cons of using mobile phones, how to set up a FrontlineSMS hub and data collection using Frontline forms.
At the end of the training, infoasaid gave 84 Java-enabled mobile phones and solar charger kits to be distributed to community representatives known as Project Committees across the whole County. Over the subsequent weeks, food monitors, led by WVK’s Accountability, Monitoring and Evaluations Officer went round all the Project Committees, and conducted training on this new channel of communication.
In the last month, communities have received information via Project Committees on commodity and livestock prices, alerts on programme changes, status of cash deposits and codes of conduct for humanitarian staff. In turn, community representatives have used the phones to send WV messages about problems in the community, requests for assistance and questions about programme delivery.
Above: Emmanuel Kilio, World Vision’s Accountability, Monitoring and Evaluations Officer answering questions from listeners on Anguo FM. Image credit: infoasaid
Within a week of the training, the first interactive radio show on Anguo FM went on air, with the head of WVK’s Voi office being the live guest. He described WVK’s projects in the area, beneficiary criteria and how the Food for Assets and Cash for Assets programmes work. He then answered questions coming in to the programme from people across the County. The show ran over time owing to the number of calls coming in.
Subsequent programmes have featured experts not only from WVK but also from the Government Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Public Health. All have received calls and SMS messages from the community, with many expressing their appreciation of the information being shared. Even though the programmes are intended to target rural women between the ages of 15 and 40, the topics are of interest to everyone – topics have so far included poultry farming techniques, post-harvest management, nutrition and the importance of a balanced diet.
“We mobilise the communities to listen and participate in the radio programme through SMS, and via short radio spots or promos advertising the show the day before. The radio programme complements our other feedback mechanisms and where possible we try to address any concerns raised on the programme as quickly as possible. So far we’ve had a great response from our beneficiaries who really seem to appreciate this new form of communication.”
The infoasaid-supported project will run until the beginning of July. A learning review will be conducted to capture impact and lessons learned in late June.