In my previous blog post, I wrote about how mobile technology is helping for monitoring and evaluation of projects, precisely about use of CommCare application. Moving further, as WhatsApp mobile messenger has emerged one among growing messenger’s vis-à-vis its voice and more soon adding the video calling facility, I thought to use it for evidence building for the work done, again contributing to make monitoring real time. First and foremost, as users are well familiar with its use, it doesn’t require any additional skill set. Also, in terms of evidence building, which in many cases especially for daily data collection is challenging is simplified. There are other wide range of mobile based solutions for evidence building, what distinguishes WhatsApp from the rest its wide and simple use. In one of the projects implemented by Breakthrough, users (referred as field team members) have been asked to share the pictures of completed assignments given to school children related to its GBSS project. As the field team members receive assignments back, they verify it and share its picture using WhatsApp – there and then. Not just it helped to verify assignments, it also helped to make the data collection instant and updating the project database at the same time. After sharing pictures of completed assignments, a count of all completed assignments is verified and pictures of all assignments shared are considered as complete.
While CommCare also helps to share pictures in the data collection form, however, photos need to be uploaded and if to be more in number adds to difficulty of hanging due to low bandwidth (especially for users availing 2G network and overall bandwidth challenges especially in rural areas). One thing, what users and analytics person doesn’t like is taking count of pictures manually. Also, in case of many field staff members vis-à-vis number of pictures shared, manual count would become little challenging. Interestingly, WhatsApp is a platform used to share pictures of assignments and should be considered as part of monitoring and evaluation of system of an organization. Considering this, evidence building was highly challenging in earlier time (pre mobile based solutions) as data collection was delayed – something which was required daily used to be collected and shared on bi-weekly basis in most efficient M&S systems, in case of lesser ones it used to be monthly. The difference in terms of data collection for evidence building is evident much in terms of efficiency and its time cost effectiveness – former being cost free and real time and latter ones highly costly, delayed and less user friendly.
Including such mobile based solutions (in this case WhatsApp) for evidence building would directly and totally help to strengthen the M&E practices of an organization and more importantly contribute to make it real-time, innovative yet a simple practice.