Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

Electronic Data Collection in Emergency Response

A Training Initiative in Chiredzi & Mwenezi Districts, Zimbabwe

May 18, 2018 Humanitarian Innovation Initiative

"The workshops were conceptualized and implemented in response to the need for prompt collection of reliable information in humanitarian crisis."

Solomon Mutambara (ECRAS Team Leader)

With funding through the HI² Training Seed Grant Program and the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (CARE), three workshops on Electronic Data Collection (EDC) for Emergency Response were conducted in the Chiredzi and Mwenezi Districts of Zimbabwe as part of the larger capacity building initiative Enhancing Community Resilience and Sustainability (ECRAS). Led by HI² International Fellow Loveness Makonese and colleague Solomon Mutambara (ECRAS Team Leader), the workshops were conceptualized and implemented in response to the need for prompt collection of reliable information in humanitarian crisis. Drawing on lessons from previous disaster response efforts by different humanitarian actors that cited the lack of reliable information as a hindrance for effective response, the trainings sought to build the capacity of state and non-state actors in the use of electronic data collection systems using mobile devices.

Participants consisted of students and academic staff at Zimbabwe's Midland State University (MSU), various cross-sectoral government stakeholders, and Plan International and Care International staff from Chiredzi and Mwenezi Districts. The 65 participants of the trainings were introduced to the advantages and methodology behind using EDC. Participants were briefed on various types of assessments carried out within different contexts, such as emergency, multi-sectorial, cross sectional, and longitudinal studies, as well as the rationale for using EDC methods. The importance of EDC in emergency situations, relating to the need for informed decision making and planning, was also discussed.

The first session started with an orientation on EDC with an emphasis on how electronic systems can expedite the data collection, cleaning and analysis processes. The session touched on the different types of EDC software such as Cs Pro and Open Data Kit. After this session, participants were instructed on how to download the Kobo Collect application from Google Play store and create their own personal account. Participants were then guided through the process of designing a questionnaire with different question types, including open-ended and multiple choice questions. Skip logics and various validation options, such as mandatory responses, were also explained. Participants then uploaded their forms to the server and collected data in an enumerator-interviewee set up for demonstration purposes using their android devices.

The training sessions were successful as revealed by the change in knowledge levels, increased participation during the sessions, and willingness to train fellow students and workers among the participants. The practical and highly participatory methodology employed was effective as participants managed to install the Kobo Collect app and configure it on their mobile devices. During the survey design portion, participants were able to draw upon their own professional field experience and think about applying the lessons learned beyond the workshop setting. With the completion of this training program, the facilitators envision expanding the training to different regions with some of the trained participants facilitating future workshops. 

For more information on the HI² Training Seed Grant Program click here