CRS Emergency Needs Assessment in Madagascar


A presentation on CRS' use of Ipods, GPS and IFormbuilder for Emergency Need Assessment in Madagascar.

This solution was presented at the recent CRS ICT4D Conference in Nairobi. For those of you who did not have a chance to attend the conference and watch it there, here’s a chance to get the details from, and interact with, the CRS Madagascar project team Laura Dills and Daniel Andriatsimba.

Catholic Relief Services in Madagascar has traditionally used paper-based surveys and forms to collect data and to conduct emergency needs assessments. Clearly, there are several problems including:

  1. a lack of real-time data for decision-making
  2. inefficient use of human and other resources
  3. high risk of human error and data inaccuracy.

In the past, the CRS team took seven days to collect data, and a month for analysis, by which time the situation on the ground had already evolved.

In 2012, CRS/Madagascar began to look for a technological solution to these problems. The solution proposed was to use iPod Touch hardware (4th and 5th generation), GPS accessories and IFormbuilder as the data collection software. CRS followed some basic steps: 1) conversion of a Word or Excel document into an iForm questionnaire; 2) training of users in how to manipulate iPods and enter data into iFormbuilder; 3) data collection and entry, directly into an iForm on the iPod; 4) synching up data to an online dataset, via wifi; 5) exporting data from iFormbuilder into Excel or a statistical application for analysis.

Thus far, the solution meets CRS/Madagascar’s data needs:

  • For the first pilot, principal emergency actors had the needs assessment results 24 hours after the disaster hit. In other words: the iPods made the difference between having data that could be used to make life-saving decisions and data that was outdated and practically useless.
  • There are also human resource efficiencies inherent in using iPods with iFormbuilder i.e. one person was able to complete the emergency needs assessment in a day, which would not have been possible with the paper survey.  iForms automatically fill in data that repeat for different sectors and CRS staff found it faster to tap out answers on the iPod than to write them down—and  easier to get around without so much paper.
  • In addition using paper is easily lost, damaged, and not in line with our “go  green” strategy-protecting the environment of Madagascar.





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