Original article published on Nutrition RapidSMS blog. To read the original article, click here.

Today the Senegalese Division de l’Alimentation et Nutrition et la Survie d’Enfant (DANSE) along with the Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Démographie (ANSD) launches the National Nutrition Survey 2015.

Sen 24Oct

Intensive advocacy for introduction of more robust and labor saving survey tools led the survey technical commitee to agree to use mobile devices for data collection at the last minute. The agile technical committee was able to quickly adopt the mobile data collection with active technical support from UNICEF and WFP. The Senegal National Nutrition Survey marks the first opportunity to use the newly developed ODK questionnaire with WHO flags in the field.

As decision to integrate mobile devices was made in early October.  The survey methodologies called for the data to be entered on paper questionnaires and the mobile device at the same time.  In the field test, this double effort was difficult for teams with less experience in surveys but immedately adopted by the more proficient teams.

The ODK tool has been rigorously tested found to be rapid, robust and simple to use. An ODK design pattern was identified in the field testing to present a data entry error.  ODK has safety mechanisms to prevents data loss that can block data entry if gross errors are made, for example if data are entered on the weight and height of a woman and then the interviewer changed the sex of the person to male.  This creates a data link error as the weight and height data are protected from deletion but are no longer linked to a household member. The solution is to exit without saving and start with a new questionnaire on the mobile device.

As data collection on mobile devices in Senegal has become more common over the past five years, the survey was able to employ a large number of interviewers with significant experience and capacity for mobile data collection.

A quick review of lessons learned during the training and testing process were:

  • Integrate the mobile device into the entire training process from beginning to end, for example in the registration of trainees, the standardization of anthropometrists, the standardization of anthropometric equipment and the survey questionnaire.
  • Identify the early adopters of technology who are skilled in use of mobile devices and use them as a resource to trainers to ensure all team members learn how to correctly use the mobile device.
  • Buy a small data plan for all mobile devices to send data immediately over 3G / Edge networks but lock access to online diversions like facebook and youtube with an app such as App Lock or similar.
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