Electronic Sanitation Performance Reporting, Monitoring and Aggregation
A tool that can aggregate and share community sanitation data in Tanzania.
1.2 billion people have no access to sanitation facilities, causing disease, hygiene issues, child and adult mortality among many other problems, 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. These people are split among urban and rural environments, complicating coordination between local and national governments, NGOs and CBOs and communities. Co-ordination between these groups is difficult. Technology will only go some way involving these issues, however institutional change is slow, but it is changing.
There are many crowdsourcing platforms which focus on the citizen. However few focus on the whole of the reporting chain. The citizen is important, however, the government and other organisations and people responsible for resolving the issues are important also. Making information and allowing reporting about sanitation accessible for all is important. From the national government, through regional and local government to citizens on the ground all levels are equally important, as such any platform shouldn’t focus on one user, it should focus on them all.
Tanzania needs a tool that can aggregate and share community sanitation data. This would strengthen the National Sanitation Campaign, improving the lives of millions.
In Tanzania it is very difficult to collect reliable and valid data on the number of households that have safe sanitation facilities, especially in rural areas. Communities where data is collected are geographically spread and remotely located from regional centers. Monitoring that does occur happens on paper (a sample of which is in this report: http://www.wsp.org/sites/wsp.org/files/publications/WSP_UtilizingRegisters_TSSM.pdf), this is hard to collate and draw meaningful conclusions across a the large dataset.
Sanitation information is often known at the community level and can be tracked through tools such as household registers, aggregating this information up to the national level is problematic. The data is not routinely reported and when it is, is subject to erroneous aggregation. As a result, there is no routine data being generated on national household sanitation access. There is little knowledge on which communities and areas of the country are doing well in terms of sanitation and which ones are not. This makes it difficult to make policy and programmatic decisions, and to motivate local authorities and communities. Resources are therefore not being used efficiently and millions of Tanzanians are be needlessly affected causing poor health and lost prosperity as a result.
Reports should be aggregated by:
- Number of households.
- Number of households with a latrine.
- Number of households with a toilets with a smooth and cleanable floor.
- Number of households with a toilet with a lid covering the hold.
- Numbers of households with a handwashing facility near the latrine.
This should then be subdivided by time frame – weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually – and a geographic basis – ward, district, regional, and national level – on community sanitation indicators collected by reports including. This data should also be downloadable into an excel or CSV file.
Additions to the report structure could be the potential costs of improving the sanitation facilities at that location. This could then be aggregated at ward, district, regional, and national level for a total cost of improvement, for example.
Developers should consider open source applications, Taarifa is a one application that could solve a many of these requirements. It is important to build upon existing open source software, instead of reinvention, collaborating with communities ensures a ‘stronger’ product. Taarifa is one such open source web application, developed at the London Water Hackathon in 2011, that allows people to collect and share their reports through various mediums such as SMS, Web Forms, Email or Twitter. Then taking these reports and placing them into a workflow which is managed by governments, NGOs or community organisations.
Taarifa’s data analytics and visualisations can be improved, as can the mobile site. Local integration with mobile operators for SMS and USSD would be important, however there are services which can integrate across many mobile operations and these should be considered to make the hack as generic as possible. These three issues are the focus of the hack.
- It is important to acknowledge that a mobile based solution would depend on network connectivity, especially for smart phones so low data options like SMS and USSD should be equally considered, including voice.
- SMS will have limitations on literacy levels and text size, understanding how to integrate voice messages or USSD into Taarifa would be very useful not just in this context but for others.
- Community and local views will need to be sought during any incubation period. For participants in Dar Es Salaam there is an opportunity for local developers to consider views and practices in communities during a field trip.
The user of this tool would be the government of Tanzania, specifically the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and the Prime Minister’s Office for Local Government (PMO RALG) for use within the National Sanitation Campaign and beyond.