13 Apr 2018
Building Local Digital Capacity in the Rohingya Response

UNICEF Bangladesh is now undertaking their field monitoring digitally on electronic tablets, thanks to the support of Australia Assists deployee Anthea Moore.

Anthea has been working as a Humanitarian Performance Monitoring officer with UNICEF in Cox’s Bazar since December, improving the way the humanitarian and development agency is monitoring the refugee settlement, where more than 688,000 Rohingyas have fled.

During the first few months of her six-month deployment, Anthea has helped introduce KoBo Toolbox, an open-source digital data collection and analysis tool kit, designed specifically for use in humanitarian responses.

KoBo Toolbox allows monitoring of programme implementation, household interviews, GPS locations, and photographs of facilities and potential hazards to be collected and submitted electronically, and available for analysis and mapping within minutes.

Anthea said, “The data allows UNICEF to identify areas of relative deprivation, and compare the performance of different implementing partners. By identifying gaps and weaknesses, programming decisions can then be made to improve UNICEF’s humanitarian response.”   

Humanitarian Performance Monitoring Officer Anthea Moore. Photo: Max Greenstein, RedR Australia

UNICEF field monitors have been working to establish a baseline of data before the rainy season this April, so that any deterioration in services and access can be identified and responded to. All of this is carried out using electronic tablets, but Anthea says the technology isn’t everything.

“This technology is not a solution in itself, rather it is a tool that can improve efficiency by eliminating the need for data entry and incorporation of GPS and photo data,” Anthea commented. 

“For any form of data collection to be meaningful, you need a strong understanding of the programs and a monitoring framework.”

Before introducing KoBo ToolBox, Anthea worked closely with sections within UNICEF to understand their monitoring needs, and jointly designed and launched data collection questionnaires. Over 7,000 of these digital questionnaire responses were collected by UNICEF on the tablets by the end of March.

Anthea also ran nine coaching sessions for more than 40 UNICEF staff and contractors on the use of KoBo Toolbox and ‘soft skills’ like interview techniques and reducing bias. Sections are now receiving ‘super-user’ training to learn to design their own digital questionnaires, ensuring the sustainability of the approach.

Photo credit: UNICEF Bangladesh