The rains have started in South Sudan. They are early this year in the southern part of the country. While the rains bode well for agriculture in this new nation recovering from years of war and conflict, rain affects the ability to travel, implement projects and share information.
I recently returned from Juba and the towns of Wau and Kuajok in the northern part of the country where we tested the feasibility of using mobile phones to collect data for our programs. Using mobile phones allows for faster, cleaner data entry and the real-time availability of data.
With a simple smart phone, which currently costs just over $100, data can be mapped to a web-based platform in real time or can be exported for further analysis. But what could this mean for Pact and for the people of South Sudan?
This kind of information would serve to improve our targeting of communities. We could have a real-time understanding of the reach and outcomes of our mentoring work with civil society groups (last year the Pact South Sudan team worked with nearly 100 civil society groups to improve their organizational performance). Tracking of citizens’ access to justice and court-case monitoring in the nascent legal system is another potential use of mobile technology. Faster access to information on bottlenecks or trends in cases may one day serve to improve people’s access to justice and reduce conflict. Further, mobile technology can be used to report real-time problems with boreholes or other water systems and track which communities have received training on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
Importantly, mobile technology can help us to keep the information flowing even though the rains have started.
In 2013, the South Sudan team will incorporate the use of mobile-phone technology to improve the efficiency and quality of Pact’s assistance and the timeliness of our data for making decisions in programming. South Sudan is the latest Pact country to use this technology, joining Nigeria, Myanmar, Swaziland, Namibia, Tanzania and Cambodia.