Archive for the ‘ICTI’ Category

Think gardening is hard? Try farming.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Heather Thorne Matthews is the Director of Information and Communications Technology Innovation at the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center.

When I was in Uganda about a month ago, I spent 2 days living in a village with one of our CKWs, Simon, and saw first-hand how the farmers we are serving through the CKW program live.  Simon is featured in the video below where he explains the Community Knowledge Worker program to one of his fellow farmers.

I understood that life was hard for our CKWs and their neighboring farmers, but it really hit me after doing manual labor in my own small urban yard all weekend.  I had an electric edger, hoe, shovel, rake, broom, hose and wheelbarrow (albeit with a flat tire).  In comparison, the smallholder farmers we work with in Uganda work their land by hand, have few tools, rely solely on the rains to irrigate their crops, and often carry their harvest in bags on their heads, working through the day without lunch.   They come back to their huts in the evening where there is no shower, or refrigerator with iced tea to cool them off.  Yet they are thankful for what they have, and they get up each day and do it again.

By 3pm Sunday afternoon, several hours into my own gardening project, I could hardly walk.  I limped upstairs and lay flat on my cool floor for an hour, back aching and every muscle twitching.  Could I do this every day, if I had to grow my family’s food to survive?  If a Western development organization came offering to help, what could they possibly do to make my life better?

The easy answer would be “give me money”, but the more nuanced answer is give me confidence, capability, knowledge and financing so that I could buy better seeds and fertilizers, earn more from the same amount of work, and eventually increase my earnings, perhaps buying tools and hiring help so that the backbreaking work could be shared.  Once I saw my earnings increase, I could access additional financing so that I could grow my farm, diversify into new crops or livelihoods, and send my kids to school.  Once that flywheel is in motion, real change can occur, but as with all bold endeavors, the hardest part is to start.

AppLab Indonesia wins Global Telecoms Award for Best Mobile Application Innovation

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Congratulations to the AppLab Indonesia team!

From Left Aldi Haryopratomo (Ruma), John Stefanas (Qualcomm), Camilla Nestor (Grameen Foundation)

Together with our partners, Qualcomm Wireless Reach®, Ruma and Bakrie Telecom, the AppLab Indonesia team was awarded the Global Telecoms Award for the Best Mobile Application Innovation on June 7th in London.  This is well deserved recognition for the considerable investment of time, energy and creativity of the AppLab team, led by Farid Maruf in Jakarta and guided by Sean DeWitt in our Washington, D.C. office, who over the past several years has worked tirelessly to create our technology innovation hub in Indonesia.  Heather Thorne from our Seattle office and Happy Tan in our Manila office have also played instrumental roles in this achievement.

A Weekend with Simon Obwoya, Community Knowledge Worker

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Heather Thorne Matthews is the Director of Information and Communications Technology Innovation at the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center.

The hut where I slept, and woke up to the sound of cows outside the door

I spent a weekend in early May with Simon Obwoya, one of Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Workers, near Opit, Lalogi Subcounty, about 50km south-east of Gulu in Northern Uganda.  Simon is 43, and is married, with 8 children, ranging from 6 months old to 19 years old.  He and his family have 3 simple thatch-roof, mud brick huts in close proximity to their neighbors. They have no electricity, but have a bicycle, 2 cows, and about 5 acres of land (a lot compared to his neighbors) – although all plots are in separate locations within about 15-30 minutes’ walk from his hut.  He speaks very good English.

While Simon seemed to be one of the better-off farmers in his village, his family can eat just 2 meals per day right now, cooks over a wood fire within a very smoky cooking hut, and their pit toilet collapsed, so they are building a new one and borrowing a neighbors’.  In addition, his 19-year old daughter lost her baby about 3 weeks ago.  All of these factors – food insecurity, whether or not a family has improved cookstoves, access to a latrine, and infant mortality – are indicators of extreme poverty as measured by Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty (PPI) Index, even though Simon and his family are lucky enough to have land and some livestock.  The family was hoping to use Simon’s income from working as a Community Knowledge Worker and sales of ground nuts to send her back to school.

Simon surveying a local farmer

Simon surveying a local farmer

Simon is an active member of his local farming network, and uses his involvement there to promote the CKW program, and to register new farmers.  He seemed to know everyone in his and the neighboring villages, and was well respected by his neighbors and peers, many of whom were registered farmers.  When I first arrived, he took me around to introduce me to his family and immediate neighbors, and got me set up in one of the two sleeping huts that his family of 10 shares.  I got an entire half, while 3 of his daughters slept on the other half.  He was sensitive to the fact that I was probably not used to an entire village of children crowding into my bedroom, and must have requested they give me space, as there were numerous curious smiling little faces peering in the doorway and one window, but none dared to tread over the threshold.

Later that evening, we walked across the little-traveled dirt road to a neighboring village, which is near the old railroad which was abandoned by the government about 20 years ago when the violent insurgency led by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army began.  Now that people are returning from the “security camps” to their land, and learning how to farm and take care of their families again, they are wishing for the railroad, which previously allowed them to travel to visit family, to sell goods at markets, etc.  Today, they must walk, bicycle, or save their scarce funds to pay for a ride into town, where they can get better prices for their goods.

The next day was when I really began to understand the value that Simon and his fellow CKWs are bringing to their villages.  As we walked around and met with different farmers, it became clear that there are some kinds of information that have extremely high value to farmers who are living on the border between being able to send their children to school or not…or in some cases, being able to feed their families or not.  The most valuable kinds of information in this arable but very poor region included:

  • When the rains were going to come, so farmers would know when to prepare their fields, and when to plant precious seeds (I saw many bean fields that were not germinating well, because the rains were late and farmers had rushed to plant, even though Simon had advised his farmers to wait based on the weather forecast he could access through his phone)
  • What crops to plant based on harvest risk, pest/disease outbreaks, supply, etc. Almost every family I saw was planting beans and ground nuts (peanuts).  Ground nuts, while earning high prices per acre planted, are very risky, as they can rot underground if the rains are too heavy.  On the other hand, maize (corn) is an important staple crop for food security and feeding livestock, but I only saw one field of maize in all of our walks because prices per acre, when re-sold in the market, are low.
  • Market prices. When farmers know what a crop is selling for in their local trading center, as well as the village 5km away, and the town 50km away, they know whether they should spend scarce resources on paying for transportation into town
  • Improved seed varieties. Simon was able to point out when a farmer had planted an improved variety by looking at the leaves.  Often, farmers do not know the potential value of paying a little more for those varieties in terms of yield, disease resistance, water usage, etc.   If they can learn, from a trusted source, they may be more willing to plant these varieties
  • Bulking – benefits of, how to find other farmers with whom to bulk.  When farmers are growing very small quantities, they often cannot sell their crops for a good price or at all, because middlemen want to buy in larger volumes.  In addition, programs like Purchase for Progress, by the World Food Program, require certain minimum volumes and quality in order to sell in.  Providing a service that promotes the benefits of bulking, and connects farmers to other farmers (and to transport), helps close that loop.
  • Post harvest handling and quality. Simon pointed out how he was teaching farmers to pick out bugs and beans that were too small, or of bad color, to ensure the farmers could obtain the best price for their crop.

The only plow or tool I saw in use among all the farms we visited

The only plow or tool I saw in use among all the farms we visited

I only saw one field being worked by a plow, and few to none of the farmers were using fertilizer.  It was clear that having access to not only information, but appropriate financing or direct access to inputs, will be very valuable as well, in allowing farmers to increase their yields.

Another observation related to Simon’s work as a CKW is that while introducing an entirely new way to get actionable, relevant, local information to farmers where they need it, and having the ability to collect data in real-time through the phone, we must make the technology work so simply and seamlessly that it fades into the background.  For example, poor battery life on Simon’s phone meant that we had to walk back 3km to his village after conducting a few surveys, even though there were 3 more farmers he would have liked to register and survey right in that same village.  It was hot, dusty, and we wouldn’t be able to make another trip back that day.  Grameen Foundation is looking for creative software and human solutions to minimize battery drain, extend battery life, and solve issues such as this one, but this was a good reminder that technology is only an enabler of the overall solution (and if not careful, it can become a barrier!)

I came away from my stay energized by the work the CKWs are doing, and really believing in the potential of this model.  While we haven’t yet proven that the use of CKWs to extend the reach of traditional ag extension into the most remote villages can result in increased farmer yields and incomes, I believe that with deep collaboration with our extension partners, and with a focus on continuous improvement based on farmer and CKW feedback, we’ll get there.

Simon and his family saying goodbye in front of their house

Simon and his family saying goodbye in front of their house

Simon and other CKWs like to describe their work as “volunteer” – because earning the respect of their peer farmers seems to be of most importance to them.  At the same time, they are able to earn about $20/month (after paying back part of the cost of their phone and battery) for performing CKW services.  For a farmer like Simon, this may almost double his family’s household income.  He was hoping to use his income from CKW services and sales of ground nuts to send their 19-year-old daughter—the one who had lost her infant child—back to school.  Maybe she’ll be the next CKW in her village… Or maybe she’ll go on to earn a degree and become Grameen Foundation’s next Gulu field officer…  Keep her in school, and there’s no telling what is possible.

First Village Phone Operator graduates from AppLab Indonesia Solutions for the Poorest program

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Indonesia, in partnership with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, and social business PT Ruma, operate a mobile microfranchising program to provide the poor and poorest with business opportunities based on the mobile phone.  Currently the micro franchisees sell mobile phone airtime credits to their customers.  Most poor people start their micro-franchise with $11 for working capital.  For the poorest of the poor this can present a challenge.  Grameen Foundation designed a program to enable the poorest to participate in the mobile microfranchising program.  It consists of a working capital loan of $11 and intensive support from our field officers on setting up and running the business.  Micro-franchisees in the program graduate when they have paid back the working capital loan.

Suwadih (L) and Ibu Hanifa (R sitting)

Ibu Hanifa, 30, recently became the first micro franchisee to graduate from our Solutions for the Poorest program.  Along with her husband Suwadih, she is the parent of two, a 4th grader and a 8 month old.  They live together in the same house with Suwadih’s parents and his brother and family  in Kuniceran (on the western outskirts of Jakarta).   Ibu Hanifa’s income from reselling mobile airtime supplements Suwadih’s home based electronic repair business.  Ibu Hanifa is our best airtime reseller, with around 10 daily transactions. We are very proud of the hard work that she has done and we look forward to more members of our Solutions for the Poorest program graduating.

Congrats to OpenIDEO challenge winners using MOTECH!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

OpenIDEO along with Nokia and Oxfam recently ran a challenge on maternal health entitled “How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low income countries?”  The challenge brief was:

OpenIDEO has partnered with Oxfam and Nokia to explore how mobile technologies can be used to improve maternal health (particularly in pregnancy and childbirth). We’re asking you, the OpenIDEO community, to come up with inspirations and concepts around improving the knowledge and access to maternal health services, specifically where mobile technologies can be used as a tool to aid this. We’re focusing our solutions in low-income countries, such as Burkina Faso and Bangladesh. In many such countries fees for health care prevent millions of mothers from seeking the professional care they need or where under-investment means health works or medicines are unavailable.

Free Maternity Camps

Free Maternity Camps

There were many great responses and we’re glad that two of them, Free Maternity Camps and CareGiver Solution for Midwives, were both based on Grameen Foundation’s Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) platform.  Free Maternity Camps would “send medical teams from a base hospital to remote areas where moms-to-be will be examined by doctors. The concept of the maternity camps is inspired by Aravind’s free eye camps in India.”  The CareGiver Solution for Midwives would “help midwives/HCW monitor expecting mothers, identify risk pregnancies and involve a doctor when required.”

Congrats to Krassimira Iordanova who submitted these winning concepts.  We’re looking forward to learning how they turn out.

Building a Power Company that Serves the Rural Poor

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Sean Krepp, Country Director Grameen Foundation Uganda

ReadySet™ Charging Phones

Building a power company that serves the rural Ugandan poor is a tall order.  Rural small holder farmers may live miles from the nearest road or power line.  Access to steady power, something we take for granted, is a fundamental concern for the rural poor as they seek to charge their phones or study at night.  Recently we’ve been fortunate to work with Mike Lin, an American entrepreneur and founder of the renewable energy company Fenix International. Fenix is a different kind of power company. It doesn’t build grids or power plants, but instead they manufacture a “power hub” that is charged by solar, mains power, or even a bicycle.  The power hub, called a ReadySet™, empowers an individual to become a micro-utilities provider by recharging phones, running lights at night, or even powering electric clippers for the village barber.

The ReadySet™ is particularly useful for our Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) as they have a steady demand for power to charge the smartphones they use to dispense agricultural information to their neighbors.  In the past, we had equipped CKWs with car batteries to use as recharging stations.  These batteries were limited in the amount of recharges they provided and their constant need for maintenance.  The ReadySet™ solves both of these problems – in fact one of our CKWs who tested the ReadySet™ reported he went from charging five phones per week (including his own) to 25 phones per week. At 500 Uganda Shillings per charge, this 5x increase represents a substantial new income stream for him and more dependable provision of his services to farmers for us.

The 15W solar panel charges the ReadySet in approximately 6hrs of full sunlight.

The spirit of empowering entrepreneurship is also reflected in the origins of Fenix Intl and the ReadySet™ unit.  Mike came to us as a volunteer in the early days of Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Uganda when we were predominately working with SMS but had begun to discuss using smartphones.  He was immediately struck by the power problem.

“When we were testing the first Android G1s, we struggled to keep the phones charged”, recalls Mike. “This challenge sparked the idea that an entrepreneur could create a sustainable business by charging phones and providing power to their communities.”

After his volunteer commitment was up he continued to work on the problem, developed prototypes, and returned several times to AppLab Uganda to test his work.  We’re glad that the ReadySet™ is now in production and that we are Fenix Intl’s first commercial customers.  Congrats Mike!

Did a rat eat your cash? You should have used mobile money

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Dr. Olga Morawczynski, Financial Literacy Project Manager & Julius Matovu, Research Assistant

While it is becoming commonly accepted that the poor need better and safer places to save, the story of Muhereza Kabaramagi and her savings struck a particular chord with us.  We met Muhereza while working on Grameen Foundation’s financial literacy pilot project in Uganda..  Muhereza has been a second-hand clothes trader for the past 15 years.  As a small business owner she needs to store cash but lives 30 km from the nearest bank. The trip to and from the bank costs $4, more than what she often makes in a week. So Muhereza decided to save her money in a small handbag at home hidden in a secret place. Recently, Muhereza needed to dip into her savings which had accumulated to about $150.  When she opened her handbag she discovered that rats had shredded her fortune – leaving her with nothing.

The aftermath of the money eating rat

Muhereza’s story is emblematic of the difficulties that many poor people in Uganda have in finding safe places to save their money. According to the, “a study of 1,500 poor people in Uganda showed that 99 percent of respondents failed to reach their savings goals when using informal methods, either because the money was stolen or lost, or because they were too tempted to spend the money when it was stored as cash in their home.”

Along with our colleagues at Grameen Foundation we set out to explore how we could make formal financial services and financial information more accessible and help individuals structure their savings to reinforce good savings behavior.  We based this on the hypothesis that the use of mobile money – a term which encompasses the ability to store and send money electronically using your mobile phone – was an effective way to overcome many of the barriers to savings.  Along the way we learned that using what we call “savings mobilizers” or people who go door to door opening savings accounts was an extremely effective way to increase uptake, users appreciate the convenience of using mobile money to deposit money into their accounts, and the vast majority of users who received SMS savings reminders found them effective as a means to remember to save.

As we take this work forward we will be working to see:

  • Local intermediaries, like our Community Knowledge Workers, used to increase the banked population in rural areas
  • The introduction of appropriate mobile money enabled savings products for the poor and poorest
  • Widespread use of electronic links between the mobile money on a customer’s phone and their bank balance to increase the convenience and use of electronic banking

If you are interested in learning more about our work please read our Financial Literacy Pilot Report.

The CKW Project is Going Strong and Reaching for Higher Ground

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Listening to the farmers we serve and the partners we work with, we have over the first 10 months of the CKW program consistently received feedback in the line of; “this is a great program but can we have more?” For instance; the farmers, often echoed by partners in the field ask for more accurate and actionable information, CKWs ask for better presented and digestible information such that they have an easier time explaining it to farmers while partners ask for a variety of options to reach more farmers. We are glad to reveal that in the next few months, we will be expanding the scope of the CKW program to answer many of these requests.

Growing Stronger in Core Areas

We are happy to note that even as we spread our wings to new areas, we continue to grow in our core areas of operation. With 200 recruited in Kasese and Masindi, our network of Community Knowledge Workers is set to expand to 450 individuals in 9 districts by end of May. The existing network has so far touched 17,312 farming households, serving them with information and advice in 90,283 instances and collecting 7414 mobile surveys. We are also making progress towards sustainability. We are currently collecting data for the World Bank as our first data-only client.

The CKW recruitment team currently in Kasese

Agricultural call center and USSD service

We are working to establish a call center that farmers will be able to call directly with their questions. This service will be vital both as a referral for farmer questions that CKWs may be unable to answer as well as reaching and serving farmers in areas that CKWs don’t already cover. The call center will be staffed by agricultural experts whose own knowledge will be complimented by our considerable and growing database of agricultural content. We are also developing a USSD agricultural information channel that will be available directly to farmers.

Quality control for information

In March, we convened our first sitting of a content Expert Review Board (ERB) in an effort to verify the accuracy of this content as well as collect views on how understandable and actionable it is. Members of the ERB, who include agricultural experts and a mass communication professional, have reviewed, graded and commented on at least 30% of the information we currently avail to farmers. Reviews center around five areas including accuracy, actionability and presentation/how easy it is to understand. Our team is in the process of improving content in regard to the expert feedback. A major recommendation by the expert was that we need visual cues to make the information more digestible. We have engaged a team from INSEAD to help us visualize our information with images and videos, in addition to growing our content volume itself using their techniques in automatically compiling vast amounts of information from internet sources.

Connecting farmers to real opportunities

We have started developing the software for an application that will connect farmers directly to registered bulk buyers. Connecting smallholder farmers to a wider range of markets is a key objective of our partner, WFP’s Purchase for Progress initiative and central to Grameen Foundation’s objective of increasing revenues. The application will allow farmer to advertise their produce and bulk buyers to sign up for alerts for specific kinds and quantities of produce. We are also exploring options of facilitating the actual transactions between the two parties using the same application. At the same time, we are looking into the concerns of smaller/individual farmers who tell us that even the district level markets for which we currently publish prices are out of their reach because of distance and transportation problems.

The CKW network now covers 7 districts in the North, East and South West of Uganda

Value for CKW Partners

In the month of March, CKWs disseminated 15,781 pieces of agricultural information to rural farmers – undoubtedly a big boost to these farmers who tend to have no access to information otherwise. Interesting to note however is that fact that 41% of this information related directly to WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) Initiative. 91% of our current CKWs were recruited in partnership with P4P. This proves that CKWs are not only an information resource to rural farmers but also a powerful vehicle that can drive adoption of techniques promoted and services offered by the agricultural organizations they are recruited from. In this case, CKWs have been familiarized with the P4P initiative through our trainings, collecting baseline data for the program and participating in field activities like visits to the P4P warehouses and post harvest handling trainings. The result is that they have in turn generated interest and demands for P4P opportunities among their fellow farmers. We are exploring partnerships and technology option to collect and disseminate sub-county level market prices through our CKW network.

Integrating with mainstream agricultural extension

It is our goal that the CKW network will become a mainstream extension service available to farmers nationwide. We are therefore delighted about our March agreement with the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to conduct a pilot in integrating CKW technology, network and model into its own services and operations. We will be testing the potential value of this integration in 4 districts over a 5 month period. NAADS is also supporting our efforts to establish the agricultural call center.

In their own words: How does MOTECH Ghana help Ghanaian mothers?

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Jason Hahn, ICTI Business Development Manager, Grameen Foundation

In Jessica’s last post she discussed how MOTECH Ghana helps nurses manage their work and care for patients.  In this post I’d like to explain a bit more about the services MOTECH Ghana offers, through the Mobile Midwife application, to pregnant and new mothers and their family members and then let some of those mothers explain in their own words how this helps them.

What is  Mobile Midwife?

“Mobile Midwife” is a service that enables pregnant women and their families to receive SMS or voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancy each week in their own language. This information is a mixture of:

  • Alerts and reminders for care seeking (e.g., reminders to go for specific treatments, such as prenatal care or a tetanus vaccination)
  • Actionable information and advice to help deal with challenges during pregnancy (e.g., tips for saving money for transportation to deliver at a health facility, what is needed for a birthing kit, nutrition information
  • Educational information, including milestones in fetal development, promotion of good health practices, and songs about breastfeeding

Voice messages are delivered in English or local languages. Two languages of the Upper East Region, Kasem and Nakam, were supported for MOTECH’s first implementation, and two languages of central region, Senya and Fante, will be supported in Awutu Senya. SMS messages are all delivered in English.

Upper East Region_28mar11 102

Theresa calls in to the Mobile Midwife service

What does Mobile Midwife mean to Ghanaian mothers?

To answer this question we recently spoke with Theresa and Faustina, two Ghanaian mothers who have used the Mobile Midwife Service.  According to Theresa: “Before MOTECH we used to go to the health facility and sometimes the nurses were not there or they would be busy.  Now with MOTECH we receive this health information through mobile phones in our homes, which is convenient”.  She continued, “I would like to advise my pregnant friends to go to the hospital to enroll into MOTECH, to listen to the messages and also to practice what is said because it helps a lot.”  She ended by telling us, “I used to be scared about pregnancy but now with the messages I am no longer scared and it has taken away my worries and that we feel ok and then the pregnancy is ok.”

Faustina had this to say about Mobile Midwife, “The messages that touched me most are those that tell me that when I stand up for long I should sit down and when I have back aches I should sit down and rest my back against the wall and raise my legs up.  And then they tell me I should eat good food and I realize that this is helpful. And then another message that is helpful is that when they tell me that when I deliver I should give the first breast mil to my baby because this will help the baby.  Previously the first breast milk was expressed out but now they tell us to give that to the baby.  All this I’ve heard is very helpful and this has touched my heart.”

If you’re interested in learning more about our MOTECH Ghana program please read our report on the lessons learned so far.

““Mobile Midwife” application: This service enables pregnant women and their families to receive SMS or
voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancy each week in their own
language. This information is a mixture of:
 Alerts and reminders for care seeking (e.g., reminders to go for specific treatments, such as
prenatal care or a tetanus vaccination)
 Actionable information and advice to help deal with challenges during pregnancy (e.g., tips for
saving money for transportation to deliver at a health facility, what is needed for a birthing kit,
nutrition information)
 Educational information, including milestones in fetal development, promotion of good health
practices, and songs about breastfeeding
Voice messages are delivered in English or local languages. Two languages of the Upper East Region, Kasem
and Nakam, were supported for MOTECH’s first implementation, and two languages of central region,
Senya and Fante, will be supported in Awutu Senya.  SMS messages are all delivered in English

How does MOTECH make nurses’ lives that much easier?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Jessica Osborn is the Business Development Manager at MOTECH Ghana

A pregnant woman registers for the Mobile Midwife service

MOTECH Ghana is an initiative of Grameen Foundation, Ghana Health Service and Columbia University which aims to use mobile technology to improve the quality of antenatal and postnatal care for Ghanaian women and their families. MOTECH has developed an information service called Mobile Midwife which delivers time-specific voice or text messages to pregnant mothers and their partners and families both before and after birth.  We have also built a simple java-based app that enables nurses in rural Ghanaian health facilities to automate much of their record keeping and reporting, which formerly took 4-6 days per month. This nurses’ application also makes it easier for nurses to identify patients who have missed certain care.

We recently sat down with some of the nurses who use our app and here is what they told us:

A nurse describing how the app has helped with paperwork: “It’s been good because it helps us with our reports. Sometimes our tallying gives us incorrect data. With the phones we know the data that we get at the end of the month is correct. We used to have to pick lots of forms in different places and take them elsewhere, now it’s much easier.”

Our Mobile Midwife service requires pregnant parents to provide a due date and their location when they register for the service.  The service then sends messages to parents when appointments are due or overdue to remind them to visit the health clinic for check-ups.  One nurse told us, “with MOTECH we also get our clients easily because we get messages listing our defaulters. Some of them also come to access services because MOTECH sends them messages telling them to come. We get people coming here telling us that MOTECH has told them to come to the facility.”

Another nurse really appreciated the reinforcement that Mobile Midwife messages provided for his own outreach efforts – “When we see our clients for a child welfare clinic we gather them in a big group to educate them but we don’t have time to do that 1:1. Often these meetings are big and noisy so not everyone picks up what you’ve said. That’s why MOTECH is good because it provides 1:1 information to them along with personalized reminder messages.”

We really appreciate the cooperation we have received from the nurses of the Ghana Health Service in developing, testing and finally deploying MOTECH. The nurses provide critical health care services to remote communities, which is a challenging task. We’re happy to have the opportunity to make their work on behalf of Ghanaians a little easier.