Thursday, July 22, 2010

RapidSuivi, Tostan’s Future Real-Time Monitoring System

Tostan’s collaboration with UNICEF provides a unique opportunity for Tostan to improve the monitoring and evaluation capabilities of its Community Empowerment Program (CEP). By adopting UNICEF’s RapidSMS technology, Tostan aims to design a platform for real-time monitoring in combination with geographical analysis that will facilitate strategic decision-making regarding how to employ resources, work with communities, and track impact.

The purpose of RapidSuivi is to address certain issues that can hinder adequate monitoring and evaluation of Tostan’s CEP. The CEP lasts for 30 months, consisting of in-the-field learning, community organization, and outreach and grassroots advocacy, and contributes to the overall development of participants as they engage with their community in designing, carrying out, and sustaining community-led activities.

"How It Works" - Tostan 2010

Challenges that Tostan faces in monitoring activities include inadequate follow-up and capitalization on the success of field operations. The lag in receiving data in Tostan’s main offices hampers timely data analysis and digestion.  Simply put, community-led activities can be spontaneous and Tostan representatives cannot be present at every event or report on all of them. The implementation of RapidSuivi would address this issue by providing up-to-the-minute data to be reviewed and analyzed by Tostan’s Monitoring, Evaluation, Research & Learning (MERL) Department. Naturally, it is in Tostan’s best interest to identify where programs are achieving results and to continue to allocate support to those villages. RapidSuivi will provide the MERL department with the most recent data, helping Tostan to identify areas where results have been achieved and where progress is still needed.

Another issue the real-time platform will address is the demand for increased CEP supervision by Tostan. The real-time monitoring system will provide Tostan with the unique ability to view current data and information sent from the villages where it has programs. This provision of real-time data will further help Tostan in analyzing the effectiveness of its programs as well as identifying areas where a program may be lagging, and thus requiring more assistance or oversight from Tostan headquarters.

While achieving better efficiency in analyzing and organizing data will help increase Tostan’s supervisorial abilities, another main benefit of the real-time system will be the establishment of a database of up-to-the-minute information that will allow Tostan to create a more effective system of support for its village programs. As stated, there are many benefits to having instant access to the most recent data. The creation of the real-time database will assist in the objectives of monitoring and evaluating Tostan projects. It will also help to identify areas where Tostan’s programs have been successful and thus require further assistance in continuing program activities or where the programs have been ineffective and more oversight may be required.

Benjamin Bryan, 
Project Assistant MERL Dpt


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