Maternal and Women's Health

Lessons from m-Health Projects: The Tech is the Easy Part

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Mar 08, 2011

Adherence reminders, patient data transmission via community health workers, HIV/AIDs info services – mobile phones can be used in a variety of health settings. As mobiles have become cheaper and more easily available around the world, mobile health projects have followed, taking advantage of the devices’ data storage capabilities, information transferring potential, and social networking features.

MobileActive has covered the m-health area extensively as NGOs, aid organizations, and governments continue to launch new projects incorporating ICTs into their work. Organizations like the Praekelt Foundation, which runs multiple mobile health projects, Pesinet, a micro-insurance and community health worker data collection tool, Dimagi, which developed CommCare (a project that helps community health workers promote healthy behaviors in patients), and MoTeCH, a Grameen Foundation project that uses mobiles to send medical advice to pregnant women and young parents along with creating a data managing resource for community health workers, are exploring the potential that mobile technology offers for delivering health care.

Looking at some of these organizations’ experiences, we put together a list of key lessons organizations are learning as they develop m-health projects:

Women & Mobile - A Global Opportunity: A Study on the Mobile Phone Gender Gap in Low and Middle-income Countries

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Feb 21, 2011
Women & Mobile - A Global Opportunity: A Study on the Mobile Phone Gender Gap in Low and Middle-income Countries data sheet 2171 Views
GSMA Development Fund
Publication Date: 
Jan 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Mobile Phone ownership in low and middle-income countries has skyrocketed in the past several years. But a woman is still 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. This figure increases to 23% if she lives in Africa, and 37% if she lives in South Asia. Closing this gender gap would bring the benefit of mobile phones to an additional 300 million women. By extending the benefits of mobile phone ownership to women, a host of social and economic goals can be advanced.

Mobile phone ownership provides distinct benefits to women, including improved access to educational, health, business and employment opportunities. Women surveyed across low and middle-incoome countries on three continents believe that a mobile phone helps them lead a more secure, connected and productive life.

SMS to 9444: Rural Mobile Health Information in Jordan

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 18, 2011

In Jordan, a new program called SOHITCOM (Social Health and IT for Rural Communities) uses mobile phones and web-based technology to improve access to maternal and early childhood healthcare information.

Developed by the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan in a partnership with Canadian funder IDRC, SOHITCOM is part of a larger program promoting and developing ICT4D in the Middle East. A two-part project, SOHITCOM is both a vaccination adherence service and a health information portal for rural Jordanians.

SMS to 9444: Rural Mobile Health Information in Jordan data sheet 3296 Views
Countries: Jordan


Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Feb 16, 2011

A Guatemalan NGO in Coban, whose goal is to support to Ministry of Health and the National School of Nursing in Coban to improve health services to the rural population, using e-health and m-health.

Organization Type: 
3ra. Calle, 5-18 Zona 3, Interior de la Escuela Nacional de Enfermermería de Cobán.
Atla Verapaz

Research and Reality: Using Mobile Messages to Promote Maternal Health in Rural India

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 13, 2011
Research and Reality: Using Mobile Messages to Promote Maternal Health in Rural India data sheet 1683 Views
Ramachandran, Divya, Vivek Goswami, and John Canny
Publication Date: 
Dec 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Rural health workers in India do not always have the training, credibility or motivation to effectively convince clients to adopt healthy practices. To help build their efficacy, we provided them with messages on mobile phones to present to clients. We present a study which compared three presentations of persuasive health messages by health workers using a phonebased lecture-style message, a phone-based dialogic message that elicits user responses, or no additional aids.

We found that dialogic messages significantly improve the quality of counseling sessions and increase discussion between health workers and clients; however, we did not statistically measure an effect of either phone-based message on health behavioral outcomes. We analyze these results in light of the challenges we faced and compromises we made through the research process due to the interplay of social, cultural and environmental realities, and discuss how these factors affect ICTD projects at large.

How to Work With Operators (Part One)

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jan 09, 2011

Mobile-based projects for social change can be found in any issue area: mobile health, mobile money, initiatives that promote advocacy, citizen journalism, democratic participation, and economic livelihoods. While projects vary in scope, objectives, and platforms, one consistency between many successful projects is a good working relationship with the mobile network operator in a given country.

Mobile network operators, or MNOs, go by many names: mobile providers, cell providers, telecommunications companies. In this article, we focus on MNOs in the traditional sense: companies that provides mobile network services.

How to Work With Operators (Part One) data sheet 5617 Views
Countries: Afghanistan Bangladesh Haiti India Mexico Tanzania Zambia

World AIDS Day: Battling the Disease with Mobile Tech

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Dec 01, 2010

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, a day that is all about raising awareness, countering prejudice, and helping stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. has put together some of the mobile projects and organizations we've covered recently that are innovating with mobile tech in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

RedChatZone: HIV Counseling via Mobile Instant Messaging Chat

This project is an innovative mobile-based platform for youth and young adults to learn more about HIV and to get support by offering them the ability to communicate anonymously and privately via MXit with a trained counselor. 

Mobile Money and Mobile Health 2: Use Cases, Limitations and Ways Forward

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Nov 10, 2010

In this two-part series, explores how mobile money services can support health care in developing countries. In part one, we described the key ways in which mobile money services can be adopted by the health sector.

At the primary level of care, subscription-based mobile payment services can create two-way links between patients and health care providers, as summarized here.

  • Patients can pay service providers directly for health care services delivered.
  • Service providers can use mobile transfer platforms to reward patients with monetary or airtime incentives for treatment compliance.

At the district, regional, and national levels, governments and organizations can improve management of funds and introduce better checks and balances by using mobile money platforms. Some uses include:

Mobile Money For Health: A Two-Part Series

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Nov 08, 2010

Mobile phones are being tried and tested in myriad ways in health care. They are used for data collection and disease surveillance, for ensuring treatment compliance, for managing health information systems and point-of-care support, for health promotion and disease prevention, and for delivering emergency medical services. Clearly, m-health, as this growing field is dubbed, is here to stay.

At the same time, achieving scale and sustainability in most m-health projects has been a challenge. One of the key aspects of beginning to think about ways to integrate m-health into health systems in a sustainable way is to establish financial systems to pay for health services and to ensure financial accountability within programs.

Vodafone Americas Foundation™ announces call for entries for annual Wireless Innovation Project™ and mHealth Alliance Award

Posted by DLPRSF on Oct 22, 2010

The Vodafone Americas Foundation and the mHealth Alliance are announcing a call for entries for the annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project mHealth Alliance Award, a competition to identify and support promising wireless-related technologies to address critical social issues around the globe. Proposals will be accepted from September 27, 2010 through December 15, 2010, with the final winners announced in April 2011.

Vodafone Americas Foundation™ announces call for entries for annual Wireless Innovation Project™ and mHealth Alliance Award data sheet 3756 Views
Global Regions:
Countries: United States

Mobile Phones and Development: An Analysis of IDRC-Supported Projects

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Oct 12, 2010
Mobile Phones and Development: An Analysis of IDRC-Supported Projects data sheet 3186 Views
Ahmed T. Rashid and Laurent Elder
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

In the context of the rapid growth of mobile phone penetration in developing countries, mobile telephony is currently considered to be particularly important for development. Yet, until recently, very little systematic evidence was available that shed light on the developmental impacts of mobile telecommunication. The Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) program of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, has played a critical role in filling some of the research gaps through its partnerships with several key actors in this area.

The objective of this paper is to evaluate the case of mobile phones as a tool in solving development problems drawing from the evidence of IDRC supported projects. IDRC has supported around 20 projects that cut across several themes such as livelihoods, poverty reduction, health, education, the environment and disasters. The projects will be analyzed by theme in order to provide a thematic overview as well as a comparative analysis of the development role of mobile phones. In exploring the evidence from completed projects as well as the foci of new projects, the paper summarizes and critically assesses the key findings and suggests possible avenues for future research.

Mobile Phone Interventions for Reproductive Health (m4RH): Testing the Feasibility of Text Messaging to Improve Family Planning

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Oct 06, 2010
Mobile Phone Interventions for Reproductive Health (m4RH): Testing the Feasibility of Text Messaging to Improve Family Planning data sheet 2485 Views
Kelly L’Engle and Heather Vadhat
Publication Date: 
Jul 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Mobile phones are currently used by millions of people around the world. In Africa, mobile phone ownership and use has dispersed at a surprisingly rapid rate across the continent. Recently, there have been multiple and diverse efforts to exploit mobile technologies for purposes of health communication, including collection of health data and provision of health information. Using mobile phones to provide family planning information, however, is a new area that has received almost no attention from health workers.

Recognizing this as a gap and an opportunity, the Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) project was born. The m4RH project is conceptualized as an automated, text-based system that is compatible with any and every mobile phone to maximize reach and access to family planning information via mobile phone. Since this is a new project and mobile phones are a novel method of delivering family planning information, formative research to obtain feedback on the project was carried out in countries where the m4RH project will be piloted in 2010.

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Banking Bonanza, Worldwide ICT Growth, Native Apps on Smartphones

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 05, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute is focused on mobile money. We've got news about Bharti's financial services in India, Rwanda's new mobile banking guidelines, Digicel's plan for mobile financial services in Haiti, ICT growth from 1998 to 2009, and the popularity of native apps on smartphones. 

  • Digicel, a Caribbean telecom, announced they will launch a mobile banking pilot project in Haiti, starting this October. The pilot will allow users to transfer funds and give and receive cash via mobiles.
  • ICT4Dblog charted how ICTs have grown around the world, ranking mobile, Internet, and broadband growth over an 11-year period. The site then looked at how these numbers show the digital gap between rich and poor countries, and then reported on: "digital lag: the time gap between a given average ICT penetration level in the poorest countries, and the year that was achieved in the richest countries. Current digital lag is just under 10 years for mobile, and something like 14-15 years for Internet. For broadband, it’s just over 10 years but the figures are so low that this may not be meaningful."
[Mobile Minute Disclaimer: The Mobile Minute is a quick round-up of interesting stories that have come across our RSS and Twitter feeds to keep you informed of the rapid pace of innovation. Read them and enjoy them, but know that we have not deeply investigated these news items. For more in-depth information about the ever-growing field of mobile tech for social change, check out our blog posts, white papers and research, how-tos, and case studies.]

Image courtesy Flickr user QiFei


Family Planning through the Mobile Phone, No Doctor Necessary!

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Oct 02, 2010
Family Planning through the Mobile Phone, No Doctor Necessary! data sheet 4450 Views

The Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University, has pioneered a new way to inform women of their fertility status using mobiles.  IRH conducted proof of concept testing in India for an SMS-based delivery of the Standard Days Method (SDM) as an information based, low-cost and non-hormonal method of family planning.

SDM is a scientifically tested fertility awareness-based method that is recommended by WHO as a modern, natural family planning method. From the first day of menses, in a 26-32 day cycle, a woman’s most likely fertile days are from days 8 to 19. Avoiding intercourse during these days of the cycle has been tested to show up to 95% effectiveness against pregnancy.

Because of the high use of traditional methods for family planning, and the ubiquity of mobile phones, IRH thought of developing an innovative mobile platform for reproductive health called CycleTel™. Currently in pilot phase, women can subscribe to the service via SMS on the first day of the menses, after which, a text message is sent to her mobile indicating her fertility status as per the 8-19 day fertile window.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

To offer the Standard Day Method, a non-hormonal, periodic abstinence, information-based method of family planning, through the mobile phone as an SMS service. The aim of the project was to transform an existing fertility awareness tool, called the CycleBeads®, to a mobile phone version.

Brief description of the project: 

Because of the high use of traditional methods for family planning, and the ubiquity of mobile phones, IRH thought of developing an innovative mobile platform for reproductive health called CycleTel™. Currently in pilot phase, women can subscribe to the service via SMS on the first day of the menses, after which, a text message is sent to her mobile indicating her fertility status as per the 8-19 day fertile window.

Target audience: 

Women in developing countries, who are interested in using a traditional method of family planning that is non-hormonal, periodic abstinence and information-based. Or women seeking to try other birth control methods than the pill, IUD or condom. Or, women currently using the CycleBeads® tool for family planning, but would like switch to a mobile phone-based tool.

Due to literacy barriers observed in the proof of concept testing, the target audience may shift focus to middle and high income women, who have higher educational background.

Detailed Information
Mobile Tools Used: 
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 
  • While the SMS alerts were targetted to women, many male partners showed interest in also receiving the information to their phones. 
  • Messages sent in "Hinglish" were best understood.
  • Men and women, who participated in Cycletel pilot test, were willing to pay for the service. In the focus group discussions, women suggested 20-25 rupees, men suggested 15 rupees and couples suggested 30-35 rupees as reasonable monthly price for CycleTel.
  • Prior to the pilot test, a large investment was made to involve potential users of the service to give input in the design of the service and composing of text message alerts.
What did not work? What were the challenges?: 
  • A text message for the helpline number was sent later during the trial, and users preferred it to be sent earlier.
  • Women preferred responding to yes or no questions rather than entering key words like “red”, “date” or “agree”.
  • Women preferred that messages were limited to 1 SMS, instead of being broken into 2 SMSs.
  • Greetings, like “great”, “thank you”, confused participants and women did not know whether to answer or not. Often they thought they had to respond to every message they received.
  • After the pilot testing, there were several non-users. IRH learned that often their womens’ mobiles were switched off.
  • There was incompatibility between the major mobile network operators Vodafone, Reliance and Airtel that impeded their use of the CycleTel service.
  • Though initially, SMS messaging was thought to be a common practice, IRH learned quickly that many women who own a mobile phone were not in fact in the habit of actually writing and sending SMSs. Instead, women more commonly were accustomed to forwarding SMS.

Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Oct 01, 2010

Founded in 1985, Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) has contributed to a range of health initiatives and is dedicated to helping women and men make informed choices about their reproductive health. In particular, our work focuses on:- Developing, testing and implementing simple and effective fertility awareness-based methods (FAM) of family planning, including the Standard Days Method®, TwoDay Method® and Lactational Amenorrhea Method, - Fostering fertility awareness among young adolescents (ages 10 to 14) in the context of self-worth and respect for others,- Reducing stigma and discrimination to improve HIV prevention and care.

Organization Type: 
4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 310
United States
Postal code: 

Sana Mobile: Connecting Big-City Care to Patients in Remote Villages

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Sep 17, 2010
Sana Mobile: Connecting Big-City Care to Patients in Remote Villages data sheet 6107 Views

Decision making support for nurses and health workers, even when connectivity is poor or low, is possible with Sana Mobile, an Android-based mobile health application. Formerly known as Moca Mobile, the Sana technology facilitates remote consultations between health care specialists and community health workers in remote areas.

Sana Mobile started at MIT's NextLab, where developers, faculty and students collaborate to tackle a problem using mobile technology. The Sana technology was developed by Sidhant Jena, Sana team lead and Harvard Business School student and Russell Ryan, lead engineer and MIT student.

When general practitioners lack the expertise to diagnose a case, they refer patients to specialists, who may not be easily accessible. The Sana technology addresses the lack of accessibility to specialty care in places, where specialist doctors and tertiary care centers are sparse.

How does Sana Mobile work?

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

One of the largest problems facing the developing world is a lack of trained physicians. While there is not a shortage of untrained or semi-trained workforce, many health workers in many developing nations are not able to dispense adequate care due to a lack of expertise.

The Sana technology seeks to address the lack of accessibility to specialty care in places, where specialist doctors and tertiary care centers are sparse.

Brief description of the project: 

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers in India. It is related to the cultural practice of chewing paan masala and gutka, forms of chewing tobacco. It is estimated that about 40% of men and 15% of women chew tobacco on a regular basis. Detecting risk of oral cancer earlier is important for affordable treatment as late stage tumors can be very expensive to treat. To survey the risk of oral cancer in their community, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Center and the Narayana Hrudayalaya Health to ran a pilot test in and around Bangalore over six months. One pilot was run in Belgaum, Raichur, a rural town about 12 hours away from the city of Bangalore. The other pilot was run in Bangalore. Equipped with the Sana application, ASHAs (community health workers) went door to door in and around Bangalore, asking questions and taking pictures of oral lesions, which were evaluated by oral surgeons. In six months, they were able to screen about 400 high-risk cancer patients and detected numerous lesions using Sana. Twenty ASHAs were trained in using the Sana software in Belgaum.

Target audience: 

For this pilot, risk of oral cancer was assessed for men and women chewing tobacco. But the Sana application is also being used to do a large scale risk assessment for cardiovascular disease, to screen maternal complications (e.g. preclampsia) and assess nutritional status of children.

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 
  • Sana invested in building local developer capacity in India. Local developers cost less than having an international technology consultant to conduct training.
  • Lots of enthusiasm from leaders at the Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital
  • Funding for Sana developers at MIT to travel to India to test and train users came from external support, not from program budget of the clients.
What did not work? What were the challenges?: 
  • Semi- to low-literacy amongst community health workers can be a challenge if an application is available in limited languages. CHWs in Belgaum did not speak Kannada (the local script) or English. Developers adapted Sana to replace text in the medical procedures with voice prompts and pictorial labels
  • Health workers/nurses were not familiar with the touchscreen and needed some additional training and practice in order to understand how to use it (i.e. using fingerpad or fingernail to enter data)
  • Cost of phone was a major limiting factor
  • Some resistance faced from physicians, who were not quick to adopt a technology-based work flow management tool
  • The Sana Team is a volunteer based organization, and it is difficult for the team of developers to contribute time resources, but they consistently offer feedback to Sana users on their google group.

Sana Mobile

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Sep 16, 2010

Sana, is a student organization based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (NextLab, Center for Transpotation and Logistics, Engineering Systems Division) that offers an end-to-end system that seamlessly connects health workers to medical professionals. In addition, the group assists its partner organization with implementation through collaborative innovation. The team consists of volunteers with diverse background – medicine, computer science, clinical informatics, health policy, social sciences, and business and operations management. It strongly believes that there is a need to bring together experts from various disciplines in order to design an operating system around the delivery of care that is facilitated by mobile technology. The technology is crucial, but not the sole component of the solution. It is the centerpiece of a learning system that is designed not only to improve clinical outcomes, but the health delivery process itself.

Organization Type: 
United States

The Mobile Minute: How U.S. Adults Use Mobiles, Social Networking Via SMS in Nigeria, and a Dual GSM/CDMA Mobile

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 10, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on using SMS to access social networks in Nigeria, Organizing for America's new iPhone app that aids political canvassers, HTC's development of a dual GSM and CDMA phone, a pilot project that uses SMS to send information to pregnant women in Peru, and a Pew Research Center report on U.S. adults' mobile phone usage habits.

The Mobile Minute: Opera's State of the Mobile Web, California's Mobile Alert System, and Installing a Mobile Analytics Service

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 01, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you news on the state of the mobile web, California's plan to be the first state with a mass mobile alert system, Cisco's (rumored) move to buy Skype, a guide to installing PercentMobile on different platforms, and results from a study on the effects of SMS reminders for taking birth control pills. 

No to Fake Drugs: Battling Pharma Counterfeiting With SMS And Mobile Tech

Posted by PenelopeChester on Aug 24, 2010

Femi Soremekun, managing director of Nigeria-based Biofem Pharmaceuticals, is all too familiar with the fight against counterfeit drugs. In late 2008, a distributor notified him that he suspected that one of Biofem’s products, Glucophage, was being counterfeited. After checking batch and inventory numbers, Soremekun reassured him there was no evidence of such activity. It was only after more allegations surfaced that he sent a sample to French manufacturer Merck & Co. to be analyzed. Turns out the claims were correct. “I was very shocked,” Soremekun says. “[The counterfeiters] got into my market, counterfeited my product, and I wasn’t even aware of it. I was losing sales.”

It was around this time that Soremekun learned about Sproxil, a start-up company that is part of a consortium that includes Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry association and the country’s regulating agency. The group explores technology-based strategies to tackle drug counterfeiting. On the sidelines of the consortium, Biofem and Sproxil discussed implementing a drug-certification process in order to restore Biofem customers’ confidence in Glucophage. Following a successful five-month trial in Nigeria involving about one million units of Biofem’s product, the company has seen sales pick up again. “We ended up being called the guinea pig,” Soremekun jokes.

Barriers and Gaps Affecting mHealth in Low and Middle Income Countries: Policy White Paper

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 20, 2010
Barriers and Gaps Affecting mHealth in Low and Middle Income Countries: Policy White Paper data sheet 2299 Views
Mechael, P., Batavia, H., Kaonga, N., Searle, S., Kwan, A., Goldberger, A., Fu, L., Ossman, J.
Publication Date: 
May 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This White Paper, written by a team of researchers at the Center for Global Health and Economic Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, examines and synthesizes the existing mHealth literature to assess the current state of mHealth knowledge, evaluate the impact of mHealth implementations in LMICs and to examine programming, policy and research-related barriers to and gaps in mHealth scale and sustainability.

The paper is divided into two main sections. The first section reviews and summarizes the peer-reviewed literature on mHealth initiatives (focus on LMICS) to highlight trends and challenges. The second section examines the existing mHealth policy environment, barriers and gaps, and key drivers needed for an enabling policy environment.

The major thematic areas include:

  • Treatment Compliance
  • Data Collection and Disease Surveillance
  • Health Information Systems and Point of Care Support
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Emergency Medical Response

The review identified significant gaps in mHealth knowledge stemming from the limited scale and scope of mHealth implementation and evaluation, a policy environment that does not link health objectives and related metrics to available mHealth tools and systems, and little investment in cost-benefit studies to assess mHealth value and health outcomes research to assess success factors and weed out poor investments.




The Mobile Minute: Mobile Maternal Health Insurance, M-PESA in Users' Own Words, Environmental Mobile Sensing

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 17, 2010

The Mobile Minute is back with a video explaining the M-PESA mobile money service, news about maternal health insurance via mobiles, an app that helps users determine if a hybrid or plug-in car will be useful to their lives, a report on why you might want to turn off the geo-tagging system on your mobile, and FailFaire in The New York Times. 

Family Planning via Mobile Phones: Proof-of-Concept Testing in India (CycleTel)

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 13, 2010
Family Planning via Mobile Phones: Proof-of-Concept Testing in India (CycleTel) data sheet 2759 Views
Katherine Sarah Lavoie, Victoria H. Jennings, Meredith Puleio, Priya Jha, Rebecka Lundgren
Publication Date: 
Nov 2009
Publication Type: 

Results of proof-of-concept testing for an mHealth solution for reproductive health in Uttar Pradesh, India. The text messaging tool based on FrontlineSMS, is a family planning service that relies on the Standard Day Method system of birth control. This method of birth control depends on the woman's fertility cycles to avoid pregnancy. Women can text the date of their menses and user receives their fertility status. Additionally, women can receive information about other family planning options, and support. Presented are observations on the appropriatenss of the technology from focus group discussions. The authors share the input given by target users in the product and service design. Women tested the solution to give insight on feasibility and design.

Mobile Activism or Mobile Hype?

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 09, 2010
Mobile Activism or Mobile Hype? data sheet 2348 Views
Firoze Manji
Publication Date: 
Jan 2008
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Based on two experiences using mobile phones in Africa to address women’s rights and social development, the author tries to understand whether mobile technology will bring social progress to the economically poor of Africa.

The author first examines mobile phone use in the campaign for the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, adopted by the African Union (AU)in 2003 and in need of ratification by 15 countries. The technical barriers to message transmission in the campaign and the message spamming that it attracted inhibited the success of this particular application of mobile technology but did not reduce the campaign effectiveness because the uniqueness of the cell phone campaign strategy drew a large amount of publicity for ratification.

In the second example, the UmNyango Project intended to promote and protect the rights of rural women in the province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa, from domestic violence against women and landlessness amongst women. The project created "an SMS gateway through which messages could be distributed to all those enrolled in the project, and it enabled every individual to send messages to the organisers and to the local paralegal officers where they needed assistance with regard to any incidence of violence or threat to their access to land....In practice, the project found SMS to be prohibitively expensive, despite the fact that some level of subsidy was provided by the project towards the cost of SMS." The author states that, "Mobile phones, after all the hype, are like pencils, tools for communication.... Like all technologies, tools do not themselves do anything." He uses the example of SMS hate mail messages to support the position that effects of technology result from the underlying values and morals of its developers, not from the tools themselves, and concludes: "In capitalist societies, all technologies have the potential for magnifying and amplifying social differentiation. It is only through the imposition of the democratic will of citizens can this inherent tendency of technologies be overcome."

How to RapidSMS

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jul 23, 2010
How to RapidSMS data sheet 7439 Views

A how-to guide on using and implementing RapidSMS for mobile data collection and communication.

Ths manual give an overview for how to implement and use RapidSMS in a mobile data collection project. RapidSMS is a SMS framework for data collection, group coordination, and complex SMS workflows.  The tutorial outlines when and when not to use RapidSMS, guides the user through project steps and milestones, outlines factors for a successful implementation, and provides worksheets for project planning. Example training materials are included.

More documentation and developers guides can be found here on the RapidSMS site.

Mobile Tools: