Concern Universal uses BetterData to manage social accountability programme

Concern Universal looks for help to document and systematise it's innovative MuniSAM programme

Concern Universal is an international development organization tackling poverty from the grassroots established in 1976. In Mozambique, Concern Universal has implemented its work since 1996 in the areas of development and humanitarian assistance.

In 2012 Concern Universal began implementing the MuniSAM programme.  This focuses on mobilising SAMcoms (Social Accountability Monitoring Committees), citizen groups recruited from different neighbourhoods in a municipality.  MuniSAM provides training and support to SAMcoms (through the “learning by doing” approach) to carry out a social audit of the annual municipal plans and budgets as compared to the annual municipal reports/expenditures, identify critical issues backed by evidence collected in the field and produce a report with findings.  The findings from the report are presented at a 'Public Hearing', which engages Municipal managers and the broader public to agree on joint solutions to these problems.

While the programme was running well, Concern Universal lacked a system to accurately track and measure the work of the programme.  The team was using notebooks and spreadsheets to record activities, outputs and outcomes, leading to excessive time needed to summarise data and consolidate donor reports from multiple sources. This process was unwieldy and allowed too much room for error.  As the programme grew in scope it also opened up potential for different teams to implement the methodology in different ways.

Solution:

Kwantu worked with Concern-Universal to address these challenges in two phases.

(1) Documenting programme processes:

Kwantu led a two-day workshop with the MuniSAM team to document the programme in detail.  This included:

  • A breakdown of each step followed in implementing the programme activities with a Municipality
  • Clarifying roles, responsibilities and activities for each step
  • Documenting nine separate forms needed to collect data more systematically
  • Ensuring programme indicator data can be measured from data collected via the forms
  • Defining taxonomies to cross-reference data and assist with analysis

The output from this work was a detailed process manual that provided clarity on the MuniSAM programme procedures.

(2) Implementing a mobile and web-based programme management system:

Kwantu configured the BetterData platform to match the requirements documented in the process manual.

  • This included each of the forms needed to collect data, workflow to guide field staff through the process and reports to analyse and export aggregated programme data
  • Forms include validations and closed responses to avoid data quality issues
  • The system is accessible through a web browser.
  • An Android app with offline mode will be available in November 2015 to facilitate field level data collection

Benefits:

Working with Kwantu enabled Concern-Universal to:

  • Eliminate paper forms and Excel spread sheets - With BetterData, all management and monitoring data are submitted, tracked and measured through the programme management app.
  • Provide real-time reports - BetterData provides both Concern-Universal and its donors with real-time reporting information. The most current status of activities, indicator data and implementation status of each municipality can be viewed at any time.
  • Eliminate multiple disparate systems -  Since BetterData focuses on the MuniSAM implementation process, it incorporates all data needed to manage and monitor the programme.  BetterData's modular approach makes it easy for Concern-Universal to incorporate changes or even new programmes as their work grows.
  • Create implementation and operational standards for MuniSAM implementation -  Municipal level teams can work seamlessly with each other because tools are standardised and configured across all locations
  • Configuration tools lower costs - BetterData could be fully configured to implement the data collection forms, workflow and reports needed by the MuniSAM programme.  This avoided the need for expensive software development, which translated into lower costs and faster implementation.