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Collecting data in rural areas for early warning of humanitarian crises

Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger) is a global humanitarian organization working to end world hunger.

ACF uses Telerivet to collect data about the pastoral situation in rural villages across western Africa. Using Telerivet, ACF sends weekly SMS surveys of approximately 20 questions to over 100 field data collectors in 4 countries – Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. Each survey asks the field data collectors to report information on the pastoral situation in their local village, including the availability of water, biomass, health of animals, the security context, and the presence of fire.

To allow the field data collectors to send SMS messages to a local phone number, ACF runs the Telerivet Gateway app on an Android phone in each country. The Telerivet Gateway app allows ACF to quickly and affordably deploy SMS surveys in any country, without the expense or delays involved in obtaining a SMS shortcode.

Using SMS surveys for data collection allows ACF to collect data from people living in remote areas, even if the field data collectors don't have a smartphone or an internet connection. In this situation, SMS surveys were more practical than using data collection apps designed for smartphones or tablets.

With the data collected by the weekly SMS surveys, ACF publishes bulletins every two months to inform states, NGOs, and civil society on the pastoral situation in these countries, with the aim of improving the response in case of a food and nutrition crisis.