Online Program

Using mobile technology to streamline food aid in Liberia

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ariella Bock, John Snow, Inc., Arlington, VA
Job Milapo, ACDI/VOCA, Monrovia, Liberia
Mary A. Carnell, MD MPH, Center for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, John Snow Inc., Arlington, VA
Success of food aid programs ultimately depends on the programs' ability to reach targets in a timely manner. The USAID-Food For Peace-funded LAUNCH project, initiated in June 2010, aims to reduce food insecurity and chronic malnutrition by distributing food to pregnant and lactating women and children under two in the rural Bong and Nimba counties of Liberia. LAUNCH has implemented a rigorous food distribution system to deliver rations within six weeks of registration, including a registration component to ensure beneficiaries meet project criteria.

The initial paper-based registration process faced a series of challenges including lost forms, slow data entry, and poor supervision. In April 2012, LAUNCH implemented a mobile-based system for field staff to collect beneficiary registration information on mobile phones and transmit the data to a cloud-based system through the local mobile network.

An analysis of 5,250 beneficiaries registered through paper and receiving their first rations from November 2011 to April 2012, found that only 21 percent received the rations within the desired time-frame and average wait-time was 14 weeks. Of the 3,750 beneficiaries registered by mobile phone in the first five months of implementation, 81 percent received their ration within six weeks of registration, with an average wait-time of 4.7 weeks.

The mobile-based registration dramatically decreased beneficiary wait-time and has improved overall efficiency of food distribution, increasing opportunities for targeted beneficiaries to receive food and enabling LAUNCH to better prevent malnutrition. Similar food distribution programs can adapt this model to efficiently deliver essential food rations.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Program planning
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe challenges within global food aid programs and approaches for overcoming them Demonstrate how mobile technology can help streamline a food distribution system Identify ways for incorporating mobile technology into other programs

Keyword(s): Maternal and Child Health, Food Security

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered