This report reviews the potential of mobile phones to improve governance in the development sector – a field termed “mobile phone for development” or M4D – with a special emphasis on the water, sanitation, and hygiene or WASH sector.
In particular, it focuses on “information interventions”: mobile phone usage for real-time, broad-based data collection and dissemination among and by multiple agents of change. Such information interventions are used not only to resolve immediate, short-term issues, but to facilitate the flow of information necessary for long term planning, monitoring, policy-making, and governance.
The report reviews the aspects of mobile phone solution design that impact the effectiveness of an information intervention.
It reviews ten selected organisations and their mobile phone projects in depth to determine whether there are broad-based lessons to be drawn from their experiences of system development and implementation.
Finally, the report summarises lessons that can be used by implementers of general M4D projects, as well as mWASH projects (author abstract).
Read a Pacific Institute press release about the report.
The report’s publishers, the Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics, are using the findings for their project to build the open-source WASH SMS System. This system, which they are piloting in Indonesia, uses mobile phones and email to develop crowd-sourced map data to improve water and sanitation services for the urban poor.
Hutchings, M.T. et al., 2012. mWASH: mobile phone applications for the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector. Oakland, CA, USA: Pacific Institute and Los Angeles, CA, USA: Nexleaf Analytics. 114 p. : 12 fig., 4 tab. 95 ref. Available at: <http://www.pacinst.org/reports/mwash/full_report.pdf> [Accessed 18 May 2012]