New design to evaluate mobile phone technology in tackling undernutrition

8 August 2014

A new study by the Institute of Development Studies, World Vision Indonesia and World Vision Canada calls for the need to properly assess the impact of using mobile phone technology to address undernutrition.

Impact of mobile phone technology

The use of mobile phone technology can offer innovative opportunities to tackle persistently high levels of child undernutrition. However, despite high enthusiasm about the use of this technology for nutrition service delivery, the recent review found only very few studies that critically assessed their success beyond implementation in addressing undernutrition. Furthermore, most existing studies were based on small one-off pilot projects with no integration into national nutrition strategies.

New design evaluates the integration of mobile phones into Indonesia's nutrition service delivery system

'Designing a Mixed-Method Impact Evaluation for a Mobile Phone Application for Nutrition Service Delivery in Indonesia' outlines a design to evaluate a scheme to introduce a mobile phone application for nutrition service delivery, including community-based growth monitoring and nutrition counselling in Indonesia. This is the first of its kind.

As child undernutrition remains one of the most devastating realities in many parts of the world, there is an urgent need to develop tools and mechanisms to respond to this challenge. While the use of mobile phone technology in developing countries to provide ‘real time’ data can enable rapid responses to nutrition crises and inform effective decision-making, data is often not used effectively and to its full potential past implementation. There is also very little evidence to show what happens to mobile phone-based programmes after their initial introduction.

Assessing the implementation of mobile phone technology is imperative to its sustainability

At the core of the design is the need to assess the impact of the technology on quality and timeliness of data collection, responsiveness to the data and quality of nutrition counselling. Amongst others, one of the key objectives is also to understand the context within which the application brings about desired improvements and why. Following that, it will be able inform the development of the programme and roll out the application in other parts of Indonesia and globally.

Persuading Government and other stakeholders to use ‘timely’ evidence from mobile phone data

In future, the report envisages that a successful application of mobile phone usage will be able to deliver credible and timely evidence to those who need it most. The authors hope that key influencers and decision makers will not only trust and increase their use of mobile technology, but ultimately use it to reliably inform their decision making.