FFS e-M&E is a Mobile-based data collection and management system for effective monitoring and evaluation of farmer field schools. The system is working since April 2017 under Building Disaster Resilience in Pakistan (BDRP) program
- To collect primary data for the monitoring of farmer field schools running at remote locations with higher efficiency and cost-effectiveness
- To serve as data repository for the evaluations of FFS program
- To provide management with a simplified dashboard to visualize the spatial spread of FFS and field team performance.
ICTs or innovative digital solutions used:
Mobile-based data collection and management system has been developed and implemented for FFS/ Women Open Schools by FAO to ensure seamlessly and near real-time data collection of project interventions. The technical architecture of the system is based on the Open Data Kit (ODK) initiative. ODK is an open-source suite of tools initially developed at the University of Washington with the financial assistance of Google.
The system consists of two main components; i) mobile based component to work on any android device and ii) the server-side component to receive, store and manage data of various data types.
Figure 1. Stages of mobile based data collection and management system. Source: (Hussnain, 2013)
The mobile based component using ODK Collect application which is installed on the android phones of FFS facilitators. The data collection forms / activity reporting formats (ARFs) added to the mobile devices in the form of JavaRosa compliant XML format. On the other hand, server side consists of ODK Aggregate which uses PostgreSQL as backend database. A few glimpses of the system are shown below:
Some screenshots of mobile component; it allows field teams to capture all variety of data including text, numeric, dates, images and geo-location without the use of any secondary tool
Screenshots of the serverside component; it gives the ability to generate charts and graphs of the collected data, view reports on map or export data to MS Excel for any deeper analysis
Since the overall system is based on open source tools and all development and configurations have been done with in-house technical capacities, no costs have been paid in terms of system development, team training and system maintenance. Initially the system was hosted on Google provided app engine. However, later on it has been shifted to a self-managed independent server.
The system is being used within the project team. Currently 17 team members of BDRP from 4 geographically distant places are benefiting the system. 12 of them are field facilitators (4 women and 8 men) who feeds the data from field while the other 5 specialist members (1 women and 4 men) used the data for routine monitoring or reporting purpose.
The field facilitators have been facing the issue to effective data collection and management where they have to handle paperbased reports, maintain participants attendance and learning record, capture pictures and document the proceeding of the FFS session for their learning. This required the use of paperbased data books and camera to capture session information which was then transferred to a report on computers. It used to take considerable off-field time of the facilitators and still challenges of mismatch of sessions details and pictorial evidences existed.
Through the mobile application, they can capture all the important details (required as per project performance measurement framework (PMF)) in one place and send to the office without any further delays. Furthermore, they can mark if any particular community or school required management attention due to any reasons (case study identification, pest attack, complicated agriculture situation where opinion from expert is required)
On management side, team wanted to ensure the presence of the team in field and wanted to standardize the session content and capture the procedure. With the facility of geo-tagging, they are able to see where sessions are being conducted and through systematic capturing of pictures, they can understand the process, see snapshots below.
Facilitators needs to capture 3 pictures from daily sessions i) picture of the class session, ii) picture of the field work and iii) picture of the charts prepared to record the daily finding. These are captured in mobile device along with location and date-time stamp and appear on server as one record as shown in above pictures.
Currently, the system works for a one-way-workflow process. In the Phase II of the BDRP project (starting from Oct 2018), the system will be updated to work on two-way-workflow modality where it will be used to convey back information to facilitators and messages to the participant farmers about various topics of interest.
 Anokwa, Y., Hartung, C., Brunette, W., Borriello, G., & Lerer, A. (2009). Open source data collection in the developing world. Computer, 42(10).
 Hartung, C., Lerer, A., Anokwa, Y., Tseng, C., Brunette, W., & Borriello, G. (2010, December). Open data kit: tools to build information services for developing regions. In Proceedings of the 4th ACM/IEEE international conference on information and communication technologies and development (p. 18). ACM.
 Hussnain, M. Q. (2013). A Study on the Utilization of Information and Communication Technology in Preparation and Implementation of Development Plans: a Case Study of Rawalpindi. University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Lahore.
 The system has been developed to complement the overall monitoring and evaluation framework of the project which seeks to capture the widely spreaded field interventions by means of activity reporting formats (ARF). The ARFs contains a set of variable to be collected to at the time of field activity in the form of locational information, beneficiary information, intervention details, and graphic evidence. Currently the system contains three ARFs (1. FFS/ WOS Formation Report, 2. FFS Facilitator Daily Report, 3. CSA Site Report