Some 85 percent of the world population has access to Internet nowadays. An increasing number of users venture online with a mobile device – smartphone or tablet – rather than with a PC. About 25 percent of the world population uses social media, while three-quarters of the online population uses one or more social networking sites. Around the world, there are some 1.28 billion Facebook users, with 540 million on YouTube, 187 million on LinkedIn, and 255 million on Twitter. (Source: Brief History of Social Media)

The unprecedented pace of technological advance over the past years, gave millions of people around the world the opportunity to use internet, social media platforms and mobile phones not just to consume information but also to produce it. The increasing sense of empowerment that social media lends its users, regardless of where and who they are, has led to a number of “social media revolutions” credited with toppling governments and totalitarian regimes around the world.

The Arab Spring is often heralded as one of history’s biggest social media victories. This wave of protests began in December 2010 and proceeded through 2011 as rulers were forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, and protests broke out in other countries in the region, including in Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Iraq and Jordan, to name just a few. While there was no cohesive campaign or strategy at grassroots level, social media played a crucial role during this time, allowing individuals to organise themselves, communicate and voice their complaints publicly. Many contributed to the virtual protests as well as the physical ones through the use of social media. Combined, these efforts caused governments to take notice.

The Internet and new technologies are increasingly influencing not only the way people respond to and recover from conflicts, but also the way they further engage in conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Part of creating communities that can advance peacebuilding is harnessing the power of technology to bring people together, promote conflict management and resolution, and create the public will to change attitudes and behaviours.


New tools for monitoring violence, sustaining dialogue during peace processes, and localising peacebuilding efforts have emerged in recent years as access to mobile phones and internet has increased worldwide. The outreach of these tools goes well beyond the conflict resolution expert circle, enabling people around the globe to share first-hand witness reports of violence, social unrest, human rights infringements, election fraud, political instability, etc. and become agents of change within their own communities. This collaborative approach is known as ‘crowdsourcing’ (i.e. crowd + outsourcing).

In early 2008, in the midst of post-election violence, Kenyans have for the first time used the Ushahidi open-source platform (Ushahidi is the Swahili term for ‘witness’ or ‘testimony’) to collect, visualise and interactively map eyewitness accounts of violence incidents (which would have otherwise remained largely unreported by media, government or police).

Ushahidi Kenya

The Syria Tracker Crisis Map is another impressive crowdsourcing effort launched shortly after the protests began, in April 2011, to collect citizen reports on human rights violations and casualties. Combining automated data mining and crowdsourced human intelligence, the Syria Tracker provides a continually updated list of eyewitness reports from within Syria, often accompanied by media links; aggregate reports including analysis and visualisations of deaths and atrocities in Syria; as well as a stream of content-filtered media from news, social media (Twitter and Facebook) and official sources. This approach could provide a powerful means to assess the human cost of war in Syria.

Syria Tracker Crisis

CrisisNET is another tool which harnesses ‘big data’ coming from social media to map violence. Their Syria mapping is as accurate as the one BBC did with reporters on the ground.


There are several ways in which today’s social media can be leveraged to prevent and manage conflict. Early warning is critical for early response. Permanent conflict monitoring for real-time awareness can help inform appropriate and timely interventions. Likewise, social media can provide real-time feedback on what works and what doesn’t, thus serving as a complementary channel of information for impact evaluation. Finally, as the Arab Spring mobilisation has clearly shown, social media can facilitate self-organisation for early response. Needless to say, the capacity to self-organise also renders conflict prevention networks more resilient. In other words, social media can be used to power civil resistance in nonviolent movements that seek to end oppression and bloodshed. As one Egyptian activist reported during the revolution, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” Social media can be similarly leveraged to facilitate a resilient people-centered approach to conflict prevention.

Twitter and social activism

This post originally appeared on Pax Christi International.

About Ramona Kundt

Ramona Kundt

Ramona Kundt is a Brussels-based communications professional working with Pax Christi International, a network of peacebuilding NGOs. Her work is focused on advocacy, campaigning and communications coordination on issues pertaining human rights, human security, disarmament, religion and violent conflict. An alumna of TechChange online courses in Social Media for Social Change and Technology for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, she is particularly interested in how social media can influence the way people respond to conflicts, and engage in conflict transformation and peacebuilding, for a lasting positive social change. She has volunteered with various humanitarian and development projects in Africa, most recently in the Maai Mahiu Internally Displaced Persons Camp, in Kenya.


My current focus on tourism development led me to explore how some of the tech tools discussed in the Mobiles for International Development class can be applied in the tourism industry. In particular, a large part of the tourism assessment and development process involves both evaluating the visitor experience in a destination and examining the attitudes of local residents towards tourism development.

Surveys are the most common tools for carrying out these evaluations, but most of the time they result in stacks of papers that need to be keyed into a computer, introducing errors and wasting valuable time. In the M4D class, we saw a physical example of this where a pickup truck was loaded with stacks of questionnaires.

Today, mobiles and tablets are overcoming the challenges faced by paper-based surveys and evaluations as they bring efficiency, a variety of user-friendly survey platforms, and real-time feedback.

1. Quick and easy access to better processed surveys
Compared with paper questionnaires, a more efficient data collection method would be to use the Formhub tool that we learned about during the course. The additional cost of purchasing a few basic tablets and rugged cases could be offset by savings in labor costs for data entry and the added value of the data being processed in a more timely and accurate manner.

2. Variety of user-friendly survey platforms
The advantage of a tablet over a smartphone is that the tablet more closely resembles a paper format questionnaire, making it easy to hand over to visitors or residents to complete. Formhub can also be used offline; completed questionnaires can be uploaded once a connection is reestablished, making it particularly useful in remote tourism destinations lacking wifi or cell service.

Since visitor surveys are usually carried out in places where large numbers of tourists congregate (city plazas, transportation system waiting areas, etc.), the survey-takers often hand out paper forms to many people simultaneously, presenting a potential disadvantage for Formhub if only a few tablets are available. A potential solution could be a QR code to scan that takes tourists to a web site on their own personal smartphones to complete the questionnaire. This method could be used in conjunction with the tablets (i.e. tablets could be used for those visitors without smart phones). There would have to be measures in place to ensure that the same person doesn’t submit multiple questionnaires, but I think that could be designed relatively simply.

3. Real-time feedback
Another way to make surveys valuable to both tourists and destination planners and developers, would be to couple geolocation with an SMS service. Tourists could opt in to the program upon arrival at a destination, and upon entering certain geofences they would automatically receive an informational text describing the attraction with links to more information if they’re interested. For instance, upon approaching a monument a visitor could receive historical information about the attraction, or upon entering a local market the user could receive a link to a detailed map showing where certain stalls are located. This system could be coupled with an SMS survey system like TextIt. This way, the destination could get real-time feedback from tourists about certain aspects of an attraction as the visitor is experiencing it (i.e. rating scale questions about customer service, facilities, etc.). This would help to eliminate the problem of recall bias that often exists when tourists are asked to recall certain aspects of their trip days (or weeks) after it’s over.

There’s obviously a ton of potential for mobile tech in the context of tourism, from the inspiration and planning stages, to booking and experiencing, to sharing the tourism experience with others. I’m super excited to see what kind of apps and novel technologies will be launched in the next few years to further enhance and add layers of value to the tourism experience.

About Jason Kreiselman

Jason Kreiselman

When he’s not backpacking through far-off corners of the planet, Jason Kreiselman works as a digital marketing specialist with Brand USA in Washington DC helping to promote international visitation to the U.S. He also works with the International Institute of Tourism Studies conducting tourism research for public and private sector clients. Jason spent four years in Ecuador as an ICT Advisor to the Peace Corps where he worked to promote small businesses and secure grants for organizations focusing on environmental conservation and sustainable development.

Jason holds a Master of Tourism Administration degree with a concentration in Sustainable Destination Management from The George Washington University. You can find him on LinkedIn here.

Interested in learning more about this topic of digital options for surveys and evaluation? Register now for our Technology for Monitoring & Evaluation online course, which runs 26 January – 20 February 2015.

When we last featured TC309: mHealth alumna, Lauren Bailey, on the TechChange blog, we shared her mHealth final project on the potential of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in using mobiles for public health. Since then, Lauren has landed a position at International Medical Corps as a Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant, where she works with colleagues who are also TechChange mHealth alumni.

This week, we visited Lauren at the International Medical Corps office in Washington, DC where she shared her latest updates on her mHealth career.

What did you find useful from your TechChange course, mHealth: Mobiles for Public Health?
The TechChange mHealth online course gave me a solid background in the use of mobile phones for public health. I became familiar with different organizations and companies that develop or use mHealth programs, and I feel comfortable talking knowledgeably about mHealth with others.

What impact has TC309 and TechChange had on you and your career?

1. Connecting to future employers
I applied for a position at International Medical Corps (IMC) that had an mHealth component in the job description. During the interview process, I connected with my now supervisor and colleague who were both in the middle of taking the same TechChange mHealth course I had taken 6 months earlier. They were both impressed with what they had been learning in the course, and I feel that the TechChange connection was one of the reasons I was offered a temporary position at the organization. I have been an active member of the organization’s mHealth interest group.

During my first week at IMC, my supervisor forwarded me the most recent WASHplus newsletter as a resource for a project I was working on. To my surprise, my TechChange project was featured in the newsletter! She was very impressed that the course had led to this feature in the newsletter.

2. Connecting to like-minded professionals passionate about WASH
I am thankful to have met many motivated and interesting TechChange colleagues and alumni. I reached out to a fellow TechChange alumnus with whom I had connected during the course. He and I share a love for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Talking with him gave me great insight on his work in WASH and gave me ideas for future work in the sector.

3. Crowdsourcing knowledge for primary research
Recently, I have used the TechChange Alumni group on LinkedIn to crowdsource information on the use of mHealth for behavior change. The network is full of accomplished and gracious people with diverse backgrounds willing to help others learn. My final course project, which coincided with a master level global environmental health course, served as a stepping stone to the qualitative research I am currently conducting on the use of mHealth for behavior change communication.

What advice would you give to students taking TC309 or any TC course?
1. Pay extra attention to Alain Labrique, one of the top speakers in the course. He gives an excellent introduction to the mHealth landscape. His lecture and research is part of the motivation behind some of my interests in the different uses of mHealth.

2. Be diligent and set aside time every day to log into the course — even if you can only spend 20 minutes. Try to attend live events and make sure to ask questions that enhance the discussion.

3. Make connections. Be sure to reach out to classmates and find out more about their backgrounds and career paths. It’s great to have connections from all across the globe!

About Lauren Bailey
Lauren Bailey is in the midst of completing her Master of Public Health degree in Global Environmental Health at George Washington University where she is conducting qualitative research on the use of mHealth for behavior change in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector. Lauren’s passion for global health began five years ago when she defended her undergraduate thesis that used malaria as a case study for how health impacts poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. She acquired an interest for mobile health upon entering her graduate program where she learned more about the different uses of mobile phones for health purposes. Lauren originally hails from Massachusetts and is an avid baseball fan.

Are you also interested in mobile phones for public health? Join us for our upcoming Mobiles for International Development and mHealth online courses here.

In a recent LinkedIn post, World Bank President Jim Kim discussed the global impact of smartphones in even the most remote areas of the world today. President Kim called cheap smartphones the “poor’s new window to the world of the rich.” Not only are smartphones increasingly providing people in the developing world a medium to view possibilities in other countries, they also provide the means for online access to media, services, and goods offered abroad.

Industry-wide, the prices of smartphones are lowering. Current mobile leaders looking to expand into new markets including emerging markets are offering products at a lower price points to be affordable to new customers. Expanding internet access initiatives by a variety of players will drive down the costs of data plans for smartphones. The entrance of more players in the mobile phone provider space is pressuring mobile phone companies to compete by offering smartphones at low prices, allowing smartphones to be more accessible in the developing world.

Here are the top 5 cheap smartphones for under $50 USD as of July 2014:

1. Mozilla  (as low as $25)
OS: Firefox
Now available in India for $33 (buy it on SnapDeal)
Will be available in: Latin America and Africa (buy it on Firefox) Mozilla $25 smartphone

Photo credit: Cellular News

Popularly known for their desktop browser, the Mozilla Foundation announced at the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona its collaboration with the Chinese chipmaker, Spreadtrum Communications to release the cheapest smartphone to date. Mozilla hopes to attract customers in Latin America, Africa, and India by using their own operating system, Firefox — rather than iOS or Android. This affordable Mozilla phone recently launched in India on August 25th for $33. It supports Hindi and Tamil, the two most widely spoken languages in India.

2. Used Apple iPhone 3GS as low as $40
Available in: any country with a GSM carrier with a sim card (buy it on Amazon) Apple iPhone 3G

Photo credit: The Unlockr

While known for making the most coveted and expensive smartphones, Apple’s older iPhone models do come at an affordable price. You can buy Apple’s used unlocked iPhone 3GS on Amazon for as low as $40. Once unlocked, the iPhone may be used with any carrier with a new SIM card, allowing it to be used in other countries. Another alternative is going through mobile donation programs such as Hope Phones. Hope Phones is a program that accepts phone donations to supply to mHealth workers across the world. TechChange donated several used iPhones to Medic Mobile last year.

3. Karbonn Smart A50S $46 (Rs. 2,790)
OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Available in: India (buy it on Flipkart) Karbonn A50 smartphone

Photo credit: BGR

Already making affordable handsets in India, Karbonn Mobiles is entering the affordable smartphone race by introducing the cheapest Android smartphone in India. While Android enjoys 80% of the smartphone market in India, according to Android’s Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai, less than 10% of the Indian population has access to smartphones. With its relatively low cost, Karbonn will attract first time smartphone buyers in remote places.

4. Spice Smart Flo Edge Mi-349 $47 (Rs. 2,845)
OS: Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread
Available in: India (buy it on Flipkart) Spice Smart Flo Edge Mi 349

Photo credit: GSMArena

Joining Karbonn in providing the Indian consumers with another affordable smartphone is Spice Smart with its Flo Edge Mi-349. Spice Smart provides yet another option to the Indian population on the already popular Android platform.

5. MTN Steppa $48 (499 Rand)
OS: Customized Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Available in: South Africa (at the following stores: MTN stores, PEP, Foschini, Edcon, Truworths, Ackermans, John Craig, Woolworths, Rhino, Dunns)

 MTN Steppa smartphone

Photo credit: TechCentral

Known as the most affordable smartphone in South Africa, MTN Steppa can be purchased in select stores for 499 Rand ($48). MTN Steppa is based on Qualcomm Reference Design Programme that allows any brand to produce their own brand device at a lower cost. MTN Steppa is yet another player in mobile companies’ race to make the most affordable smartphone.

Runner Ups
Beyond the Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies that dominate the smartphone market in the U.S., there are other smartphone providers that didn’t make it on this list. Honorable mentions include:

Are there other budget smartphones we missed here? How much quality can consumers expect from these low-cost phones? Are you interested in this topic of cheap smartphones and their applications in the developing world? Enroll now in our Mobiles for International Development online course.

What role can mobile phones play in distributing a survey and collecting feedback and data from respondents? In particular, how can we use mobile technology to reach out to and engage individuals in developing countries that tend to be underrepresented in global surveys?

In the recent My World 2015 survey launched in December 2012 in honor of the end of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and the establishment of a new “post-2015” global development framework, the United Nations Development Program, the UN Millennium Campaign, the Overseas Development Institute, the ONE campaign, and over 700 on-the-ground grassroots organizations as well as international and local information technology companies created and continue to implement a worldwide survey seeking to collect the opinions of individuals everywhere on what matters most to them when it comes the future.

Survey respondents are asked to vote on 6 out of a possible 17 policy priorities, including a fill-in-the-blank priority that the individuals can add themselves. The survey aims to examine the public policy priorities of individuals across the globe. The survey allows respondents to choose 6 out of 16 pre-selected priorities or to submit their own priority in a 17th ‘fill-in-the-blank’ option. Respondents have participated in the survey via pen-and-paper ballot, via a central website, and through mobile technology (SMS, IVR, and a mobile application).

Here are five findings on the ways mobile phones have been leveraged for distributing the My World 2015 survey:

1. About 20% of over 2 million votes have come in via mobile phones.

2. Over 70% of the mobile phone respondents live in developing countries. These participants came from nations that score low on the Human Development Index (versus 31% in the overall survey).

3. More men have responded via mobile than women. (at a rate of 2 male respondent for every one female), and respondents via mobile tend to prioritize better job opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the majority of respondents.

4. Mobile distribution benefited heavily from local and international partnerships and, as with the web, more immediate and centralized collection of the data was possible. In implementation, the mobile phone promotion and distribution of the survey differed slightly from the pen-and-paper and web distribution of the survey.

5. A survey is only as effective as its promotion and distribution. Local and international partnerships helped distribute the survey through targeted high tech, low tech and no tech campaigns. Promotion for all three of the survey distribution methods included integrated campaigns targeting specific national and regional audiences as well as ongoing global efforts to raise awareness and foster interest in the survey.

How do these results so far compare to your own surveys? What kind of mobile data collection methods have you used in your projects and organizations? What challenges have you faced in gathering this feedback and engaging with survey participants in developing countries?

Linda Warnier OECD

Linda Warnier is a Communication Officer at OECD and an alumna of TechChange’s Mobiles for International Development online course. She develops and implements digital strategies and uses paid and free tools to plan and perform online impact assessments for large international organisations including the OECD and, before that, the European Commission.

To read Linda’s full report of My World 2015 and Mobiles, please click here.


To discuss this topic and similar issues related to mobile phones and data collection, be sure to join us for our upcoming online courses on Mobiles for International Development course and Technology for Monitoring & Evaluation!

Photo credit: First Access


In the fight against poverty, microcredit has been hailed as one of the most successful tools invented to help enterprising men and women build wealth in the developing world. Access to small loans has certainly been a game changer for many low-income individuals. I have seen microcredit make a positive impact on real people through my work at TechnoServe, a non-profit committed to applying business solutions to alleviate poverty. In fact, many development organizations are dedicated to similar business-centric initiatives, helping entrepreneurs build successful businesses by connecting them with capital, networks, and skills training. This work is vital to reducing poverty, but these organizations do not have the capacity to help everyone in need. There are still 2.5 billion men and women around the world without basic financial services.

During a recent course I took with TechChange on Mobiles for International Development, I was very impressed by First Access, an SMS-based loan assessment tool. This technology has the potential to give the 2.5 billion adults without a formal bank account an instant credit history. With a credit history, these individuals would have the ability to take out a loan. First Access uses pre-paid mobile phone data to assess credit risk and deliver a loan recommendation via SMS to potential borrowers in just a few seconds. Instead of sending a financial representative to a potential borrower’s house to assess risk, the loan representative could simply send an SMS.

This technology is impressive because it uses already existing financial and demographic data registered with telecommunications companies to determine loan eligibility. It is a more objective, standardized system, unlike the current loan assessment technique in many developing nations, which can be based on the materials used to construct your house or the opinions of your neighbors. First Access benefits all parties, particularly financial institutions by saving them time and money cutting down on the cumbersome loan assessment process, as well as phone companies through increased data usage and customer loyalty.

By using the already aggregated data for the 6.3 billion active mobile subscriptions around the world, First Access is, in many ways, simply acting as a liaison between different parties. To make the technology successful, strong partnerships with financial institutions and telecommunications companies need to be established. The alignment of interests will be a huge obstacle in many markets. First Access has the most potential for success in Africa, as many African countries are already using mobile money programs, which should make borrowers less reluctant to adopt the technology. However, First Access could be dangerous in countries where political, religious, or ethnic tensions are prevalent, as the assessment process might be forced to deny some applicants and grant loans to others.

Financial institutions bear the biggest risk in using this new technology to assess credit eligibility. First Access is unclear about how the assessment process determines the loan award, simply stating it is based on demographic, geographic, financial, and social information. It seems borrowers could manipulate the process by artificially inflating their social networks or using someone else’s address. The potential for a mobile phone black-market is even more of risk. A strong mobile device fraud-assessment would need to be built into the financial assessment process. This could easily be negotiated with the telecommunications companies to help increase legitimate phone sales, as well as lowering the risk for financial institutions.

First Access could potentially connect over half of the world’s population to microcredit services through its convenient loan assessment process. It’s quick, easy to use, and it doesn’t require excessive outside intervention, or hands on training. For the first time, these billions of unbanked men and women would be given the opportunity to start a business with the click of a button. This technology is empowering people by giving financial institutions objective, standardized data. No longer will people be judged by the material of their roof, but the data stored by their phones.


Tessa Ruddy is a first-year graduate student at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. She is studying international development and conflict resolution and recently took TechChange’s Mobiles for International Development course. She is passionate about the impact of development work in pre and post conflict communities, particularly the use of SMS-based technology to connect people with financial services.

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of UN Foundation. (Photo credit: Johns Hopkins SAIS. Photo by Kaveh Sardari Photography)

Last Friday, the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) launched its second annual Global Women in Leadership Conference with this year’s theme on “Technology in Action: Changing the Way Women Live and Work”. Throughout the day, female leaders spanning various aspects of the tech industry from across the world joined over 300 conference attendees to discuss the growing role of women in technology.

Supporting women in tech has always been important to TechChange and we’ve been excited to work with several organizations in this space. For example, we’ve worked with TechGirls at the State Department, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), and partnered with USAID to create a course on Gender in Political Transition Environments. At the conference, it was great to hear from TechChange partners including MAMA’s Executive Director, Kirsten Gagniare, and Christopher Burns, Senior Advisor and Team Lead for Mobile Access at USAID, as they discussed mHealth and mobiles for international development. I found it personally inspiring to meet and hear from all of these female trailblazers in tech from across the world including Roya Mahboob, one of the first female IT CEOs in Afghanistan, and many more women leaders in technology driven industries.

In case you missed the event, here are a few highlights from this conference on women and technology:

  1. Mobile is the future to empowering women worldwide. ICT4D and women’s global access to technology, especially mobile phones, was a strong theme throughout the event. According to keynote speaker, Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation, there are currently more mobile phones than people in Africa. Also, the gender gap in mobile phone usage is wide: women have 300 million less mobile subscriptions than men.

Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation discussed how mobile phones empower women with mobility and privacy for financial transactions. A specific example of this empowerment is via M-PESA, which has been championed by women and has become a global model for mobile money, according to Jalak Jobanputra, venture capitalist and Managing Partner of FuturePerfect Ventures. With the excitement of emerging mobile technology, ThoughtWorks CTO, Rebecca Parson, highlighted an important point on how cultural and local context matters in ICT4D. She shared a poignant anecdote on a water project in Africa that was sabotaged by the women of a particular village. The motivation behind this damage was to preserve the already limited external interaction among the females of this community; the water pump technology took away the opportunity for women to interact with each other when they would collectively fetch water for their families.

2. Education is key for women to succeed in tech. In the conference’s final panel on “Leveling the Field: Expanding Economic Opportunities”, panelists shared several resources for women to build up their technical acumen and to get involved in tech communities. Be sure to check out groups and organizations like Tech LadyMafia, Rails Girls, CodeChix, Girls Who Code, and taking online courses with TechChange! Proficiency in tech tools opens up options for women in terms of job opportunities and work arrangements such as telecommuting and flexible work schedules when using collaborative software.

3. Women as consumers and producers of tech will result in products more catered to women. Jennifer Sherman, Senior Vice President of Product Mangement at Aptean, made a strong business case for design teams to consider women when creating new tech products. As tech companies are looking to grow their customer base, they will need to understand what women want as more women want to buy tech products that are specifically designed and built to meet their needs.

What was your favorite takeaway from the conference? How will the world be shaped by women consuming and producing more technology? Let us know your thoughts!

By Lauren Bailey, TC309: mHealth – Mobile Phones for Public Health alumna

Lauren Bailey

My final project for TechChange’s mHealth online course overlapped a final project for a master level global environmental health course. I’m currently working towards a Master of Public Health degree, concentrating in global environmental health, and specifically focusing in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). I recently became interested in mHealth and decided to do my global environmental health course project on mHealth in the WASH sector. Since I was new to mHealth, I kept the project simple, touching on some basics. This background document includes: (1) applications of mHealth in WASH; (2) case studies; and (3) recommendations.

Throughout TC309, I became increasingly interested in how mHealth can be applied to behavior change, a major component of reducing WASH-related illness. The mHealth online course has been a wonderful way to learn about the different applications of mHealth, the challenges and successes of programs, and the future possibilities of mHealth. I’ve been inspired by many of the articles, discussions, and live presentations and am now incorporating mHealth into my master’s thesis.

Here is the infographic I created, using Piktochart as part of my course project:

mHealth-in-WASH-infographic_Lauren Bailey


  1. Mobile phones offer a means to reach most at-risk populations, particularly those in rural areas, to change health outcomes.
  2. More individuals in most African countries will have access to a mobile phone than they will to an improved water source by 2013.
  3. Mobile phones have been deployed over the past decade as tools to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  4. Client education and behavior change communication, data collection and reporting, financial transactions and incentives, and supply chain management are potential mHealth applications categories.

To read Lauren’s entire final project from the online course, mHealth: Mobile Phones for Public Health, please click here.

Interested in learning more about how mobile phones are impacting WASH, healthcare, and promoting health worldwide? Register now for our 4-week online on mHealth here.


The Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame is launching a  pilot initiative with TechChange to experiment with blended learning online and offline on the topic of mHealth: Mobiles for Public Health. As part of Notre Dame’s continuing experiments of best practices in online and hybrid learning,  this initiative of the Master of Science in Global Health program will be combining an on-campus class on mHealth taught by Professor Joseph Bock with TechChange’s mHealth online course. According to Dr. Bock, “This pilot course is an exciting initiative and we are eager to promote it.”

Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health program is sponsoring 11 students and program directors to join TechChange’s mHealth online course in conjunction with Professor Joseph Bock’s face-to-face offline mHealth class, which aims to equip students with technical knowledge to apply mobile and Information Communications Technology (ICT) for global health challenges. The school will be receiving data on the students’ participation on the course platform from TechChange, which along with their written assignments for the Master of Science in Global Health class, will factor into determining the students’ grades. As the students will be logged in and participating in TechChange’s online learning platform, Professor Joseph Bock will be meeting in person with the students weekly to discuss the content on the TechChange mHealth course and the professor’s assignments.

In partnership with the mHealth Alliance, TechChange has offered this mHealth: Mobiles for International Development online course four times since 2012.  The course, which has been mentioned in the New York Times, has welcomed over 450 doctors, nurses, community health workers, and global public health experts who regularly participate in this online course from over 75 countries. Participants have included representatives of organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Cleveland Clinic, Global Health Corps, officials from ministries of health of several countries, and many more.

Notre Dame’s MS in Global Health students have been enthusiastic about beginning the mHealth course, which will run March 31 to April 25, 2014 – just before final exams and before the students travel abroad to pursue summer global health field and research projects. Several students plan on tying in their mHealth online learnings into their planned field work after this semester, including Michael Clark, who believes this mHealth course will help focus his current project to track mosquito-borne disease in Belize using a mobile database platform by meeting other global mHealth practitioners in the online class.

“The mHealth course will help focus my efforts in Belize as it teaches best practices learned through collaboration with local partners across the world,” says Michael Clark. “Further, I look forward to the invaluable tips for implementing ICT4D in previously technology-deprived areas, like rural Belize, that the expert lecturers and current global health practitioners will be able to provide.”

Jingmeng Xie plans to build upon her past experience at a Nairobi maternal health clinic (a Ford Family Program) by applying the content she learned in the mHealth classes to explore the roles mobile technology can play in public health. The MS in Global Health students, through the mHealth initiative, are diving deeply into the role that mobile data collection, electronic health records, and Information and Communications Technologies can promote better health for populations even in the most remote areas in the world. Another student, Thomas Ulsby, is preparing for his summer research trip to India where he hopes to learn how electronic reporting of blood glucose levels via mobile phones has impacted treatment plans for type I and type II diabetes.

We’re very excited to welcome these students from the University of Notre Dame and can’t wait to see how they’ll be applying their experience in mHealth to their summer field projects in India, Belize, Kenya, and beyond!

Interested in learning about mHealth this spring as well? Register now for our mHealth: Mobiles for Public Health online course.


Posted by Arjen Swank from Text to Change, guest speaker for TC105: Mobiles for International Development

Since 2008, Text to Change (TTC) has been working to provide and collect real-time and accurate information using mobile devices in relevant and meaningful ways to people in developing countries all over the world. As the mobile phone has reached even the most remote places across the world, we have seen how mobiles can empower citizens of developing nations.

Through our experience in partnering with development bodies, NGOs, private companies, governments and other global organizations, there are several key lessons we’ve learned in using mobile phone technology to achieve social change and work to limit continuous dependence on foreign aid.

Here are some of the key insights TTC has learned for best practices for Mobiles for International Development:

1. Keep it simple

One of our Text to Change’s guiding principles is to maintain simplicity in the services we develop and the technologies we use. Our campaigns can reach everyone who has access to a mobile phone, approximately 80% of the developing world. We provide profiled databases, call centers with research capability, and text message platforms that are interactive, easy to use, scalable, and cost-effective – all supported with measurable results.

2. SMS campaigns can reach more people

When TTC worked with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, they wanted to provide pregnant women, even in the most isolated areas, with important information regarding their health. The goal was to empower them to take the necessary steps for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. However, they weren’t able to reach them. TTC launched a large-scale nationwide mHealth SMS campaign targeting these women. Within three months we had 100,000 unique participants. Now the total amount of participants is almost half a million and as we speak there are 260.000 unique participants.

TTC programs create opportunities for people to improve their lives and have reached millions of people across 17 countries in Africa and South America. We help organizations to connect with their, often hard to reach, target groups and create meaningful dialogues.

3. Personalized interaction matters

Because this maternal health campaign was interactive, we were able to determine in what phase of their pregnancy these women were. This way, we could provide them with the right personalized message at the right time. For instance mothers are reminded that they need to visit the clinic for their third ANC visit, when and what medicine to take, or receive information on hygiene and nutrition in a specific week after the delivery. The information can be updated based on inputs from the users or clinic staff, but users can also opt-out or re-opt-in when they (no longer) want to receive the messages.

Want to learn more about Text to Change and how they’ve implemented SMS programs successfully throughout developing countries? Enroll now in mHealth: Mobiles for Public Health and the next round of Mobiles for International Development an online course that will discuss how mobile phones are being used to improve the health of new mothers, share farming best practices, and teach within and outside the classroom across the world.