THE Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (RWASH) program within the Environmental Health Department (EHD) at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is for the first time undertaking a national baseline survey on Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (RWASH) using Akvo software in smart phones.
Akvo software is specifically designed to work in diverse locations that are often remote or lacking reliable infrastructure.
It is a multi-language tool for collecting, evaluating and displaying any quantity of geographically referenced data using android smart phones and an online dashboard that allows you to map situations on the ground and to monitor changes over time.
Last month Akvo, UNICEF and WaterAid facilitated a week long workshop to plan the rollout of the survey and train 50 participants including national and provincial EHD staff on how to use the Akvo software.
“This survey is a milestone for the Environmental Health Department and the Ministry as a whole as it allows us to collect crucial baseline data on Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene practices,” the ministry’s Environmental Health director Tom Nanau said.
“The survey will give us a better understanding as to how people access water in rural communities and also help determine the services required,” he added.
“Information about sanitation and hygiene practices will also be gathered to enable the ministry to develop well informed programs and strategic communication to improve access and use.
“The accuracy, reliability and speed of data collection can be challenging with traditional-paper based surveys.
“Therefore, with the use of this new technology, the Environmental Health Department is confident it will complete data collection for the nation-wide baseline survey promptly with accurate and reliable data at hand,” Mr Nanau said.
Over the course of six weeks, 16 survey teams will collect data from across nine provinces.
“The ministry would like to request all community leaders and elders across the country to render assistance towards the survey team as they visit your communities,” Mr Nanau said.
The baseline survey is being undertaken as part of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program in collaboration with WaterAid and UNICEF, with funding from the Australian government.