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United Nations Speeds Pace of Nutrition Surveys with Digital Pen and Paper Technology Powered by Mi-Forms

The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) generates evidence-based information and analysis which is used to inform livelihood interventions and investments, development programming and strategic planning for the Somali people. FSNAU needed a way to automate data collection in the field that could easily digitize the information collected, while at the same time, could withstand rugged and unpredictable field conditions of the East African environment. FSNAU worked with Mi-Co to capture information in the field electronically, using Mi-Forms e-forms software with digital pen and paper technology. This new technology replaced the previous manual process, while at the same time still preserved the pen-on-paper interface requiring almost no new training.

Between May 12th and June 2nd, nutrition surveys were conducted in Hargeisa and Garowe using Mi-Forms with the Anoto Digital pens. The time it took for data collection to transmission and analysis improved from an average of three weeks to an average of five days, with a high level of character recognition (90%). Given that the digital pen looks like an ordinary pen, it did not stand out as a high valued device and a theft target, alleviating any apprehension of using it in south-central Somalia where security is of concern.

It is expected that the full roll-out to the rest of the FSNAU team (of an additional 30+ Digital Pens) will be implemented in the next few months. Currently, Mi-Co is working with the same unit for yet another digital pen-based project.

”The combination of the Mi-Forms solution and digital pen and paper technology has enabled us to collect, transmit, and analyse validated data in a much faster manner,” said Kamau Wanjohi, Data Systems and Information Manager for UNFSNAU.” In addition, this technology on requires minimal training for our field staff. Given the success, we expect the Mi-Forms solution to eventually extend to all other surveys done by all other divisions of UNFAO Somalia.”