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The Digital Agency for International Development

Camfed - Mobile data collection field kits for Monitoring and Evaluation

Aptivate built mobile data collection field kits for the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) to help them monitor and evaluate the impact of their work in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Mar 2007 to May 2008



Camfed wanted to conduct surveys to better understand the impact of their work supporting girls through their education. The surveys were extensive and in six languages so mobile devices were identified as an appropriate alternative to the sheer volume of paper that would be required.

As Camfed's technology partner, Aptivate evaluated different mobile devices and surveying applications and prepared robust field kits for the rural conditions in which the surveys would be carried out.

A trial in Tanzania highlighted the potential advantages of using mobile devices over paper survey systems. Mobile devices were more cost effective and significantly easier to use, resulting in higher quality, consistent data. The trial also demonstrated key areas around general survey design and management, translation, version control, data capture and analysis that would benefit from supporting technology.

Project objectives

  • To develop existing surveying software to support Camfed's requirements.
  • To develop any additional tools or processes to assist with Camfed's M&E activities.
  • To build a further understanding of training, deployment and support issues for a mobile survey system.
  • To build capacity within Camfed to design, deploy, and support mobile surveys.

Project activities

  • Design of a field kit for the survey teams consisting of a laptop in a weather-proof case with eight mobile devices and docks, a backup system, a solar charger, printed manual and spare parts.
  • improving the desktop survey designer software to support multiple languages
  • Fixing numerous bugs and usability issues in the mobile survey software
  • Training and remote support for the survey teams in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe


The surveys were conducted by Camfed's in-country offices and members of CAMA, the alumnae association for Camfed graduates.

The individuals surveyed included students, teachers, parents or guardians and members of CAMA.

Aptivate's skills go far beyond the technical, their in-country expertise has been invaluable and their goal has been consistent: to make our project a success, whether or not IT is required

Maria Mascarucci, Programme Manager, Camfed International, UK



The field trial provided invaluable feedback on the suitability of our initial technology choices and helped us put in place the workflow for creating, translating and conducting the surveys beyond the trial phase.

We worked in an Agile, iterative manner tackling high priority, high risk items first over a series of two-week project cycles. We presented a set of possible work activities to Camfed at the start of each iteration and prioritised them together. We then worked closely with Camfed throughout the iteration to complete them.



Palm Tungsten E2 PDAs were selected for their robustness, backup capabilities and battery life.

We based the field kits around EpiSurveyor, a free mobile survey Java app, with the surveys designed on a corresponding desktop application, also written in Java. EpiSurveyor had previously been used for short surveys in the healthcare sector and needed to be enhanced to support the longer qualitative, multi-lingual surveys that Camfed required.

We identified and fixed a number of bugs and usability issues to which the out-of-the-box EpiSurveyor was prone. We also fixed the survey designer so that is could be used on Linux operating systems.