Photo by Dominic Chavez / FP2020
What can you accomplish with a mobile phone? If you’re one of PMA2020’s resident enumerators in Ghana, you can change the world—or at least your corner of it.
The resident enumerators are local women employed by PMA2020 to collect data on family planning in their communities. This is an innovative program that uses mobile phone technology instead of traditional pencil and paper demographic surveys. The enumerators interview people at home, enter the results into smartphones and then upload the data to a central server. Planners can see what is happening in local communities in real time and make program changes and supply-chain adjustments as necessary.
Ghana was the first country to implement the program, and the enumerators there are proud of their work. They know they are bringing positive change to their communities. They are also transforming their own lives as women, becoming more self-assured and empowered, and dreaming bigger dreams for the future.
“My life has changed so greatly in this program!” says Francisca Ansoba, an enumerator in the Ahafo Region. Wearing a white polo shirt embroidered with the PMA2020 logo, she explains that she has gone from being shy and tongue-tied to feeling confident in her own abilities. “Because of this program, there is no more shyness,” she says with a laugh. She is now planning to become a nurse or a teacher.
“It feels like we are actually part of something,” says Roselyn Vashitna, an enumerator in the Volta Region. A vibrant young woman who hopes to someday own her own business, Roselyn gestures enthusiastically as she describes her work with PMA2020. “I have this inner feeling that I am feeding [the researchers] with information that will be used to help the people. So I am contributing to that!” She smiles. “I feel really proud to be doing that.”
Marianne Agbelengor is an economics student at Central University in Accra. “Doing the survey, I realized most women had no idea about family planning,” she says. Marianne’s passion is improving the lives of women and children, and she hopes to have a career in philanthropy. She is confident that the data she is collecting for PMA2020 will help bring education and empowerment to her community.
It is a theme that crops up frequently. Barbara Donkor is a poised, polished college graduate who works as an enumerator in Accra. She is inspired by what the FP2020 movement means—not only for Ghana, but for women around the world. “To get 120 million women to be part of family planning services...” Her voice trails off and she suddenly smiles, as if she has just caught a glimpse of something wonderful. “I want to be an ambassador for this great vision.”
Implemented in partnership with local universities and research organizations, PMA2020 uses innovative mobile technology to conduct low-cost, rapid-turnaround, nationally representative surveys to monitor key indicators for family planning and water and sanitation.
With the goal of complementing the Demographic Health Survey (DHS), which reports data in five-year intervals, PMA2020 survey results are released semi-annually and provide consistent progress tracking on contraceptive need, use, quality, choice and access against the FP2020 Core Indicators. PMA2020 survey findings deliver valuable information necessary for timely reporting, program planning, operational decisions and advocacy at the community, national and global levels.
PMA2020 employs a cluster-based network of female resident enumerators to conduct household and health-facility interviews, as well as interviews with women and girls. The resident enumerators are the backbone of PMA2020. As data collectors, they serve as the frontline workers and play the crucial role of linking the project to their respective communities. The resident enumerator cohort is composed primarily of young women who have completed secondary school. To date, PMA2020 has successfully trained 570 resident enumerators in data collection techniques and has enlisted local health care providers to educate the resident enumerators about a range of contraceptive methods to ensure that they are fluent in all aspects of the survey in order to collect quality data, particularly in the health service facilities. Resident enumerators in Ghana, PMA2020’s launch country, were expected to interview up to 42 households, approximately 34 females of reproductive age, and three or four health service delivery points. Since joining the project one year ago, Ghanaian resident enumerators report that their involvement in PMA2020 has improved their confidence and interpersonal skills.
During year one of the project, PMA2020 completed at least one round of data collection in DR Congo (Kinshasa), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. New cadres of resident enumerators are currently being trained in Burkina Faso and Nigeria, with data collection slated to begin in the fall of 2014. The year 2015 will see the expansion of PMA2020 to India (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), Indonesia, Niger and Pakistan.