HFOSS builds mobile application for Haiti based Project

In March an HFOSS team traveled to Haiti to observe and collect requirements for a new mobile  application to be development by the HFOSS to support beneficiary registration and tracking for ACDI/VOCA to assist with a food aid distribution program for expectant mothers and infants in the eastern region of Haiti.

Presidential Palace after Earthquake in Port-a-Prince haiti

Presidential Palace after Earthquake in Port-a-Prince Haiti

ACDI/VOCA is a private, nonprofit organization that has been managing a USAID-funded Food for Peace program, the Multi Year Assistance Program (MYAP) in the Southeast Department of Haiti since 2008. It currently provides a food ration to over 10,000 registered beneficiaries and their families on a monthly basis.

On their visit the team observed the present system in operation and met with ACDI/VOCA’s Chief of Party, Commodity Manager, MIS manager and potential end users. The goal of the visit was to finalize use cases and requirements for the application and to conduct field tests of various aspects of the overall system using a proof-of-concept prototype that the team developed before heading to Haiti.

The prototype was designed to provide a preliminary look at the user interface. Users could enter a substantial portion of the registration data and save and display these on the phone. Several different models of Android devices were tested, including devices with pull-out keyboards. ACDI/VOCA field personnel were able to experiment with application and the developers were able to make minor modifications to UI layouts based on user preferences.

During the requirements gathering phase, it was decided that the mobile system would operate in parallel with the current manual system, at least for some indeterminate transition period. It was also decided to have the data vetted by data entry personnel before being input to their existing database. The figure below shows the scene at a typical food distribution center:

Food Distribution Center, Cotes de Fer, Haiti

Food Distribution Center, Cotes de Fer, Haiti

In this location, one of the smaller centers, more than 500 people were receiving food rations. After observing the distribution process the development team decided that the paper listings and forms would serve as a good backup for auditing purposes and in case of severe system problems – e.g., such as power or cell tower outages. Equally importantly, allowing the current cohort of field agents and end users to continue to rely on their present processing routine will likely enhance the new system’s chances of acceptance and utilization.

The March field trip was successful in determining that the proposed system is feasible. The HFOSS development team is now developing the prototype into a fully functional application and drafting training materials that will be translated into French and Creole by ACDI/VOCA staff. The HFOSS team will be returning to Haiti in July, to deploy the system and train local staff.

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