Bringing Social Technology to Rural Africa
Written by Mireia Romanach and Anthea Piong, WARC Group
WARC Group was established in 2011 in Sierra Leone as a company that aims to play a critical role in Africa’s agricultural revolution by integrating technology into indigenous farming communities and contributing to their rapid development. Part of this process includes importing cutting-edge farming technology, training farmers to use and maintain it, and then incorporating it into daily farming activities with the goal of eventually improving our whole farming system and attaining better yields.
WARC’s main farm is located in the southern province of Sierra Leone in a village called Tormabum. We established a training farm there, teaching new techniques to employees and other members from the community, with the objective of transforming their rural subsistence farms into large-scale commercial ones.
We started working with Poverty Stoplight one year ago to measure the impact WARC has on the communities in and around Tormabum. It took us almost 9 months of working with the development team to get to a deployable version of the app as we faced several challenges along the way, such as having limited internet, no electricity and really poor road access. But thanks to support from the team, who managed to make the changes to the app that we needed as well as answering all our questions, we were able to collect our first round of 200 Stoplight surveys, across 3 Chiefdoms this past September.
From our experience using the Poverty Stoplight in the field, we discovered the following: The app’s web platform boasts some neat functionality that allows users to have a first look analysis into the data. The mapping feature is easy to use, and provides a glance at which of the 50 indicators tend to be good, fair, or poor across the locale surveyed. The use of colors draws the eye too, and a high-level overview of the data is automatically generated on the dashboard, ready to be presented to stakeholders. For those who are more interested in the raw data, downloading the dataset is only a few clicks away. There are still some areas in which the online platform can be improved, but it can only get better from here in future updates.
Currently, we are analyzing all the data collected from our surveys, working with a local and international team to identify the 10 most pressing indicators for our participants. After this, we will begin organizing the participants into groups and start preparing them to face their challenges together in order to achieve their own life improvement goals.
As a Poverty Stoplight Hub, we are planning on extending the survey throughout the whole country and showcasing the Poverty Stoplight methodology and technology to other organizations in Sierra Leone. Since we have been successful in using this tool in an environment with limited access to technology and connectivity, we are confident in leading the rollout of the Poverty Stoplight to all areas of Sierra Leone, urban and rural alike.