Mobile/web based Social Mobilization using Community Activists for an ‘Open Defecation Free’ Environment
A web and mobile based solution to reach out to communities for effective and real time communication.
About 40 Million people living in about 80 thousand villages across Pakistan defecate in open. The task of making Pakistan “open defecation free – ODF” is an enormous one. The villages are also expanding over time due to population growth and consequently the ODF status may change due to increase in population. Converting the “open defecation” habits of these 40 million people to ODF practices needs an army of social mobilizers. To task external government staff or civil society to go across the country and spread this message is extremely difficult.
In an ideal world, this would be possible through the use of community based mechanisms. Active volunteers could be used from each community to reach out to those who are not motivated enough and are still defecating in open. On a similar note, schools also need to be open defecation free and students who volunteer to socially mobilize may have access to such platform.
It should be a community-friendly network for volunteers to help each village to achieve the status of being ‘open defecation free’. This may start through a simple registration of mobile phones by those activists who are interested to volunteer. This platform will be used to replace the entire mass media campaigns to increase awareness and change behavior which costs millions of rupees. The same platform could be used to provide feedback and monitoring data.
The system may be implemented for both communities and schools and involve activists to make them clean. The system should be anchored with Government departments to allow instant responses to queries. The Government may also start a competition among them to reward top performances of volunteers. It will be useful of computer links or information of relevant knowledge material could be provided to these volunteers for specific issues. Such a step will automate the provision of a wide spectrum of knowledge embedded in websites to a single touch of a volunteer who may not be very literate.
There are multiple impacts of community based social mobilization has several deep-rooted impacts. First, it will a means for socially mobilizing millions of people which is otherwise not a task that a government of a developing country can undertake in a few years. Second, the social mobilization through community activists will have 100% ownership of the approach and will sustain since those activists live in those communities and are directly effected by it. Third, it removes cultural barriers because the people convincing those defecating in the open will be members of their own societies and cultures which is a strong marketing tool in many corporate strategies.
This kind of mobile application based social mobilization can impact the whole country in a few years because it will not be capital-intensive and have a large human resource for the movement.