Gathering vital food security data in the Democratic Republic of Congo

How market research helped the World Food Programme identify food security indicator data

By GeoPoll, a leading mobile surveying platform with a database of over 200 million users.


Alternative methods for collecting data in war zones

DataIn 2013, the World Food Programme (WFP) was faced with a challenge when conflict broke out in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They needed updated food security indicator data, but could not collect it via traditional methods. This led them to develop a new way to collect food security data together with GeoPoll.


Mobile survey

The WFP previously carried out work analysing food security in North Kivu through face-to-face interviews in 2011 and 2012, but in early 2013 conflict in the region dramatically altered the food security situation. WFP chose to partner with GeoPoll to send out mobile surveys as GeoPoll has a large database of mobile subscribers in the DRC, and is able to send messages that are free for respondents. The two organizations worked together to adapt two food security modules for the mobile phone, and sent surveys by SMS in July, August, and September of 2013 reaching 2.000 responses.

So what?

Costs and time savings

Costs and time savings

Results showed that demographically, mobile surveys and face-to-face surveys were in line, with a distribution of 69.6% male and 30.4% female for mobile, and 65.2% male to 34.8% female in face-to-face surveys. Mobile results from the Food Consumption Score (FSC) module were consistent over all three months, with an average of 76.5% of respondents having an “acceptable” FCS score, and 8.1% having a “severe” score.

While there were some differences in the data, mobile surveys accurately demonstrated food security trends and identified the populations most vulnerable to severe food insecurity. There were also significant cost and time differences: costs were $5 per survey for mobile surveys and $22 per survey for face-to-face. Mobile surveys took 2 weeks for collection of 2,000 responses, whereas face-to-face surveys took 6 weeks for 2,700 responses, and the mobile survey timeframe has been further reduced in subsequent projects.

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