Malawi is among the poorest of African nations, and its under-performing health and educational systems are critical barriers to sustainable development. Malawiki, a YPI innovation, is a mobile phone application that will provide Malawi’s citizens, government agencies, and NGOs with critical, validated information for monitoring and improving local health and education services for the very first time.
Once the design of the application is completed, smartphone users in any district in Malawi – citizens, funders, health professionals, government officials, and local authorities – will be able to access a wide range of national and local data critical for monitoring local health and education trends. The application will work on Android platforms and will provide an easy-to-use interface for exploring trends within and between communities. Users of Malawiki will see essential local measures of health and education: levels of infectious diseases (including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis), prevention and treatment activities, and the performance of local education services (including graduation, attendance, and literacy rates).
Malawiki will also provide Malawians information indicating whether programs implemented by their government, NGOs, and IGOs have been evaluated. Evaluation studies are in very short supply in Malawi (and generally in Africa’s southern tier). Impact evaluations promote greater program quality and improved accountability. Malawiki, along with YPI’s joint program on evaluation with the University of Malawi, is designed to support and encourage local evaluation studies. It will also provide programs and community members access to tailored data collection instruments. Users will also be able to upload collected data for YPI staff to analyze and publish. Additionally, Malawiki’s combination of valid trend data and effectiveness studies will allow Malawian community members to determine if they are well-served by their local health and education services and whether their programs are effective.
The application’s wiki feature is a key resource. It will allow reporting of local needs for health supplies to support more efficient distribution of vital preventions and treatments. Malawiki will also facilitate reporting geo-located data to help citizens find potable water and health supplies during emergencies.
With an innovative cluster of features, Malawiki will offer citizens a clear view of where and how they are best served by health and education programs. It will support effective and positive collaborative engagement to promote the steady improvement of health and education services at the community level. The application will help citizens, government officials, and community-based organizations to identify factors linked to positive outcomes in their own area and in other areas. It will provide communities tools to develop focused, data-driven action plans to improve health and education programming (including implementation programs with strong evidence of efficacy). Users will be able to track the progress of their community in preventing and treating illness and ensuring that educational services meet high standards of attendance, academic achievement, and graduation. Malawiki will also support the ability of government agencies, private entities, and NGOs to identify areas of greatest need for technical support, medical supplies, and funding, increasing the effective allocation of resources in an extremely hard-pressed area of Africa.
Throughout the development of Malawiki, the YPI has consulted regularly with Malawian citizens, community-based agencies, and local officials, as well as with academics who have expertise in Malawian culture and society, education, and public health. For over two years, YPI has readied Malawiki for implementation, developing the application’s code and collecting and harmonizing pertinent, local-level data. Once sufficient funding is obtained, the pilot testing phase will take place, followed by a national implementation and comprehensive evaluation. Malawiki is readily scalable beyond the country of Malawi. Once it is in full operation in Malawi, YPI intends to raise additional funds to implement the application in the three Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations contiguous to Malawi: Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. Each of these countries faces health and education obstacles to sustainable growth similar to Malawi. YPI’s long-term goal is to extend the model to all SADC nations.