Kenya: cell phones, Google Apps help bring basic sanitation and more transparency

Nuru International, a US-based nonprofit focused on pioneering holistic, sustainable solutions to poverty, is using some Google platforms and Nokia phones to increase sanitation in Kuria, Kenya.

The organization has registered a Kenyan web domain name and created an account with Google Apps, providing access to each of the 60 Kenyan staff members. GPRS-enabled handsets have been purchased for about $40 apiece, and using these phones they can email one another very inexpensively.

“We’re using the best technology available to reach our farmers. Nokia made a great phone. Safaricom built a strong GPRS network. Opera coded a superb browser. And Google made a truly remarkable suite of applications. They’re all unintentionally working together with Nuru. According to our motto, we’re bringing the best of the best to serve the poorest of the poor.” Said David Carreon, Nuru Healthcare Project Manager.

“We use the phones during data collection for sanitation and hygiene and also the Community Healthcare Workers instead of writing use the phone to submit data. “ Said Nelly Andega, Nuru Health Care Manager.

The teams use the cameras on the phone to photograph and video the sites they’re supervising and upload the images, keeping a permanent and searchable record of all their supervision activities. And, the use of Google Sheet is keeping their organization paper free, further reducing the cost of operations from supplies to office space.

Read more about the technologies used in David Carreon’s blog post “Farmers Fighting Poverty with Nokia Google Opera and Safaricom“, 20 May 2010

Another unexpected advantage of the use of cell phones is increased transparency. Google forms on the phone are now used to register attendance at important trainings. “Even the Water and Sanitation Representatives [volunteer community educators] have come earlier”, says Eliza, a Water and Sanitation Field Manager. “They know that the phone records the time that I submit whether they are on time, late or absent. So, they don’t even ask me to change their records anymore. With the phones, there is no cheating.”

Web site: Nuru International – Water & Sanitation

Source: Jaymi Heimbuch, Planet Green, 21 May 2010 ; Nicole Scott, Nuru Water and Sanitation blog, 01 Jun 2010

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