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Aangan: Empowering women-led networks and communities to take timely action and protect vulnerable children.

Aangan: Empowering women-led networks and communities to take timely action and protect vulnerable children.

Aangan builds and strengthens child protection systems to ensure that the most vulnerable children are safe, supported, in school, and assured of childhoods free from trafficking, child marriage, hazardous work, violence, and exploitation. Read more at aanganindia.org

The Challenge and the Solution:

Aangan is an organisation that works to protect children in areas that have some of the highest rates of child trafficking, hazardous labour, early marriage, and violence in the country. They wanted a tech-driven solution that their women-led community networks could easily use and scale to identify and track vulnerable children, to carry out risk-mitigating interventions, and also to support policy and advocacy programmes.

DataOGram stepped in here with its proven expertise—to provide Aangan with a mobile- and web-based digital tool that could be easily used by anyone, including first-time smart phone users.

The Impact

Leveraging use of technology for timely, actionable interventions

While the communities at Aangan have been leading change, the persistent challenge of doing this in a timely and efficient manner remained unaddressed. Using DataOGram, they were able to leverage the use of technology to simplify and scale usage quite easily even among populations with low literacy levels. They have successfully moved away from the traditional paper/pencil methods of collecting data to now collect, analyse, and share data on a simple and easy-to-use mobile application on a smartphone — this has enabled them to save productive time that could be better used to plan action.

When we initially decided to move from pen and paper to tech-driven data solutions, we were unsure of how our community would accept it. However, the simplicity and ease-of-use meant that our communities not only accepted it but demonstrated that they were more than ready to accept, adopt and embrace technology
Chaitali Seth, COO, Aangan

Reinforcing pride and purpose in the women in the communities

Many of the women in Aangan’s community network had never used a phone before. They were not new to data collection, but the digital application was a new tool for them. Despite the pandemic and fewer opportunities for face-to-face training sessions, the trainers were easily able to train the women to use the mobile application. Equipping the teams with the digital application has increased the teams’ confidence and agency, and also help maintain community connectedness. The shift to digital made child protection content accessible and available to those who need it the most—the practitioners, working with children. It has now made it easier for women in the community themselves to identify trends prevalent across in the district early on.

I feel proud to see my name on the mobile application—it made me realise that this came with a sense of responsibility. The application has made our work much easier and far quicker. It is exciting to look at the data collated, in one place and at any given time than having to flip through pages and pages of long registers.
Madhu Kumari, Community Women Volunteer, Patna

Generating real-time, hyper-localised data that enables timely interventions

Relevant real-time, hyper-local data has the potential to make a significant impact on preventing and responding to increasing rates of child harm incidents. With traditional methods of data collection, by the time the data was processed and analysed, it often ended up being irrelevant as the scenario on the ground had changed completely in the interim. Armed with the digital application, women in the communities (> 4,500 volunteers across 900 communities in 5 states ) were able to share and use real-time data with officials/agencies. This allowed officials to take timely action and protect children from being exposed to potential harm—this was previously unknown in Aangan’s work. One such instance has been shared below.

Within a matter of few weeks of using the mobile application, Aangan was able to disaggregate data to identify about a 1,000 out-of-school children, and another 1,300 children who were at risk of not returning to schools after their reopening (schools were closed due to the lockdown). The team is now strategising ways to work closely with these families and children to ensure that they return to school and remain safe.

From our experience, we could see that community knowledge and ground level insights that have the power to create new, actionable data points were previously underutilised. With the DataOGram solution, we are now able to utilise data to their maximum potential
Chaitali Seth, COO, Aangan

Real-time data also means that monitoring field activities has become very easy for the programme teams as all relevant information can be accessed instantly from any location, and from a laptop or a smart phone. The dashboard lets the teams track the progress of a programme as well as create targeted programmatic plans and strategies. Since the teams have been able to see data and activities in real-time, they have also been able to intervene immediately and directly address issues.

Talking of using the DataOGram solution for the Aangan community and their work to move forward and create bigger impacts, Chaitali Seth (COO, Aangan) says, "The process of recovery and rebuilding in the aftermath of the lockdowns and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is going to be long and tedious, and the use of tech-enabled application to do this has never been more relevant. Giving the women-led community networks access to local data collection tools and empowering them with the right kind of training has helped create an impactful and sustainable change. DataOGram’s tech-solution let us break the isolation, remain connected, and continue our work in a more effective manner".

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