Using Mobile Technology to Create Targeted Malaria Interventions in Zambia

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Evan Brothers, Zambia Environment PCV, uses ODK technology to administer a malaria survey with the Headwoman in his village. Credit: Julie Polumbo

A critical step to address malaria in rural communities is to understand who malaria impacts. For Peace Corps Volunteers, finding the right tool to survey their host communities can help them create targeted and appropriate malaria interventions.

Evan Brothers is an Environment Volunteer in Zambia’s Eastern Province. He has a knack for technology and a passion to reduce malaria in Zambia. Using these skills, Evan set-out to learn more about how malaria was affecting his community.

Using an open-source framework called Open Data Kit (ODK), Evan built a bilingual mobile survey to perform in his community. For over 30 households, Evan asked questions about livelihood, food security, health, farming, and education. After performing the surveys, ODK allowed Evan to compile the data and make conclusions based on his findings.

Evan found that families with one or more children herding cattle experienced an increased risk to contract malaria. In this case, cattle herding represents an income strategy among poor families who also have more limited access to bed-nets and malaria education. Evan discovered that cattle herding was a strong indicator of the best households to target for malaria programs and education.

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Survey question in the local language of Nyanja. Credit: Julie Polumbo

Every Saturday, Evan holds a day camp for 60-70 youth of which about 30% are cattle herders. During the camp, Evan teaches youth about malaria, hygiene, hand washing, and other important topics. Evan’s approach to malaria work in his community is more informed and strategic due to his initial survey.

Evan’s use of mobile technology has not only benefited his community, but will benefit other communities in Zambia as a best practice among Peace Corps Volunteers.