Tag Archives: project balance

Gender-Based Violence Information System Design

by Stacey Berlow of Project Balance. Stacey co-facilitated a session on a Gender Based Violence Information System in Zambia at MERL Tech DC.

John and Stacey croppedA big thank you to our client, World Vision, and to Yeva Avakyan, Head of Gender and Inclusion at World Vision USA, for inviting Project Balance to participate in the recent panel sessions at MERL Tech and InterAction.

We participated on the panels with World Vision colleagues Holta Trandafili, Program Quality Specialist and John Manda, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Advisor Zambia last week (September 6-8th). The sessions received a lot of great feedback and participation. Yeva and her team put together this impactful video about the prevalence of gender based violence in Zambia and how One Stop Centers provide needed services to women and men who experience violence in their lives. World Vision works in close collaboration with the Zambian government to roll out gender based violence support services.

The Zambian 2014 statistic are compelling:

  • 37% experienced physical violence within the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • 43% of women age 15-49 have experienced physical violence at least once since age 15
  • 47% of ever-married women age 15-49 report ever having experienced physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence from their current or most recent partner
  • 31% report having experienced such violence in the past 12 months.
  • Among ever-married women who had experienced IPV in the past 12 months, 43% reported experiencing physical injuries.
  • 10% of women reported experiencing violence during pregnancy.
  • 9% of women who have experienced violence have never sought help and never told anyone about the violence.

The drivers of GBV include:

 

  • Norms that teach women to accept and tolerate physical violence, and teach men that it is normal to beat his wife.
  • Extreme poverty, high levels of unemployment
  • Women’s extreme economic dependence on men
  • Socialization practices of boys and girls in schools and the community
  • Sexual cleansing practices
  • Belief that having sex with a child who is a virgin will cure HIV/AIDS
  • Initiation ceremonies that encourage young women to be submissive
  • Forced early & child marriage

An occasionally connected system was built that allows facilities to enter and save data as well as run reports locally and when there is an internet connection, the data automatically synchronizes to a central server where data from across all facilities is available for reporting.

GBVIMS_System_Setup

A participant asked John how data collected was used and if technology positively impacted the program. John gave some concrete examples of how the data showed differences in the number of people receiving certain types of services between facilities and regions. The Zambian team asked “Why the differences?”. This led to analysis of processes which have been adjusted so that survivors can receive medical and psychological help as soon as possible. The technology allows trends to be identified earlier through automated reporting rather than having to hand calculate indicators at the end of each reporting period. As the technology provider, we were excited to hear that the GBVIMS is being actively implemented and program participants and managers are using the data for decision making. It’s wonderful to be part of such a passionate and professional team.

Data Security and Privacy – MERL Tech presentation spurs action

By Stacey Berlow of Project Balance. The original was posted on Project Balance’s blog.

I had the opportunity to attend MERL Tech (September 7-8, 2017 Washington, DC). I was struck by the number of very thoughtful and content driven sessions. Coming from an IT/technology perspective, it was so refreshing to hear about the intersection of technology and humanitarian programs and how technology can provide the tools and data to positively impact decision making.
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One of the sessions, “Big data, big problems, big solutions: Incorporating responsible data principles in institutional data management” was particularly poignant. The session was presented by Paul Perrin from University of Notre Dame, Alvaro Cobo & Jeff Lundberg from Catholic Relief Services and Gillian Kerr from LogicalOutcomes. The overall theme of the presentation was that in the field of evaluation and ICT4D, we must be thoughtful, diligent and take responsibility for protecting people’s personal and patient data; the potential risk for having a data breach is very high.

PaulPerrinDataRisk

Paul started the session by highlighting the fact that data breaches which expose our personal data, credit card information and health information have become a common occurrence. He brought the conversation back to monitoring and evaluation and research and the gray area between the two, leading to confusion about data privacy. Paul’s argument is that evaluation data is used for research later in a project without proper approval of those receiving services. The risk for misuse and incorrect data handling increases significantly.

Alvaro and Jeff talked about a CRS data warehousing project and how they have made data security and data privacy a key focus. The team looked at the data lifecycle – repository design, data collection, storage, utilization, sharing and retention/destruction – and they are applying best data security practices throughout. And finally, Gillian described the very concerning situation that at NGOs, M&E practitioners may not be aware of data security and privacy best practices or don’t have the funds to correctly meet minimum security standards and leave this critical data aspect behind as “too complicated to deal with.”

The presentation team advocates for the following:

  • Deeper commitment to informed consent
  • Reasoned use of identifiers
  • Need to know vs. nice to know
  • Data security and privacy protocols
  • Data use agreements and protocols for outside parties
  • Revisit NGO primary and secondary data IRB requirements

This message resonated with me in a surprising way. Project Balance specializes in developing data collection applications, data warehousing and data visualization. When we embark on a project we are careful to make sure that sensitive data is handled securely and that client/patient data is de-identified appropriately. We make sure that client data can only be viewed by those that should have access; that tables or fields within tables that hold identifying information are encrypted. Encryption is used for internet data transmission and depending on the application the entire database may be encrypted. And in some cases the data capture form that holds a client’s personal and identifying information may require that the user of the system re-log in.

After hearing the presentation I realized Project Balance could do better. As part of our regular software requirements management process, we will now create a separate and specialized data security and privacy plan document, which will enhance our current process. By making this a defined requirements gathering step, the importance of data security and privacy will be highlighted and will help our customers address any gaps that are identified before the system is built.

Many thanks to the session presenters for bringing this topic to the fore and for inspiring me to improve our engagement process!