mVAM: Guidance on remote mobile technology for household food security data collection

So, you want to use mobiles to collect food security data? You're in the right place. This page provides a collection of tutorials and articles on how to use SMS polling software, run a call center and implement an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to automatically call households or to disseminate information to beneficiaries.

Introductory Material

Title Description
What is mVAM? Introduction to mVAM
WFP Calling A short video of the mVAM project, filmed in Goma, DRC.
We'll Call You Back A short video of mVAM 2-way communication system, filmed in Goma, DRC.
Decision Tree 1 Can you set up an mVAM project?
Decision Tree 2 Which tool is the most appropriate?
Decision Tree 3 In-House or outsourced data collection?

Guidelines and tutorials

Title Description
Phone number collection and storage Dos and don'ts of phone number collection and storage
Collecting Phone Numbers for Mobile Monitoring (English, French) Guidance on collecting phone numbers and example of mobile monitoring EFSA follow up module.
Anonymous ID Converting respondent phone numbers to an anonymous ID
Operator bias Detecting operator bias
PowerPoint to be used to train call center operators to conduct live call surveys
 Guidance on how to estimate the sample size
SOPs for In-House Call Center Standard Operating Procedures for an mVAM In-House Call Centre
SOPs for mVAM Operators Standard Operating Procedures for mVAM Operators
Getting started with Verboice and Pollit How to create surveys in Verboice and Pollit
Video tutorial on basic functionalities of Verboice
Video tutorial on Pollit
Word Clouds How to use Wordclouds to analyse and interpret open-ended questions



Questionnaires and data entry tools

Tool Description
SMS survey form Liberia (English) An example SMS survey questionnaire in English.  
SMS survey form Guinea (French) An example SMS survey questionnaire in French.  
SMS survey submission Form (English, PDF) An example SMS household survey submission form in English.
Sample script for operators  An example script for call center operators to follow during live telephone surveys
Sample market survey for key informants An example script for call survey to key informants for market information
Household data entry tool  An example data entry tool for call centre operators (zipped folder)
Key informant data entry tool An example data entry tool for call centre operators (zipped folder)

 Publications and reviews

Title Source Date Authors
mVAM: A New Contribution to the Information Ecology of Humanitarian Work Humanitarian Technology 2016 2016 Nancy Mock, Gaurev Singhal, William Olander, Jean-Baptiste Pasquier, Nathan Morrow
Knowing Just in Time: Use cases for mobile surveys in the humanitarian world Humanitarian Technology 2016 2015 Nathan Morrow, Nancy Mock, Jean-Martin Bauer, Jennifer Browning
Innovation Uncapped. World Food Programme in action. HIF Progress Report 2015, p.36 01/16 HIF (Interview with Marie Enlund)
Using mobile voice technology to improve the collection of food security data: WFP’s mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping ALNAP - Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action 01/16 Alice Robinson with Alice Obrecht

Guest blogs and news

Title  Source Date  Authors
When open is not enough: bringing food security data to affected communities The Open Data Institute 04/16 Jean-Martin Bauer, Wael Attia and Alice Clough

Monitoring food security data through mobile technology

World Humanitarian Summit Blog


Nadia Berger

Guardian Development Blog


Jean-Martin Bauer

What mobile tech innovation offers food security


2/16 Elena L. Pasquini
Not a Rolls-Royce but it gets you there: remote mobile food security monitoring during the Ebola crisis HPN - Humanitarian Practice Network 06/15  Jean-Martin Bauer, Anne-Claire Mouillez and Arif Husain
A new tool in the toolbox: using mobile text for food security surveys in a conflict setting
HPN - Humanitarian Practice Network
01/14 Jean-Martin Bauer, Koffi Akakpo, Marie Enlund and Silvia Passeri
Press 1 if you have not eaten today Daily Development  04/14 Jean-Martin Bauer
WFP Calling! Lessons from Voice Surveys in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia

CDAC Network

07/14 Jean-Martin Bauer, Marie Enlund, Silvia Passeri, Lucia Casarin
Home-grown innovation at World Food Programme DIY - Development Impact & You 08/14 Jean-Martin Bauer
The Guardian  08/14 Beth Hoffman