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  Languages
What is mVAM? Introduction to mVAM  English | Español
WFP Calling A short video of the mVAM project, filmed in Goma, DRC.  English
We'll Call You Back  A short video of mVAM 2-way communication system, filmed in Goma, DRC.  English
mVAM for Nutrition Can mVAM be used to collect data on nutrition indicators? Kenya case study  English
Decision Tree 1 Can you set up an mVAM project?  English | Español 
Decision Tree 2 Which tool is the most appropriate?  English | Español
Decision Tree 3 In-House or outsourced data collection?  English | Español
Za Pamsika
A short video about the mVAM Free Basics pilot in Malawi

Online Course

Title Description  Languages
Remote Food Security Monitoring Online Course A free online course that aims to give a clear understanding of what remote food security monitoring entails, when it is a useful tool, and how to implement a remote food security monitoring project.  English 


Guidelines and tutorials

Title Description  Languages 
mVAM Protocol 

Creating a Protocol for a mVAM Computer Aided Telephone Interview (CATI) Deployment

English Français
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.  English 
Anonymous ID Converting respondent phone numbers to an anonymous ID  English
Operator bias Detecting operator bias  English
PowerPoint to be used to train call center operators to conduct live call surveys  English  
 Guidance on how to estimate the sample size  English
Guidelines for writing mVAM bulletins Key tips and recommendations to consider when writing mVAM bulletins
SOPs for In-House Call Center Standard Operating Procedures for an mVAM In-House Call Centre  English
SOPs for mVAM Operators Standard Operating Procedures for mVAM Operators


Example terms of reference for a remote data collection call center operator
Getting started with Verboice and Pollit How to create surveys in Verboice and Pollit  English
Video tutorial on basic functionalities of Verboice  English 
Video tutorial on Pollit  English 
Word Clouds How to use Wordclouds to analyse and interpret open-ended questions  English
Conducting mobile surveys responsibly The field book outlines the main risks for staff engaged in mobile data collection and helps promote responsible data collection /storage/sharing in the very complex environment in which WFP operates English
Using CATI to collect data on MDD-W and MAD A guide to setting up CATI surveys to collect data on Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W) and Minimum Acceptable Diet (MAD) English
Operator Job Aid Standard responses to FAQs from respondents





Questionnaires and data entry tools

Tool Description  Languages 
SMS survey form Liberia (English) An example SMS survey questionnaire in English.    English 
SMS survey form Guinea (French) An example SMS survey questionnaire in French.    Français
SMS survey submission Form (English, PDF) An example SMS household survey submission form.  English 
Sample script for operators  An example script for call center operators to follow during live telephone surveys  English 
Sample market survey for key informants An example script for call survey to key informants for market information  English
Household data entry tool  An example data entry tool for call centre operators (zipped folder)  English 
Key informant data entry tool An example data entry tool for call centre operators (zipped folder)  English 
Operator script for CATI survey on Nutrition indicators in Kenya This operator script – including MAD and MDD-W questionnaire, was designed for CATI survey in Kenya.



 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
How can chatbots help us respond to humanitarian crises? ICT Works 08/17 Jean-Martin Bauer, Lucia Casarin and Alice Clough
Our experiment using Facebook chatbots to improve humanitarian assistance ICT Works 08/17 Jean-Martin Bauer, Lucia Casarin and Alice Clough
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