Aroehan: Facilitating the development of tribal communities and rural poor by increasing access to resources

Posted on:April 21, 2021

Aroehan (Action Related to the Organization of Education, Health and Nutrition) was born as a field action project in 2006 with a mission to transform the lives of the tribes and poor. They work towards uplifting tribal communities and the rural poor by improving access to essential resources to bring about a meaningful change in their lives. With an integrated approach to community development, they focus on the following areas: water conservation and livelihood, health, education, and good governance.

They work with communities across the Mokhada, Jawahar, Dahanu, and Palghar blocks of the Palghar district in Maharashtra.

One of Aroehan’s health programs is focused on maternal and child health. Covering 100 hamlets in the Mokhada block of Palghar district, the initiative aims to reduce malnutrition in women and children by sensitizing them to healthy lifestyle behavior. This is done by creating awareness on the importance of reproductive health and promoting early child care practices in the first 1000 days. The interventions that follow cover ante-natal care, postnatal care, checks for nutritional status and immunization, breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, diet recall, and anthropometry.

The Challenge

Aroehan’s objective was to improve the process of tracking beneficiary data and monitoring follow-up interventions and thereby reduce the time spent. The ability to measure outcomes and impact effectively was also an important aspect. Additionally, since the communities that they work with are in areas with no or poor network connectivity, Aroehan was looking to ensure seamless data collection even when field teams were offline.

“We collect data on pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children for this program. Earlier, we used to collect it in hard copies and it was very hectic. We had to carry a bunch of forms to conduct the surveys. Also, we had to collect the data, fill it out in Excel, and then analyze it. Sometimes, data was not filled in accurately and that created a problem.”, explains Kaustubh Gharat, Project Manager, Aroehan.

Previously, data cleaning was a great problem. Then, while adopting other software, we had some limitations at the beginning, so we switched to paper forms again because the solutions were not so user-friendly. Field teams had to go through the forms again after collecting data and the project officers had a challenging time cleaning and refilling the data. Data collection is very important for any project because it helps with surveillance, implementation, and learning from the outcomes and impact and make need-based corrections
Shubalakshmi Iyer, COO

In the process of looking for data management solutions, Aroehan learned about Dataogram and decided to partner with them.

The Impact

Given that health-seeking behavior among tribal communities is influenced by various social and cultural beliefs, nudging them to adopt important health practices is no easy task. Advocating and ensuring positive outcomes during pregnancy and after delivery for 1000 days requires consistent and organized monitoring of the mother and child’s health.

Aroehan is now equipped to do the above with a simple mobile application.

Dataogram’s app makes it very easy to collect, save and submit data. Now for surveys, we just carry a mobile phone, speak to the beneficiaries and submit data. It has helped us save a lot of time during the project and is an environment-friendly solution. Earlier we took many copies of the forms but for our recent projects, we did not have to and have been able to save trees. The other positive aspects are that it is user-friendly and available in local languages. Also, the team is always available to help
Kaustubh Gharat, Project Manager

1. Wider reach through organized household identification

The team is able to identify the relevant households and capture each beneficiary’s basic details and health information systematically. Mapping beneficiaries to the relevant Anganwadis (child care centres) and recording their details has helped in the process of increasing access to the Integrated Child Development Services. Their usage of services under various government schemes is also recorded to understand the level of participation in the public healthcare system . This structured approach has enabled the team to scale its efforts and reach a greater number of people. “We have been able to cover a huge population on a cost-effective database platform,” says Shubalakshmi Iyer, COO.

“It is very easy to fill in the data because of the different options we have made available for each question. We can move from one section of the form to another smoothly. The field teams are very happy with it and have found it very helpful.”, says Kaustubh Gharat, Project Manager.

Dataogram’s app has solved many of the problems caused by the paper forms. It helps compile the data collected by all the Program Community Mobilizers
Suryakant Gavit, Program Community Mobilize

2. Ability to conduct a longitudinal study

Aroehan has been able to monitor each beneficiary’s progress in health over time by regularly updating the information on their nutritional status, immunity, and overall health. Tracking longitudinal data helps analyze how a person’s status has evolved.

Dataogram made us a customized software wherein our interventions could go on for a long time. Maternal and child health is an ongoing and dynamic aspect. It is not static such that you can collect data, view the dashboards, and analyze it in one go. Longitudinal tracking has been very helpful
Shubalakshmi Iyer, COO

As a result, the team has been able to successfully measure individual outcomes and the overall impact of the program.

3. Timely implementation of follow-up interventions

For pregnant women and lactating mothers, data on the usage of ante-natal and post-natal care services respectively are recorded at regular intervals. Any unusual symptoms associated with pregnancy, completion of health tests, amount of rest, and usage of government schemes are also tracked. Similarly, for children, data on immunization, nutrition routine, anthropometric measurements, and disabilities, if any are monitored. Dashboards for different beneficiary types- pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children, helped analyze both broad trends and nuances at an individual level. This helped the team plan and execute appropriate interventions at the right time.

“Once field teams enter the data, they can revisit the forms and re-enter the same aspects again for follow-up interventions. That was one great aspect. The dashboards are user-friendly and help us find out how many interventions have taken place on the field. If the data is skewed or some numbers are repeated in the population, we can compare the dashboards with the data from the National Family Health Survey. Data skewing and outliers can be found out using the dashboards. ” explains Shubalakshmi Iyer, COO.

We are now able to see an overview of the data- our current status and the areas we need to look into. If we notice that diet is not being taken properly by pregnant women, then we concentrate on that aspect and work on it It was like the data was talking to us in real-time
Kaustubh Gharat, Project Manager

With a user-friendly mobile application, Aroehan has been able to efficiently reach out and engage with women and children to work towards improving their health and well-being in the long run. Access to robust, actionable insights and a systematic process of measuring outcomes and impact has helped the team implement the initiative smoothly.

Summarizing the experience, Shubalakshmi Iyer, COO says, “On the whole, the Dataogram package is very good. Thank you for helping us with software that is user-friendly and cost-effective. Another aspect I’d like to mention is the language- it is available in Hindi, Marathi and can be customized in any other language. Once we train our team on marking the fields, they have not come back again with corrections on data collected. The Dataogram team has been helping with new developments that come up on a daily basis and have been in constant touch with the project team, helping the data entry operators. People working with mobile data and software can definitely try out Dataogram.”