In resource-poor facilities, many field operations continue to rely on paper-based recording systems for their data gathering and analytics processes. This manual method can be inefficient and ineffective and often leads to errors such as duplication of records and difficulties in both extracting and understanding the collected information. These gaping data holes limit the decision-making abilities of active stakeholders and can catalyze poor health within the most vulnerable communities. This effect is further multiplied in countries declared as official UN emergencies, which are often ravaged by complex issues related to hunger and food security.
CODA (Conditional On Demand Assistance) is a digital solution designed to simplify and streamline nutrition programme guidelines and to record individual data. Using a mobile device and a durable smartcard, CODA replaces paper-based records to ensure individual information can be recorded, tracked, and monitored at an individual level. The goal is to empower users to provide better assistance to people and to enable stakeholders to make informed decisions through near to real-time data.
CODA fills a gap commonly identified in WFP operations related to case management, identification of people in need, optimization of resources, and informed decision making. The service is composed of both operational services and the digital product, to ensure that the right community receives the right assistance at the right time.
Technological transformations, while often beneficial for the world at large, can leave the digitally illiterate further behind. Enter CODA, which makes sure humans are always kept at the center of the solution’s design. In this way, front-line workers are empowered to better serve beneficiaries and stakeholders are able to make better-informed decisions through access to real-time data.
Through CODA, complex programme-specific assistance eligibility parameters are combined with simple, accessible and affordable technology to tackle critical issues in real-time.
With only a mobile device, a smartcard and a proprietary application, beneficiary information is recorded, tracked and monitored on an individual level, both on- and off-line, making it ideal for remote settings. Whenever network connectivity is achieved, information is automatically synced to a cloud-based platform where all personal data and information is secured in accordance to UN standards.
CODA builds off WFP’s existing beneficiary and transfer management platform, SCOPE, merging identity management with programme management. CODA differs from SCOPE, however, as CODA has been specifically designed to meet the individual programmatic needs through its ability to address cases at an individual level (versus that of an entire household).
First things first! CODA maximizes programmes which meet at minimum one of the following criteria:
- The beneficiary needs to meet a set number of requirements;
- Continuous assessment is a must for eligibility; and/or
- Distribution of assistance is instant.
With CODA, we understand that not all programmes are alike. Programmes vary from country to country and sometimes from region to region.
Customized for each use case, CODA digitizes any programmatic guideline and defines the assistance eligibility variables, taking into consideration all possible variables. Upon entry into a programme, each registrant is given a personal smartcard that must be brought to each consecutive related activity (such as a nutritional check-up).
Frontline workers use the digital application in the field to collect and/or update beneficiary information for the entire lifecycle of the programme. Based on the predetermined parameters and the personal information input, assistance is automatically computed. No two beneficiaries are alike, and with CODA the assistance they receive is as individual as they are!
Moving from a paper-based to a digital system increases programme efficiency by minimizing human error and the time-consuming processes of manual data entry, analysis and reporting. The benefits of using CODA goes beyond this and includes:
- Improved targeting: Frontline workers have access to real-time information on a registrant’s status, even offline. Full-cycle programme assessment allows for personal follow-ups when an individual does not return for assistance, ensuring no one is left behind.
- Enhanced programmes: The solution provides an aggregated overview of the programme’s progress to guide and improve decision-making and enable course correction, which can be further enhanced through the triangulation of data from WFPs SCOPE or national information systems.
- Reduced errors and time: CODA minimizes the time spent on manual data entry, analysis and reporting, while adding durability and security to existing records.
- Offline functionality: Information can be recorded offline, meaning users can reach even the most remote locations with poor or no connectivity. Whenever connectivity becomes available, collected data can be synched to the platform.
- Adaptable: Programmes change from time to time. The application is customized to meet programme-specific parameters and needs.
Teresa is a young and vibrant woman who lives with her children in the Loputuk village, in Moroto, Uganda. A couple of years ago, one of Teresa's five children was enrolled in the Government’s Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) Programme. With support from WFP — but mostly through Teresa’s determination — her daughter, Sylvia, recovered and was discharged as cured, never to return.
It was at that moment that Teresa knew her actions could make a difference; that she could become an active agent of change and save lives by helping other mothers fight such a distressful battle. Ever since, Teresa has been sharing her experience and transferring her knowledge to afflicted mothers through community training sessions in which she explains the “whats” and “hows” that will help children overcome acute malnutrition diagnoses.
In one of the sessions, Teresa announced the introduction of WFP’s SCOPE CODA solution as one of the whats and hows. The message was positively received by the community’s caregivers. A spontaneous round of applause exploded right after Teresa said SCOPE CODA smartcards could replace all the current paper booklets by digitally storing CMAM records. She explained that SCOPE CODA is a much more practical way to carry and store information, especially during rainy season, given that the paper booklets are often damaged by water.
Simple tech for complex programmes is CODA’s specialty. To prove this concept, its first use case sought to disrupt hunger through the digitization of Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programmes. Implementing this innovative approach in largely remote health facility settings allowed frontline workers to record information, track each registered individual’s nutrition and health status, and identify when a person has recovered and indicate whether the treatment has been successful.
The digitization of CMAM has allowed for the reliable, accurate and timely transmission of records, and functions in remote locales with low bandwidth, poor connectivity and/or lack of electricity. Field managers (including those stationed in WFP’s most challenging environments) use CODA to assess and optimize operations and programme performance in real-time, more easily generating reports.
In addition, seamless referrals between programme components help to reduce the number of instances in which individuals’ data are lost in the transition between systems, catalyzing an upswing in recovery rates.
The version of CODA (CODA 1.5) currently deployed for CMAM has thus far been adopted in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, with its impact having reached more than 60,000 WFP beneficiaries as of February 2021 across over 160 health points. Collective learnings and results will support the continued roll-out to additional priority countries. On the horizon, the team has an ambitious goal to digitize all CMAM programmes for the 51 million children affected by malnutrition. But this is just the beginning.
2022 saw the start of development of CODA 2.0 to get it ready for testing in 2023 as an open-source solution/digital public good. The predecessor CODA 1.5 which was active in 6 countries at the end of 2021 was scaled down to three countries whilst waiting to complete CODA 2.0 development which would then be scaled to more countries. Despite scaling down to 3 countries, both the number of beneficiaries and number of health facilities implementing CODA 1.5 rose.
While malnutrition programming has been the first use case for CODA, it will most likely not be the last. While continuing to strengthen the product, work will progress towards enhanced engagements with additional programmatic areas and field-level operations.
For countries in which CODA has an active presence, it has already played a key role in the bid to strengthen the quality of national information systems, and has the potential to eliminate the need for parallel data entry and reporting mechanisms, in addition to providing timely evidence-based data to inform and support policy and programmatic decision making at all levels of the system. Moving forward, CODA will continue to be molded around programme-specific eligibility parameters, to ensure that the assistance provided to each beneficiary is as individual as they are!