Collecting real time data in developing countries.

Researchers, policymakers and development practitioners focusing on developing countries rely on accurate data. For example, reliable data is needed to design and prioritize policies and monitor progress with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Without data, policymakers and development practitioners are flying blind. So far, data is often collected using household surveys, which are costly and prone to recall bias. As a consequence, some types of data are not collected and other types are unreliable. This can lead to misguided policy actions and adverse effects on vulnerable population groups.

Time tracker

To collect better data a smartphone application called Timetracker has been developed. The Timetracker allows to record data on time-use, which is needed, for example, to make women’s and children’s unpaid domestic work more visible. The Timetracker also allows to collect nutrition data, which is needed, for example, to better target food and nutrition policies and programs. The Timetracker allows real-time recording of data with the help of simple illustrations. The real-time recording of data reduces recall bias and using pictures ensures that also illiterate people and children can use the application. The Timetracker has been used to study the effects of agricultural mechanization on the intra-household division of time-use in rural Zambia.

The potential to use smartphone applications such as the Timetracker is discussed in an article for Computers and Electronics in Agriculture: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2018.08.017. In Field Methods, the method is compared to conventional methods to collect time-use data: https://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X18797303. The Timetracker was developed by Thomas Daum and Regina Birner (Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute of Agricultural Science in the Tropics, University of Hohenheim) and Hannes Buchwald and Ansgar Gerlicher (Institute for Applied Science, University of Media). The Timetracker is open-source – the code can be accessed through https://github.com/HannesBuchwald/TimeTracker. The work was funded by the Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. For more information, see http://timetracker.cc/ or contact Thomas Daum.

timetracker 2

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