A. Introduction

Community-based information systems (CBIS) can take different forms, but in general, information flows from the community to a centralizing system that distributes the information either to an agency that can use it to enact improvements or back to the community itself. CBIS can deal with any type of information. Common examples include monitoring the health of a community or gathering and disseminating information about agricultural prices for better market information. One specific example is a health CBIS in Kenya. The information that this system is concerned with is collecting births and deaths, environmental health (latrine use, water treatment), prevention and immunization completion, number of cases of specific illnesses (malaria, diarrhea, etc), food availability, monthly expenditures and food expenditures. The data collectors in this case are health care worker and village elders. This system uses a low-tech approach -paper surveys and chalkboards- to collect the information. Once gathered, the information goes to government agencies and NGOs.

In the Millenium Villages, a similar CBIS approach is using SMS to collect this kind of information. Health workers go to their communities, visit children and gather health information. They input this information into their mobile phones using specific codes that they have been trained to use. This goes straigth into a computer database through which health workers and clinics can have accurate records and monitor the health of patients. BBC short podcast about m-health.

B. Components of a Community Based Information System for the Millennium Village Project

Key components of a Community Based Information System might include:


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