Project Lead(s): Aaditeshwar Seth
The delivery of public health services in rural areas is hindered by poor accountability and a lack of communication between communities and local government stakeholders that often results in the lack of information about good health practices.
Implemented in India, the Mobile Vaani network is a voice-based interaction platform operated by Gram Vaani through which people can call to share messages and stories.
The Mobile Vaani network (now in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh) reaches more than 1,000,000 users who regularly interact through the platform, contributing to call volumes as high as 20,000 calls per day.
Rural residents are the primary participants and the content is a broad-based combination of local news, questions, sharing of best practices in health and agriculture, and feedback on government schemes.
Gram Vaani has also built a large network of community mobilizers who are instrumental in carrying out significant offline activity and follow-ups on the information discussed on the forum.
Results from this project contribute to understanding the value of voice-based social media as a vehicle for health communication in remote and low-literacy populations.
The network reached 102,000 people as part of the Grand Challenges Canada grant and has created community empowerment, enhanced local accountability of healthcare providers, spread information and awareness of best practices in health and sanitation, and initiated institutional connections with the state health department in Jharkhand.
The project resulted in the preparation of three health reports describing critical challenges in the system.
Together with the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in India (WRAI), the project team won a grant under the Merck for Mothers initiative to run a quality-of-care data collection exercise for expectant mothers, via the Mobile Vaani voice network.
JEEViKA has partnered with the researchers to replicate the Mobile Vaani model in Bihar, through self-help-groups being established. They are also partnering with several village-level entrepreneur networks that want to operate the Mobile Vaani platform in their catchment areas.
An equity investment of $400,000 was raised in 2013 to experiment with scalability models for the network. The partnerships with WRAI and JEEViKA have further demonstrated evidence of social impact through behaviour change and collective action boosted through the project.