NAIROBI, KENYA, May 6, 2015 – A regional training on the Census and Survey Processing System (CSPro), taking place in Nairobi between May 4 and May 14, 2015 is expected to improve the efficiency of data collection and management by crop research institutions.
The training of 16 researchers from three of the CGIAR International research centers the International Potato Center (CIP), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is being held at the ILRI Campus in Nairobi.
CSPro is public domain software, developed by the United States Census Bureau. It is used for entering, editing, tabulating and disseminating census data. Late last year, the United States Census Bureau released an android version of CSPro for mobile data collection.
Josh Handley, one of the developers and trainers of CSPro from the US Bureau of Census, explains that the software is in use by governments and NGOs across Africa with many proven advantages. “Moving from paper-based to electronic data collection improves accuracy because you can write programs to check for inconsistencies and errors on the spot, and correct them immediately. There is a general improvement in data quality.” Mr. Handley’s facilitation of the course is being supported by a training grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Luka Wanjohi, a CIP data manager, organized the course.
This android version of CSPro comes at a time when there is heightened interest in Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) software by various research programs of the International Potato Center (CIP), which is the premier research institution on roots and tubers in Sub Saharan Africa. Already, CIP has successfully used older versions of CSPro to carry out 8 major household surveys under the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) project and other projects under the broader Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative.
Temesgen Bocher is the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for CIP. He notes the limited agricultural research in Sub Saharan Africa and explains why every effort should be made to improve access to accurate data. “We are collecting the right information from farmers, to get quality data that strengthens the capacity of national and regional policy makers to make the right decisions on population, food security and nutrition,” he says.
The biggest motivation for using CSPro has been its strength in ensuring quality entry of survey data and the fact that it is free and can be download easily from the internet. But as Haile Selassie Okuku, one of the training participants explains, large-scale adoption of CAPI software is not going to happen overnight. “Slow adoption will not be as a result of financial challenges. There is a prevailing fear that if a data collector makes mistakes when using electronic devices, it will be more difficult to identify and correct it. Also, sometimes technology fails, and if you have no paper trail, you cannot trace the work you had done.” He says. Okuku adds, “We wish to do it but it is a big risk. We will have to go in small steps, start with a small survey and gain confidence slowly.”