The VIACARE Initiative
So... what is the VIACARE initiative?
In a nutshell, VIACARE is a program that is aimed at providing practical solutions and responses to the endemic problem of mismanagement and corruption in international aid. Just visualise a bucket being filled with aid money and that money is flowing out through holes in the bottom. That’s the problem. VIACARE is a solution designed to identify those leaks, patch the leaks and to encourage donors to keep putting their money into that bucket!
VIACARE is an acronym that stands for: Verify, Inspect, Assess, Certify, Advise, Report, Endorse.
Broadly speaking VIACARE is a consultancy service seeking to analyse, identify and address problems within development organisations and offer practical solutions. One of the ways we achieve that is by offering our partners a customised mobile app as a tool for field workers. The app prompts them to provide thorough, detailed (and verifiable) documentation of all project activity in the field. By introducing smart phones as a tool for field workers, we now have the capacity to achieve the following outcomes:
- Deploy paperless versions of customised forms in the field so that all project activity is adequately documented. Field workers can now have access to a simple-to-use tool that prompts them to input all of the relevant data to make sure that all documentation is detailed and fully compliant with donor requirements.
- Along with form responses, GPS locations are also recorded and linked to form data.
- Likewise, photographs of people, project sites, or copies of documents can be easily recorded on site – along with video or audio content, and these are all linked directly to specific form content.
- Users can even be out of cellular network range in remote locations while using the app on their device, and then upload all data upon return to base, or as soon as they return to a network coverage area.
- We can deploy functionality to any nominated user, world-wide, on any Android or Apple smart phone or tablet.
- The VIACARE system allows Area Managers or system administrators to access all of that data from anywhere in the world via a secure web interface – instantly.
- That data can be merged with offline database information or merged with a hosted database.
- The system allows Area Managers to easily track the location of field workers – a very useful security feature when working in danger zones.
- Nominated users can be assigned different levels of access to different collections of forms.
- Previously recorded and uploaded data can be retrieved remotely in the field on mobile devices – a useful feature for monitoring progress of projects or verifying the details of individuals (sponsor children for example).
- Area Managers can remotely update, add or delete forms while their workers are in the field.
- All of the above can be done affordably for around $10 per month, per device.
The benefits of the VIACARE system are many:
- It releases and frees field workers from much of the very time-consuming and burdensome responsibilities of compiling complicated records and submitting paperwork.
- It offers field workers the ability to thoroughly record all relevant information pertaining to specific projects, in full compliance with management or funding organisation requirements.
- The system prompts, and in fact requires, field workers to enter all of the vital requested information, resulting in documentation of the highest standard.
- It reduces the opportunity for corruption and mismanagement by making transparent accountability an integral part of every-day project administration.
- Even workers that are working autonomously will leave behind a verifiable digital paper-trail.
- Early warning: Along with responsible auditing practices, the VIACARE system increases the likelihood that any innocent errors or deliberately deceptive activity will be identified early before any major financial losses are incurred.
- Allows project auditors to track and map project activity and to independently verify data – even to visit project locations independently.
- Can be used for keeping track of cash expenditure in the field, copying receipts and recording authorisation signatures.
- Is scalable: Can be used for very small projects or deployed throughout large organisations.
- Provides limitless paperless options for a wide range of staff needs: Eg: Recording travel expenses, timesheets, training forms, asset condition reports, keeping track of cash movements, request forms for time off, etc, etc.
- Saves all of that valuable data to a secure location so that even if the device is lost, damaged or stolen, the data remains secure in cloud storage.
- By receiving immediate reports from the field, and linking that information to expense budgeting, Area Managers can get fast, up-to-date information, to inform their strategic decisions on project activity.
The VIACARE initiative also offers the following consultancy services:
- Detailed organisational analysis.
- Information sessions & staff training seminars.
- Advice for establishing and maintaining healthy and productive international partnerships – and knowing when unhealthy partnerships should be terminated.
- Identifying common mistakes, pitfalls and vulnerabilities in development work, including identifying the most common methods of deception used by corrupt individuals.
- Both open and discreet field investigative services.
- Field office assessments and staff interviews.
- Independent verification and documentation of project activities and assets, complete with detailed reporting and recommendations.
- Staff training in accurate project documentation using the very latest technical solutions to improve reliability, efficiency and accountability in the field (project documentation systems).
- Certification and endorsement upon implementation of the VIACARE system.
- Independent and objective peace-making, mediation and conflict resolution assistance.
- Communications and marketing services and advice, including advertising design, publishing, web design and social marketing.
- Leading teams to Africa for practical initiation into the field of international mission, aid and development.
- Language training and cultural familiarisation for missionaries and aid workers preparing to serve in North Africa or the Middle East (Arabic).
Consultant, The VIACARE Initiative