Voice to voice interaction remains the most effective and primary form of human communication for both health care service providers and vulnerable groups who live in rural Cambodia. Due to poor network connectivity and literacy barriers, rural Cambodians are inhibited from using many technologies. While many people in rural Cambodia have access to mobile phones, literacy and Khmer language support on mobile devices is still limited. This poses a significant barrier to using SMS based mobile applications and makes voice based systems a more desirable alternative.
Interactive Voice Response Systems and the Future of Cambodia
Voice is the most universal and inclusive means of communication, and it’s an ideal way to expand the reach and impact of health and humanitarian technologies. In September 2012, with funding from Spider (The Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions), the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia introduced and extended Verboice, an open-source tool which specializes in using interactive voice response (IVR) to support health, safety and sustainable development work. Verboice projects can start small and scale up, making it possible to improve lives even in communities previously closed off by literacy and technological barriers. Below are a few of the projects to come out of this grant.
Verboice + Open Institute & Women’s Media Centre
InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia partnered with the Open Institute, and the Women’s Media Centre to improve their outreach services which focus on women’s health, gender-based violence, and democracy. The project is to assist the Women’s Media Centre and Open Institute in implementing a series of mobile-based information telephone hotlines, scheduled advice services and question boxes for women that complement and extend their current work. Through a customized version of Verboice, women and children will be able to access on demand health information services, therefore increasing their awareness and understanding of health issues they may be at risk for. For more information on this project, check out the Spider website here.
Verboice + International Labor Organization (ILO)
In addition to supporting women’s health, we are working on a project with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to support factory workers throughout Cambodia. Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) helps to monitor and improve working conditions in Cambodia’s export garment factories.
Verboice will enable ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia to connect directly with factory workers and help them better understand their rights. Using Verboice, BFC is developing a quiz, which will allow garment factory workers to call in to the system to answer several questions related to salaries, work safety and personal health.
Verboice + Marie Stopes International
Cambodia is infamous for having one of the highest number of maternal deaths and disability in Asia. Many Cambodian women have limited access to reliable and modern family planning methods, which results in high rates of unwanted pregnancies. All too often, women believe that dangerous and extreme measures are their only options. The result is that 25% of all maternal deaths in Cambodia are the result of unsafe, unregistered and unscrupulous abortion providers.
Based on the belief that when individuals are empowered to be decision makers in their own reproductive health destiny, they are able to live happier, healthier and more prosperous lives, Marie Stopes International Cambodia helps to increase access to high quality, safe and affordable reproductive and sexual health services. Marie Stopes International Cambodia provides comprehensive safe abortion care and has the highest rates of post abortion family planning uptake in Cambodia.
Marie Stopes is using Verboice as part of their post abortion follow-up process. This IVR is used as an educational resource to ensure that women have access to more information about safer alternative contraception options.
Verboice + BBC Media Action
For the past 10 years, BBC – Media Action has used media channels such as TV and radio to improve health throughout Cambodia. Their projects have tackled maternal and child health issues, HIV and AIDS and malaria.
Funded by UNDP and implemented by the BBC Media Action, Loy9 is an entertaining and inspiring mass media campaign on TV, radio, online and print, which focuses on engaging youth in local and national decision making.
As an extension to the TV, radio and online presence, we are working with BBC Media Action to customize Verboice to support Loy9 to empower youth’s social involvement through on demand content accessible through mobile phones.
Let Verboice Support Your Projects
We believe that by creating systems that allow anyone, regardless of their access to sophisticated technologies, to participate in the conversation supports true creativity and innovation. Through voice, we are all equal.