Developing innovative information systems for Zambian Chiefs

A community school classroom in Mukobela Chiefdom in Southern Province Zambia.

A community school classroom in Mukobela Chiefdom in Southern Province Zambia.

Client: Global Innovation Fund
Dates of service:
2018 - Present
IDinsight service: Monitoring
IDinsight contacts:
Martin Gould
Additional resources:

The Problem

Data transmission in rural Zambia is slow and informal, in part due to limited presence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Information Systems (IS) projects seeking to address these issues typically have high failure rates.

IDinsight is developing an innovative system (IS Nano) that seeks to transform the role of information collection and usage by chiefs in Zambia. The pilot will be conducted in Southern Province with Chief Mukobela, tailoring data collection to his stated information needs.

In the immediate term, Nano will close an information gap in Mukobela chiefdom, producing a high-quality and rapid data collection circuit that will enable the Chief to address challenges in a timely manner.

The pilot is being funded by the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), with the intention of disseminating learnings and, based on the results, potentially scaling-up to other chiefdoms and states. Results from this initial information system will provide insight on the value of fast, cheap, and locally-relevant data to the decision-making of Chiefs. As the Nano project is experimental in nature, learnings on cost-effective data collection methods and tenets of sustainable information systems will be disseminated to other stakeholders.

Evidence Needs

IDinsight Service

IDinsight is responsible for implementation and evaluation of the pilot information system. We will construct and operate a system that collects and displays locally representative data for modules selected by Chief Mukobela. We will then iterate on the system to improve its cost, speed, and user satisfaction.

Throughout the implementation process, IDinsight aims to document lessons to drive innovation for community-based information systems. Following data collection, IDinsight will collect qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate the success of the project using the above-mentioned metrics. We will evaluate the immediate outcomes within the context of Chief Mukobela’s chiefdom, and the broader implications of the work for IS in the region.


Results from the initial pilot are expected by September 2019. Currently, the project is in a pre-piloting phase, gauging stakeholder needs, constraints, and capacity.