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Webinar 15: Using Human Resources Data to Improve Social Services: Experiences from Malawi and Tanzania

Webinar Summary and Recording

Click here to view the full webinar.

On March 6, 2014 the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted its 15th webinar to discuss the use of human resources information systems to improve social services, focusing on the country experiences of Tanzania and Malawi.

Dykki Settle, Director, Health Workforce Informatics CapacityPlus / IntraHealth International, opened the discussion with a brief overview of the need for health workforce information systems (HRIS) and open source software to be available to countries. He talked in greater depth  on the iHRIS suite of software and the growing  online community of support around iHRIS, which is a resource to share information and experiences. He also highlighted the University of Dar es Salaam’s iHRIS Academy based in Tanzania that provides training to developers and implementers of this software throughout the region. He then introduced the specialized focus undertaken by Tanzania and Malawi country teams to adapt the software to provide essential understanding of social service workforce cadres, explaining that this webinar would be an opportunity for participants to learn directly from experiences in these countries.

Evelyn Kamote, Principal Social Welfare Officer (SWO) with the Tanzania Department of Social Welfare (DSW), began her team’s presentation by providing background information on the Most Vulnerable Children/Para Social Worker Program in Tanzania. She explained the process leading to the development of a tracking system for this cadre of social service worker. She outlined the need for current and reliable data to make strategic planning decisions regarding the social service workforce, particularly for PSWs as they are not official public sector employees and thus were not captured in government human resources systems. In her explanation of the steps taken in the iHRIS adaptation and requirement process, Ms. Kamote provided clear guidance for countries considering implementation of such a system for their own social service workforce before handing over the presentation to her colleague, Rehema Kombe, Senior SWO with the DSW, to provide information on the functionalities of the PSW tracking tool and how data are used. Using screenshots of the tracking tool, Ms. Kombe described the entry portal and the types of reports that can be generated for planning, recruitment, and deployment purposes, including reports on gender, distribution, and qualifications. To close their presentation, Norah Kaaya, M&E Consultant with NIRAS and former M&E Specialist for IntraHealth International’s Tanzania Human Resource Capacity Project’s para social worker program, summed up with highlights of the PSW system, adaptation challenges, and next steps for scale up and improving data quality and use for workforce planning.

Following the Tanzania team’s presentation, Benjamin Kayala, Principal Economist with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare (MGCSW) in Malawi presented on his country’s experience adapting iHRIS to regulate the social service workforce and improve service delivery standards. He focused on the essential steps in planning for the implementation of such a system for multiple cadres within the SSW at the district and community levels, starting with developing a road map for the project and determining through an initial planning workshop the key components for the system, key policy and management questions to be addressed, types of data to be collected, and top ten reports to be generated by the system. The HRIS technical team, which consists of officers across multiple Ministry departments, has conducted a user and institutional assessment to identify gaps in required infrastructures and HR capacity at central and district level pilot sites and procured necessary equipment for those sites. A delegation of four officers attended the training at the iHRIS academy in Tanzania, which offered the opportunity to learn from other countries’ experiences. Data entry is currently underway and next steps indicate that it should be rolled out successfully to the pilot sites once final customizations, staff training, and record input are complete.

Each of the presentations was followed by a brief question and answer session moderated by Jim McCaffery of CapacityPlus. Questions ranged from specific technical requirements for launching and maintaining such a system to whether changes in workforce development and planning had been observed by the country teams since implementation. Participants were interested in further detail on how data derived from the adapted HRIS were used, by whom, and if there were plans to further extend the tracking tool to social service workers outside the public sector.