A shared article from the RHoMIS team, based in Bristol, UK and Quito, Ecuador. We write reflections and updates on the development and impact of the RHoMIS tool.
As 2018 turned into 2019, the RHoMIS servers continued to spin and process data from rural households around the world. We are excited to announce that on Wednesday 9 January, the total number of households in the RHoMIS database passed the 20,000 milestone.
The actual number is 21,024 rural households, gathered from 27 countries. More than just a number, these statistics represent a quality and breadth of data that allow for scientific analysis and improved and informed development interventions.
Each of the 21,000 households who completed the RHoMIS survey shared information about their family size and ages, as well as issues of gender and family decision making. Families shared about the crops they grow, the different varieties, their farming practices and the type of land that they farm. Likewise, RHoMIS has gathered data about livestock species, grazing activities, and other livestock management practices. We know about hunger, nutrition, and dietary diversity. Families answered questions about on and off-farm income and what they spend their money on.
In just 35-45 minutes, RHoMIS has facilitated the collection of this broad range of data. We are proud that the rich dataset has already given birth to more than 15 scientific papers. A growing community of practice is emerging too.
The pipeline for new surveys is positive, with new surveys launching in the first quarter of 2019 in Vietnam, Uganda, the Comoros, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. Jim Hammond, another leader of the RHoMIS tool, states: "The increasing demand for RHoMIS is a great opportunity to build a unique and powerful dataset that will help us understand the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, and ultimately to fight poverty, food insecurity, and environmental degradation."
We anticipate the usage and growth of RHoMIS to continue. This likelihood is strengthened as NGOs start to use the tool to help monitor and evaluate their projects. We are thrilled that already Tree Aid, Global Diversity and the One Acre Fund are using RHoMIS and know that such partnerships will continue to strengthen the quality and scale of the available data.
As we look to the future of RHoMIS, Hammond observes that "We have proven the approach is viable. The question now is in which direction should we plan to grow." He asks "Do we continue to provide RHoMIS users with direct support, or do we attempt to re-design the tool so that it can be a stand-alone piece of open-source software, which still strikes the balance between flexible survey design and standardised data output?"
The answers to these questions will soon become clear as the community of practice take a lead in the development of the RHoMIS tool. In the meantime, we know that reaching this milestone shows that RHoMIS is a proven concept with practical application, adding value to both scientific research and development interventions.
The RHoMIS community of practice is made up of RHoMIS users and creators from across the world. Here we share their stories of how RHoMIS is helping to record and analyse household data.