How to get feedback from aid beneficiaries?

What are good ways to get feedback from the intended benefiaries of an aid programme? Can we use text messaging and other technologies to crowdsource monitoring?

VirtualEconomics is an unusual blog because it is maintained by someone in the front line of designing and delivering an substantial aid programme in one of the big bilateral donor agencies: Matt is the head of economics for the UK aid program in India.

Matt is interested
in how to get feedback from the people who are the intended beneficiaries of aid:

New technologies for crowd-sourcing significantly bring down the transactions costs for collecting and ‘mashing’ data from many stakeholders. Examples include SMS-based systems (e.g. Ushahidi’s crisis reporting), smart-phone systems (e.g. Kenyan crop insurance) and web-based systems (e.g. eMoksha’s Fix Our City). What other examples are there?

So a question for us all to consider, how would you go about designing a simple platform for the Papua New Guinea public to provide reliable feedback on whether kids have received their textbooks? What’s the best solution?

As well as Ushahidi, another promising approach is Daraja in Tanzania which is going to use SMS messaging to provide feedback about which water points are working (full disclosure: I am on the board of Twaweza which is a partner of Daraja).

With changing technology and attitudes, we seem to be on the brink of a revolution in getting information from prospective benefiaries of aid.  Do you know of any existing, working programs like, or promising new approaches?

I’ve closed the comments here: if you have suggestions, please add them to Matt’s post.