How Digital Information Systems Aid in Quality GBV Programming
Story by: Kristy Crabtree, Senior Advisor, Information Management and Technology, Violence Prevention and Response Unit, International Rescue Committee
Artwork by: Megan O’Brien, Information Management and Technology Officer, Violence Prevention and Response Unit, International Rescue Committee
Jihan had a laundry list of tasks to tackle when she was hired by the International Rescue Committee’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment program in Iraq: to interpret quality standards, develop systems to detect challenges, identify ways to address gaps, and provide technical advice and training. No small feat, Jihan immediately went to work.
She started by reviewing case management documentation in the digital information system used by gender based violence professionals, the Gender Based Violence Information Management System — known better as GBVIMS+ or Primero. She evaluated the data for service trends — a standard social work practice. She found a lot of positive service trends, as well as opportunities for improvement. One area that stood out was safety planning. Among the safety plans documented by the case management team, there were omissions and incomplete entries. With these observations, Jihan spoke with the managers of each site, and developed a training curriculum. This was a priority for her because, to Jihan, safety plans are “the way to help survivors think about and plan for their safety. Yes, case management is challenging, but we can always help survivors think about mitigating risk and finding opportunities to improve their safety.”
This review of case files was easier than expected because the team had already been using GBVIMS+/Primero. This meant Jihan could log in and review cases with all the identifying information of survivors scrubbed from her view, thus ensuring survivor confidentiality, which is a minimum standard of GBV prevention and response work. It also meant she could easily follow up to see change over time and suggest further coaching opportunities to managers.
In the past, Jihan had to travel to each site to uncover this kind of capacity strengthening opportunity, and sometimes she was unable to because of distance or conflict. But now, with GBVIMS+, she is able to review the case documentation digitally. This means travel restrictions don’t impact this part of her work and her practice of seeking areas for improvement was able to continue in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As other organizations scrambled to pivot to remote case management and digital documentation, her team was already prepared to document their cases using GBVIMS+’s secure web platform. To Jihan, it was relief. While others struggled, she thought, “This is the future, and we’re there. The impact on survivors of these information systems in indirect, but it’s there. Because of the GBVIMS+, we know where to focus our staff capacity training and that directly improves the experience of survivors.”