Finding the most marginalized girls: Community mapping in Vietnam


Su is Plan International USA's Because I am a Girl Manager

If you build it, they will not come. Adolescence is a time when youth should be discovering the world around them and experiencing new-found freedoms. This is certainly the case for most boys in developing countries, and recruiting boys for programs is fairly straight-forward. We can put posters up in a community and boys will show up. This same time in a girl’s life is vastly different; she is experiencing changes and doesn’t necessarily have strong support systems to guide her through this confusing stage, and so she turns socially inward. This phenomenon is even more prevalent with the most marginalized communities of girls.

In our commitment to impact the most marginalized girls with our projects, we need to be able to find these girls to reach them and ultimately help them create lasting impact in their lives. In order to do this, we utilize community mapping to get a detailed record of the composition of a given community and so that our field teams can learn where the most marginalized populations of girls live. We also have the opportunity to gather data from each household so that we can much more easily target our programs to the most vulnerable.

In Vietnam, one of our projects is being implemented in Quang Tri, and we had the opportunity as part of the Girl Focus workshop to go door to door in one of the communities to gather this data. An exciting tool we have been using is a smartphone with EpiSurveyor and OSM Tracker that allows for simple, user-friendly data collection and makes paper surveys a thing of the past. One of my favorite features of the technology is that we are able to collect a GPS location for each data point, so at the end of the exercise are able to see the exact households we visited and the data we collected that is associated with each!