Sarah Pannell and Learning & Innovation Team, DFID Malawi
Sarah led the successful effort to deliver a fully digital census in Malawi. This is a first for the region, and is cheaper, more accurate and quicker than peers. Sarah overcame widespread donor reluctance and a cynicism among partners that the tablets would be stolen, as nothing of this sort or scale had been attempted before.
From the outset, Sarah had an eye on the bigger picture, ensuring the tablets could be transferred to other countries. 99.9% have been safely returned and will now be shared with Zambia. The full results are now available a year before they would have been using traditional methods. The fact that there is no manual data transfer has also massively increased reliability.
Sarah identified the opportunity, showed tenacity and diplomacy in driving the project, and continues her vision as she lobbies for effective usage of the results.