You are currently viewing Perspectives from the Mekong region with MDRI

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with researchers at Mekong Development Research Institute (MDRI), a scientific research agency in the Mekong region and longtime SurveyCTO user. MDRI partners with a wide range of international and domestic clients, including the Asian Development Bank, International Labor Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and many others on projects spanning survey management, evaluation, M&E, and applied research.

The interview below is a condensed version of our conversation with Vu Vuong, Son Nghiem, Long Nguyen, Chau Le, and Bao Ho.

Tell us about the research projects you have been working on this past year.

Our projects typically focus on one of the following issue areas: poverty reduction, ethnic minorities, agriculture and rural development, labor and immigration, water and sanitation, education, environment and climate change, trade, or governance. Key projects last year included:

Tell us more about the WEAI Baseline Survey.

The WEAI baseline survey is part of the “Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises” (EOWE) Programme. The five-year program is being implemented in Kenya and Vietnam, and focuses on advancing women’s economic participation.

The daily routine part of the WEAI survey was one of the most difficult e-questionnaires that we had implemented at that time and before that, some of our clients failed to build it on other platforms. Using SurveyCTO, we successfully constructed a working form with correctly functioning constraints. Of course, we needed the SurveyCTO team’s great support (especially from Faizan and Chris). We were grateful that the team responded so quickly and were straight-to-the-point, helping us to achieve our project’s objectives on time.

We also used complex constraint functions incorporated into the survey forms to detect and verify outliers on a real-time basis.

What are the innovative ways in which you have used SurveyCTO?

We were doing an interesting project with the Fred Hollows Foundation to understand Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) of school eye care. As a part of this project, we did a baseline and endline study which involved collecting data from 26 primary and secondary schools in three provinces, joining a sample size of around 3000 students participating in visual acuity assessments and 1040 pairs of students and parents appearing for quantitative interviews. SurveyCTO was used to input the visual acuity assessment results from teachers as well as interview respondents.

Any advice for other users?

Our partner clients are often interested in seeing the data in real-time and we are easily able to implement this through SurveyCTO’s data publishing features, which allow us to publish data directly into Google Sheets. We also use the case management and pre-loading data features, which are very helpful.

Photos courtesy of MDRI

Chris Robert


Chris is the founder of SurveyCTO. He now serves as Director and Founder Emeritus, supporting Dobility in a variety of part-time capacities. Over the course of Dobility’s first 10 years, he held several positions, including CEO, CTO, and Head of Product.

Before founding Dobility, he was involved in a long-term project to evaluate the impacts of microfinance in South India; developed online curriculum for a program to promote the use of evidence in policy-making in Pakistan and India; and taught statistics and policy analysis at the Harvard Kennedy School. Before that, he co-founded and helped grow an internet technology consultancy and led technology efforts for the top provider of software and hardware for multi-user bulletin board systems (the online systems most prominent before the Internet).