Building a shared African contact database

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SAfAIDS, which stands for South African AIDS Information Dissemination Service, has been going strong since 1994. It’s a regional non-profit organisation based in Pretoria, South Africa. With support from local partners, SAfAIDS implements its programmes in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. SAfAIDS’ core activities include capacity development for other HIV and AIDS Intermediary Organisations, information production, collection and dissemination, networking and building partnerships and leadership in promoting dialogue on cutting-edge issues related to HIV and AIDS.

Through the organization’s head office and through its partners, which operate as distribution hubs, SAfAIDS distributes a multitude of publications, both analogue and digital, to a wide range of constituents. Up till now, the hubs and the head office were using individual contact databases, if any at all, to keep track of their user base. At each office, these contacts were typically managed by one employee.

Obviously, the potential payoff for merging these contact databases and giving access to the data to a wider range of users is huge. To achieve this, Baba’s projects has been working on merging the data into an online shared database at SAfAIDS contacts . net.
Using an intuitive but strict rights management system, individual users can now update their own contact information.

Some of the benefits of the online system include:

+ Removal of duplicate information.
+ Easy identification of incorrect or corrupt data.
+ Individuals are able to update their own information.
+ Easy access to the data for a wider range of administrators.
+ Integrated publication distribution tracking.
+ Integrated mailing list distribution.
+ Integrated reporting.

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Although the system is owned by SAfAIDS, it’s theoretically relatively easy to make the system self contained, turning it into a contact and mailing list manager for interested third parties.