To drive lasting change in healthcare across Africa, Amref Health Africa, the largest health organization in Africa, has embraced the power of innovation and data analytics. In partnership with Analytics for a Better World (ABW), we have been given the opportunity to share our knowledge with Amref to optimize their work and internal processes. As part of this collaboration, a comprehensive Microsoft Power BI training program was recently completed, enabling 25 Amref employees from different domains and countries to harness the potential of data-driven decision-making.
The training program, delivered between March and June 2023, focused on creating enthusiasm and expertise in developing Microsoft PowerBI dashboards. This online instructor-led training included a beginner-friendly curriculum so that all participants, regardless of technical background, could participate effectively. Participants from various domains, including WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), MEL (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning) and Amref Health Innovations, came together from countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi and even India, representing the rich diversity of expertise within Amref Health Africa and their partners.
During the four blocks of the training program, participants delved into key aspects of data analysis and visualization using Microsoft Power BI, giving them a solid understanding of the tool and its capabilities. The program began with a focus on connecting to data sources, data cleansing, pre-processing and data modeling. Participants learned to categorize data effectively, laying a strong foundation for organizing and structuring information to gain meaningful insights. Through hands-on sessions, participants mastered the art of data visualization and learned the skills to create visually appealing and impactful visualizations. They explored various customization options and delved into the world of Data Analysis Expressions (DAX), which allowed them to manipulate data within Power BI. Cutting, filtering and interactive exploration of subsets of data were also covered.
Building on their basic knowledge, participants developed their skills in the second phase of the training. By exploring advanced data visualization techniques, performing geospatial analysis and mastering time intelligence features, they were able to discover valuable insights through conditional formatting and create interactive dashboards with dynamic visualizations.
One of the participants, Mihret Ayele from Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia, says, “This training helped me to meaningfully visualize raw data in a way that can convey messages without anyone having to explain them. I am currently using this software to create visualizations for ARAG (an impact study by Amref that uses longitudinal data). And recently we started developing a dashboard for the new project “Tena le Selam” that we are going to implement. We hope this will be a showcase for other projects in our office to use Power BI for specific projects.”
After the theoretical sessions ended, participants went into the practical sessions, where they were divided into subgroups based on their areas of interest. The subgroups, which included FINISH (Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation and Health Project), LEAP (the mHealth platform that trains health workers), ARAG (Amref Representative Advisory Group) and AHI (AMREF Health Innovations), fostered exchange and feedback between participants and trainers. This mentoring phase, which ran from April to June 2023, gave participants the opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills in real projects within their respective teams.
Anastazia Rutatina, an M&E Expert from the Tanzania team, talks about how the Power BI training influenced her work: “Thank you for the Power BI training. It was immensely helpful, especially for my work as an M&E staff member during the mid-term review. Using Power BI, I was able to effectively visualize the MTR results and present them to the program team in an easy way. The interactive nature of PowerBI made it easy for team members to understand the findings and provide valuable input. It significantly improved our collaboration and decision-making. The content was comprehensive and the practical exercises created a stimulating learning atmosphere. The practical application of the knowledge, especially for interim evaluation, was invaluable.”