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Questions about using Frontline SMS for a World Bank Project in Afghanistan

Hello to all. My team at the World Bank is interested in developing a pilot SMS system for complaints handling in Afghanistan that could potentially be replicated elsewhere around the world (some Bank projects are using SMS technology for complaints handling, but there is no standardized approach at this point). The idea would be that project beneficiaries could use SMS to submit complaints, queries, etc and that the system would be able to respond saying that the complaint has been received, you will hear from us in X days, etc.

Do people think that Frontline SMS would be a good tool for this? Does anyone have experience writing the code that would be necessary to tailor Frontline to this type of system? How difficult would it be to write the code?

Any insights and/or suggestions would be much appreciated (as I am a novice when it comes to these types of technical issues). Thanks in advance for your help!

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Hi David

Once you've had any feedback, let's connect again and talk your ideas through. FrontlineSMS is already being used in Afghanistan, so we could try and tap into those users if necessary.

Hi David -

FrontlineSMS would be a great tool for this!

This summer, we built a tool for farmer in Niger, but the idea is still the same. For the first part, the farmer sends code for the crop's price, market and language s/he wants and receives the information. For the second part, an agent in the market sends in a code to update the market prices. For your project, instead of code, people are sending complaints. For more info, check out

You'd simply use the HTMLRequest functionality to pass the message using a language like PHP or Python to a database, a text file, etc. and then return the response to the user.

Hope this helps!

Many thanks Josh! This is very helpful information....I will keep you posted as we move forward.


Hi David,

It sounds like FrontlineSMS may work for you 'out-of-the-box' given the built-in auto-reply function, and you may not need to touch the code. If you had someone managing the FLSMS hub (e.g. updating the outgoing replies as needed), this would be quite simple!

You could export the complaints/queries via .csv files or set something up as per Joshua's description.

I'm based in DC, and happy to get a cup of coffee if I can be a resource. We've implemented a number of query-based systems (e.g. community health workers text in drug names and FLSMS returns dosage/usage information, or patients text to learn the outreach HIV testing schedule).

Best wishes,


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