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Who is responsible if something happens to the phone?

There are a lot of different approaches, and the right one depends a lot on the specific context. Regardless it is important to think about this in advance. Below is an outline of several approaches at a high level:

Type of PolicyDescription in TheoryIn Practice
Mobile User Entirely ResponsibleMobile user pays for the full cost of replacing the phone.The organization might say this is the policy but understanding that mobile users do not have a lot of money and they are invested in the project, might actually end up coming to an alternative arrangement for phone replacement. For example: Organization covers full cost, or splits the cost with the mobile user.
Organization and Mobile User Shared ResponsibilityCost of replacing the phone is shared between the organization and the mobile worker. This could be a 50/50 or other split ratio.  
Mobile User Group ResponsibilityMobile user pays for some portion of replacing the phone. The group of mobile users pool money to fund the remaining cost. This shared cost model might only work if mobile users are invested in the project themselves or have huge buy-in. Have seen this done by Sewa Rural (non-CommCare users) in Gujarat. Usually have to plan this in advance in your program if you want it to work. 
Community ResponsibilityThe communities the mobile users work in contribute to the replacement costSimilar to above, need to plan this into your program in advance. Communities need to be invested in your program and have buy-in.
Mobile User, Organization, Community Shared ResponsibilityMobile users pay for a third, the organization pays for a third, and the village committee supporting the mobile user paying for a third. (This village committee would also be involved in other aspects of the program e.g. managing a pool of money used to fund ambulance rides and such, as well). 


Rates of Phone Damage/Loss

There is no clear-cut rule for how quickly phones are lost/stolen. However you can consider the following points:

  • How commonly are phones stolen in the project area? Are these phones new models that are more likely to be stolen?
  • How easy is it to fix the phone if something like a broken screen happens?
  • How quickly will the phones become obsolete?
  • Are the phones only going to be used for work or are they going to become the users' "full time" phones?

CommCare User Contracts

Regardless of what the plan is for dealing with broken or stolen phones, we recommend that our partners create a Contract for their CommCare mobile phone users to sign regarding responsibility for any loss or damage to the phone.

Many examples are attached.

File NameCountryLanguageDescription
CHW Contract - IndiaIndiaEnglishSimple agreement to sign. Main text:

"I receive the Nokia 2730 phone along with the charger for the use of protocols on the field and will return it back after completion of the pilot project. I take the responsibility of the proper use of the phone and charger for the time period of the pilot."

CHW Contract - India (Hindi)IndiaHindiSame as above, in Hindi
CHW Contract - TanzaniaTanzaniaEnglishMore detailed agreement outlining rules for ownership, usage, maintenance/credit, and what to do about lost/stolen/broken phones
Contract with the ASHAs_sampleIndiaEnglishSimilar to above but tailored for ASHAs in India
Entrega del telefonoNicaraguaSpanishSimilar to the "CHW Contract - India" file but in Spanish
Final Contract for CHEW telephone - PI NigeriaNigeriaEnglishSimilar to "CHW Contract - Tanzania"

Sample of short draft

Contract for CHW telephone


Name and 'NAME OF NGO"


Telephone IDTelephone number


'NAME OF NGO" (further 'NAME OF NGO") provides you with a telephone (Phone model), charger, sim-card and telephone software to use for your work as a 'Community Health Volunteers' (further CHW).
The telephone comes with responsibilities; this contract will describe the ownership, usage and maintenance of the telephone. 
1) Ownership:

  • The phone will be property of 'NAME OF NGO"
  • All telephones have a unique identification number and a 'NAME OF NGO" inscription and are registered by 'NAME OF NGO"
  • All phones will come with a sim-card. 'Name of NGO" will register all sim-card according to the Tanzanian Law

The phone can become property of the CHW after a period of (2) year when the phone has be maintained and used correctly.
2) Usage:

  • The phone will be used as a job aid for Home Based Care work for 'NAME OF NGO"
  • The phone will be used solely by the assigned CHW
  • The phone will be used during all HBC visits following the instructions from the trainings and the CHW telephone guideline (attached)
  • The data will be sent after every visit in case of no/limited connectivity the data will be send as soon as the connectivity is back
  • The phone may be used for private use as long as it does not interfere with the HBC work. Private use credit will be reduced from the CHW's monthly incentives

3) Maintenance and credit

  • The CHW is responsible for the maintenance of the phone
  • The CHW will assure sufficient battery while visiting the clients
  • The CHW will assure there is sufficient credit for sending the data
  • 'NAME OF NGO" will provide the CHW with credit for data sending
  • 'NAME OF NGO" will check the number of data sets sent against the credit spent, the difference for private use will be deducted from the next payment

4) Lost, stolen and/or broken

  • The phone will be protected against stealing, losing and breaking by the CHW
  • In case the telephone breaks, 'NAME OF NGO" will check the cause of the problem and solves the problem if possible. If the problem is not related to mis-use of the phone, the telephone will be replaced
  • Where the telephone is stolen, lost or broken due to negligence of the CHW Then the CHW SHALL be responsible for the replacement of the phone. This will be done by deducting 'AMOUNT', from your monthly allowance till the total amount is recovered.

Please read this contract carefully, or have it read to you, and sign the contract. When you sign the contract you agree with the telephone rules and regulations 
I agree with the rules and regulations and as stated above.
Name .................................................................................
Signature ...........................................................................



  File Modified
Microsoft Word 97 Document CHW Contract - Tanzania.doc Feb 18, 2011 by 8a35e695447c669201447c6733540195
Microsoft Word 97 Document CHW Contract - India.doc Feb 18, 2011 by 8a35e695447c669201447c6733540195
Microsoft Word 97 Document CHW Contract - India (Hindi).doc Feb 18, 2011 by 8a35e695447c669201447c6733540195
Microsoft Word 97 Document Entrega del Telefono.doc Sep 01, 2011 by 8a35e695447c669201447c6733310176
Microsoft Word 97 Document Contract with the ASHAs_sample.doc Feb 24, 2012 by 8a35e695447c669201447c67325d004a
Microsoft Word 97 Document Draft of short Contract.doc Feb 24, 2012 by 8a35e695447c669201447c67325d004a
Microsoft Word 97 Document Phone Handover Form.doc Feb 24, 2012 by 8a35e695447c669201447c67325d004a
Microsoft Word 97 Document Phone Handover Form_Hindi.doc Feb 24, 2012 by 8a35e695447c669201447c67325d004a
Microsoft Word 97 Document Transfer of Phones_hin.doc Feb 24, 2012 by 8a35e695447c669201447c67325d004a
Microsoft Word Document Final Contract for CHEW telephone -PI Nigeria (2).docx Pathfinder International Nigeria CHEW clinic Contract Nov 12, 2012 by 8a35e695447c669201447c6732820098

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