[Guest blog post written by Tara Susman-Peña, Senior Research Officer for Internews]
We are in our last day in Dadaab; just a few more hours until our release from the barbed-wire gates of the DMO compound back into the world.
The second week here, which included 4 days of data collection and a half-day of wrap-up and feedback from the enumerators, was fascinating to watch from a distance. Stuck in the compound, unable to go into the camps to observe directly, we sent two of the supervisors out with cameras each day, and asked them to try to capture what it felt like to be in the camps. So our insights come from:
- Supervisors’ photographs of the camps, which reveal what they think is important or what they think we wanted to see. Some were really great, showing a bit of a photojournalistic eye: kids playing outside, women gathering water in big plastic jugs, survey interviews being conducted. Other photos depicted supervisors in various supervisory poses: recording in log sheets, arms akimbo at the entrance of the camp. One took about 10 pictures, from various angles, of the hired vehicle that brought them to the camp.
- The paper surveys, which diminished in number and improved in quality each day. Watch for the upcoming blog “The Dadaab Learning Curve,” which charts the use of the paper surveys and phones over the four days of data collection.
- The data from the mobile phone surveys, which we have yet to analyze, in addition to the digital data from the paper surveys. All will be analyzed together.
Some basic successes
No one dropped or lost any of the phones! None of the phones malfunctioned! Even better, not many of the refugees who were asked refused to participate in the survey. Most of the enumerators seemed, at least by the end, to understand the project. We hit, and in fact exceeded, our sample size. And despite their repeatedly voiced concerns, happily, there were no threats to the enumerators’ security.
The real tests of the pilot's success will be:
- The final integration of the data from the paper surveys with the mobile phone data
- The quality of insights we are able to glean from the survey data
- The degree to which Internews is able to act upon the information gained from the pilot, at two levels:
- Internews’ ongoing humanitarian radio project in Dadaab
- Rolling out the mobile data toolkit for real.
Some basic challenges
It is hard for interviewees understand what “information needs” are (no matter how the idea is phrased). When they do understand, people don’t seem to care much about their access to information; I don’t know that we’ve done a good enough job at making the case. Information is the glue that holds everything together, after all. But it’s hard to focus on what holds everything together when you are focused on basic material needs.
Another big challenge in this pilot was the refugees’ unanticipated reaction to a series of questions about getting information from and giving information to the government. To the people in the camps, the Kenyan government = the local police = people who mistreat and harm the refugees. Many refused to answer any questions about the government and even asked if this survey was Internews’ way of doing a criminal investigation. I surveyed the enumerators, and 11 out of 22 of them perceived these types of questions to be a problem for people to answer.
So this afternoon, back to Nairobi, and then soon back to DC, to take a step back and take stock of what we have learned here and what the next steps will be.