From February to April 2016, the team at the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam (UvA) conducted five training workshops for the HER CHOICE baseline study. Two to three members from each of the 36 partner organisation in all 11 countries took part in these workshops, which were mostly held in peripheral towns – close to the programme areas of the HER CHOICE partners. Workshops took place in Ethiopia (for 10 partner Ethiopian organisations), Burkina Faso (with eight partners from Burkina Faso and eight from Mali), Senegal (with two partners from Senegal and one from Benin), Nepal (with one partner from Nepal, two from Bangladesh and one from Pakistan) and Uganda (with one partner organisation each from Uganda, Ghana and Sierra Leone). Local researchers, hired by AISSR, co-facilitated the workshops. Tasks for these local researchers were to support the partners in training data collectors and organising data collection, to enter and analyse the data, and to write the country report.
On the third day of each workshop, the workshop participants drove to a nearby community to pre-test the research tools. The hosting organisation in each county had mobilised the required number of respondents for piloting of each tool. Day four allowed for workshop participants and the AISSR and local researchers to feedback on the tools and the fieldwork process, resulting in further adaptations to the tools and advice on how to best conduct the interviews and FGDs. The adaptation of the research tools has been an iterative process; whereby participants adjusted the edited tools of the previous workshop to fit the particular conditions in their communities.
The final day of the workshop saw capacity building through presentations and discussions on the practicalities of conducting the baseline study, including sampling strategies and size, and data entry and analysis. Participants divided into partner organisation teams began planning the details of the baseline data collection, including how to select the intervention and comparison villages, how many respondents would be selected and how many enumerators would be needed. This planning continued after the workshops, with the support of local researchers and the AISSR team, until organisations were ready to embark on data collection.
All in all the workshops were a success; participants left with a better understanding of the research process, and the workshops resulted in a refined set of contextually relevant tools for each of the 11 HER CHOICE countries. Moreover, the participatory nature of the training, the role-playing, the pretesting in the field, supported team building, building motivation for the work ahead, and was a source of a lot of fun – as some of the pictures show.
Postscript: As of 20th August partner organisations in most countries have finished data collection. Local researchers are at different stages of entering data, analysing and writing the report.