Social and Health Policies for Inclusive Growth: Training Workshop in Nairobi

From 7 – 11 December 2015, a training workshop for research assistants took place at Nairobi University in preparation of the fieldwork for the community impact assessments and the political economy analysis at regional and local level within the “Social and Health Policies for Inclusive Growth (SHPIG)” project.

The workshop was organised by Dr. Bethuel Kinjanyui from the University of Nairobi, Institute for Research and Economic Planning (IRED) and Dr Barbara Rohregger, International Center for Sustainable Development, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences Sankt Augustin.

15 participants were given a five-days training on the general research set-up, including the major analytical approaches and research questions, as well as a background to social protection policies and politics in Kenya.

A major focus of the workshop was on the different research techniques participants were supposed to use in the field. These also included participatory rural appraisal tools, such as community wealth ranking.

Participants practised acquired research techniques right away simulating interview situations in the classroom using the qualitative questionnaires on aspects of political economy and community impact assessment that had been prepared and sent to them beforehand. The simulation of interviews was a good training exercise for the participants. Moreover, it triggered a lot of valuable feedback with regard to the questionnaires, in particular regarding the content and wording of the questions, their flow and the size of questionnaires. The way sentences were formulated or questions asked was felt to be impolite or simply too complicated to understand.

The simulation of interviews also gave the participants a flavour of possible challenges they might face in the field, as their interview partners were asked to “make things difficult”. They were asking for compensation money, pretending to be unauthorized to answer questions or simply being too busy to sit down and talk. Some were not English speaking forcing the researchers to translate their questions into Kiswahili or Pokot.

On the last day of the workshop a field trip to Machakos, a rural area close to Nairobi, was organised for the participants to test the questionnaires and their newly acquired skills in a real-life context doing stakeholder interviews at county level and talking to different beneficiaries groups at community level. The 15 participants - partly university students from the economic department of the University of Nairobi and partly people engaged in community work in Kwale and West-Pokot – found this experience very useful. It allowed them to see that the questionnaires really worked and that people did understand what they wanted to discuss. It also showed them that doing interviews can also be fun and lead to unexpected findings. They embarked on their respective fieldtrips with a lot of self-confidence and motivation.

While participants admitted of having troubles in understanding issues of political economy, social protection or the community impact questions beforehand, the workshop helped them to get to grips on basic concepts and approaches that the research is using and consequently, conducting the interviews with a different attitude and self-confidence. We learned that no matter how deep the acquired knowledge on specific policies and analytical approaches is before going to the field, going to the field also means to adapt, modify and learn on the spot. Both are important ingredients for getting good quality data.

(Barbara Rohregger)


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