Kidogo Kidogo: the lost files

Hello again!

Despite being back in the US for 2 months now, I realized as I was wrapping up some follow up to our pilot that I never posted a couple of my blog posts due to challenges with my internet modem and a hectic closing week in-country. Well, better late than never – enjoy!

In other news, the project continues to move forward, and we are currently preparing to roll out phase two and conclude our pilot survey in the coming days.

 

June 27, 2014

In an ideal world, I would be reporting today that we have concluded our baseline survey implementation. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. The stars all finally aligned on Monday morning, and we had a window where everyone’s schedules were free to put the surveys in the field. At 6:30 AM, however, the gods of field work stopped smiling on us. When I went to load the final version of the survey onto our tablets, I found that the app we are using to run the surveys had crashed. With no customer service and a 7 hour time gap regardless, there was not a lot that could be done until the server went back online. After about three hours of trying to find an alternative course of action, I had to send the team home and call off day one. An unexpected hurdle, to be sure, but we pushed on. In the afternoon, we got the surveys loaded, and Tuesday morning the team finally reached the field. After some initial logistical challenges, the surveys went underway, and we interviewed the first 20 women on our list without issue. Things seemed to finally be on track for a smooth implementation.

Then we got to Wednesday.

The enumerators arrived in the next village on our list Tuesday night so they could start first thing in the morning and take a big chunk out of the remaining sample. As they started interviewing women, however, they began to find a strange result. Of the 30 women in the village who were on our list, only 2 of them didn’t have cell phones. Apparently something had been lost in translation with the loan officer, and he failed to recruit women with the most essential criteria for eligibility. So with our tails between our legs, we pulled the team from the field yet again. Yesterday and today, I have been working with the branch managers at FINCA to screen the women on our lists again and make sure that none of them have cell phones. This is a laborious process, and we now have to put the survey on hold until Tuesday. Despite these frustrations, this has been a valuable process of learning how to work with partner organizations and coordinate across multiple sectors, and hopefully we are all finally on the same page.

 

July 6, 2014

Well, my time in Tanzania has come to a close faster than I anticipated. As I get ready to turn over the reigns on this project to Raychel Schwartz, I feel as though I should give you all an update on our progress. After several further challenges in the recruitment of our sample, we managed to survey and enroll close to 70 women for our study. While this is short of our initial goal of 100, we felt it was best to stick to a smaller sample given the logistical challenges we were facing and our budget and time constraints. The sample is comprised of women from three FINCA branches surrounding Dar, the farthest being about 4 hours from the city by public bus. Professors Nielson and Roessler randomized our results and assigned the women to treatment and control groups, and at the end of the week we began to roll out our treatment distributions. Finding the selected group of women has once again posed a challenge, as they don’t have cell phones on which to be contacted, but between the assistance of the local government clerks, provided contact numbers, and a few adventures off the beaten path, we managed to distribute phones to the treatment group of the women in the Magomeni branch. Early this week Raychel will work with our enumerators to finish the distributions to the other two branches. Now that the study is in the field, we have a chance to prepare for phase two and review our procedures while we wait to carry out the endline surveys. Moving forward, it will be exciting to see the results of this ambitious undertaking and push forward with the scaled up version. Signing off from Dar one last time – America here I come!

-Tim Wright