Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Day in the Life: UVP Enumerators

By Orrin Tiberi, GHC Fellow

The research enumerator team is now in their third week of data collection, meaning they have collected data from 28 villages out of a total of 72. We’re slowly making our way through the villages where Uganda Village Project (UVP) has worked and control villages to determine UVP’s impact on health in each village. Each day the enumerators gather at the UVP office at 7:30 am to head out in the field early to catch potential interviewees before they move out to their fields. That is especially important now with the coming end of the dry season as many community members spend the relatively cooler morning and evenings in the field preparing for planting. Though the fields are usually within walking distance of the house, the added wait time for someone to return home often means the difference between returning at 4 pm or hours later.

UVP enumerators heading to their next house for data collection
Each team of four enumerators goes to one village, collecting information from a randomly drawn sample of 15 households that will represent the village during analysis. Julius and I have been out in the field each day with the team, getting a much better picture of the community makeup in the Iganga District and viewing first hand many of the challenges to healthcare that rural communities face. We have also been able to enjoy rural hospitality, and the whole enumeration team has enjoyed jackfruit and traditional dishes at the invite of different community members.

The research team is made up of eight enumerators, many of which have been associated with UVP previously. The two team leads, Reagan and Simon Peter, were both interns with UVP for numerous years and intern leaders for many of those. We also have a former intern, Jairus, who worked in Buwerempe this past summer.  Finally, we have a former UVP-supported student Robert as an enumerator.  
Robert interviewing a household member
UVP took Robert on as a student in our Orphan Support Program in 2004 when he was starting secondary school. UVP paid for Robert school fees until 2013 when he graduated from Kyambogo University with a Bachelor’s degree in Community Rehabilitation. Since graduation, Robert has been working with NGOs in Iganga including Uganda Parents of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and ANPPCAN where he has been advocating for and providing direct support to persons with disabilities and their families. Robert is passionate about making positive change in the communities in Iganga. At enumerator training, Robert mentioned he was happy that he could contribute to the work of the organization that made his dream of graduating from university possible. He is committed to working hard on these hot dusty days to get quality data to inform our programs.

We’re glad to work with these four young people who have been associated with UVP, as well as the other four enumerators who are showing great promise. Despite the tiring days, it’s been a great experience to interview rural households and gain a better understanding of how UVP has affected communities. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Necessity of Rigorous Research

By Julius Kirya, Global Health Corps Fellow

Before any program intervention, it's always advisable to conduct rigorous research about how to best make an impact in a given area. This notion cross cuts many different sectors. Businesses conduct research to determine how to create economies of scale. States and governments review evidence-based research before implementing large-scale programs. The research itself informs the nature of the interventions and how they will be implemented.

The success of a program in one village does not guarantee success in another. Communities differ in their topography, climate, tradition, culture, demographics, education, etc. Without systematic and rigorous research, programs will never understand these factors or be able to plan for appropriate interventions. 

Monitoring involves systematic, coherent and continuous collection and analysis of interventions and using the resulting information to determine how a program should proceed. It also helps provide stakeholders with relevant information about the strengths and weaknesses of a program's implementation. Evaluation, on the other hand, assesses a project/program to determine what impact has been made. In combination, monitoring and evaluation is greatly indispensable for the success of any intervention.

As part of UVP's impact evaluation, an enumerator interviews a respondent in Kitukiro Village Iganga

Earlier this month Orrin (my co-fellow) and I began a monitoring and evaluation process that will help Uganda Village Project reach its five-year goals. Iganga is one of the least served regions of Uganda and it is critical to implement effective programs. We set out to perform an impact evaluation survey in the Healthy villages in Iganga: we have a total of 24 "intervention" villages (those who UVP has been working with for the past five years) and 46 "control" villages which have yet to benefit from UVP programs.

Some of the concerns in the survey: Household access to safe and clean water. (Bulowooza Village)

The data is intended to provide formative feedback to UVP and develop recommendations for activities to reach desirable goals related to malaria, HIV, reproductive health/family planning, obstetric fistula, WASH (Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) and VHT training. This will guarantee strategies that will propel health care services in Iganga. 

Edited by Tiffany Hsieh

Monday, February 2, 2015

Barbara, a family planning champion

Barbara teaching family planning in her village
Nangobi Barbara has been a Village Health Team (VHT) member since she was 23 years old. She's a young woman but has a big mission, since she's also the family planning focal person for the VHT members in her village. 

As a family planning focal person, Barbara takes on the main responsibilities for family planning within the Village Health Team in her village. That means she acts as a liaison between her community, the health center, and Uganda Village Project (UVP) to inform the village about incoming education sessions and outreaches. UVP trained Barbara on basic family planning knowledge and mobilization skills, and now she's in charge of passing along information and mobilizing women to attend outreaches. Besides the skills she learned from UVP, Barbara is naturally a very good communicator and she's creative. Most women that come for the outreaches in Kazigo village say they are there because of Barbara. UVP uses volunteers like her to rally their own communities. It's much more effective for a neighbor to inform someone about an event, and so we rely on the VHT members to do most of our mobilizing.

Barbara says that she was "very excited" when she got elected as a focal person and she's very happy with her job of mobilizing women to attend education sessions. She also reports that most women had expressed interest in family planning but could neither afford to go to a private clinic nor walk the three-hour distance to the nearest government health center for services.

UVP feels privileged to work with such an efficient, reliable, and hardworking person. Barbara has been able to mobilize up to 90 clients to attend our outreaches each time we conduct them (a great turnout!) and also pass along basic information to her community members about family planning services. This is a crucial skill, as we don't have time to meet with women individually outside of the quarterly outreaches and when there are 90 attendees it's helpful to have someone else collaborate to offer a personal touch. Now 26 years old, Barbara is a great leader in her community and we're excited to see the impact she continues to have in her village.