Sunday, April 24, 2011

A high-tech Saturday with the counterparts.

Raul and me were present in the DRC from July to December to train the teams, and prepare and launch the evaluation. However, with almost 100 people in the field for over a year continued supervision and technical support is necessary. Unfortunately, it is difficult to do this properly all the way from New York City. We therefore introduced 'counterparts' to replace Raul and me when we left in December. These counterparts had to be graduate students, interested in development, interested in doing a PhD, and a million other criteria. We found Deo for Raul's southern provinces (Haut Katanga and Tanganyika) and JP for my northern provinces (Sud Kivu and Maniema). In the months before our departure Raul worked closely with Deo in Lubumbashi and I did with JP in Bukavu. Raul and me learned a lot from them, and we thaught them about statistics, causal inference, how to use particular computer programs, how to manage teams, etc. JP and Deo are now an indispensable part of the evaluation, and Columbia University's ears and eyes on the ground.

The evaluation is technologically very heavy. In each province we at least two laptops, tens of PDAs, tens of solar chargers, satellite phones, GPS devices, cameras, etc. The surveys are conducted on PDAs for four reasons:
  1. Data is immediately saved to a database which allows us - with computer code that we wrote - to check the whether enumerators are doing all the surveys, but also whether they are filling out the questions correctly or not;
  2. There is a higher quality of survey filling out by the enumerators because we can restrict enumerators' options in a PDA;
  3. It avoids carrying around piles of paper by the enumators;
  4. We save part mother nature by not having to print (literally!) 100,000s of pages.
Because I am only for three weeks in the DRC only two provinces were visited: Maniema and Sud Kivu. As a result, Deo from Lubumbashi joined JP and me in Bukavu to work together. Also last Saturday we worked together. We spent a day checking all the laptops and PDAs. It was a fun sight. At a certain point we had 11 computers up and running: some checking virus definitions, other defragmenting, others downloading forms to PDAs, etc.

Fig 1. JP and me together in the TUUNGANE office.

Fig 2. Deo working on three laptops at the same time (he did not
do this for the picture).

No comments:

Post a Comment