Notes from the field: FTF FEEDBACK’s experiences from conducting FTF Population Based Surveys
The "It's All About M&E" blog series gives you a peek into Feed the Future M&E. This month's post comes from the TANGO International FEEDBACK Team.
Feed the Future’s (FTF) Population Based Surveys (PBS) collect crucial baseline information pertaining to nutrition, food security, and women’s empowerment where FTF activities are implemented. The data is used to assess the performance of FTF activities and to inform program design, activity planning and resource allocation.
Organizing and conducting these surveys in over 18,000 households across 8 countries in 6 months was an enormous task. Successfully completing the job required clear, focused planning as well as effective communication, collaboration and teamwork. This was especially important to complete certain tasks dependent on external organizations or processes within a short turn-around. Examples include:
- Obtaining national and/or Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals
- Temporarily importing hundreds of Nexus 7 tablets for data collection
- Contextualizing, translating and programming the tablets with FTF’s standardized survey instruments
- Transferring tablet data via the internet to databases in the USA
- Conducting data quality checks remotely
- Fielding project staff for extended periods for joint training and supervision
The FTF FEEDBACK project collaborated with host-country agencies, USAID Missions, and the Bureau for Food Security (BFS) for the PBS in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Zambia between September 2012 and February 2013. Collaboration and communication were essential for a common understanding of the PBS requirements and purpose so stakeholders could anticipate and manage challenges. For example, in Rwanda and Senegal, expedited approvals were obtained because all relevant authorities knew why the PBS was being fast-tracked and knew how it would be used and its benefits. In Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, and Kenya, the national statistics offices were very flexible in accommodating survey schedule changes because of regular and candid communications about logistics complexities and the strains on project resources. Thus, when tablets didn’t arrive on schedule or a protocol had to be modified, mobilized survey teams remained on stand-by rather than starting new tasks.
Acknowledging the skills and experience of our host-country partners — and listening to their recommendations — led to changes in how training was conducted. In several countries, training was conducted in two phases. Supervisors were trained first and then helped train the enumerators. This was an effective strategy because survey teams were very large and operated in several different languages.
To improve the efficiency of future large-scale data collection efforts, FTF FEEDBACK is currently completing an After Action report to document best practices and highlight important lessons learned. More detailed discussion of these lessons will be provided in upcoming blogs.