Returning from Kenya in November last year, I’m back in the US working to provide insight and strategy on Monitoring & Evaluation systems in Kenya and soon to be Ethiopia.

Living in sunny Santa Barbara, I have the luxury of being able to visit the Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Preserve which is the overwintering site of thousands of monarch butterflies.  The butterflies, up to about 50,000 this year in count, come here each winter from November until March or so.  Without their migration, the butterflies wouldn’t be able to survive.  It is through coordination, teamwork, tireless efforts and a magical innate drive that allows them to be able to survive.

Together, both our Kenyan and US-based staff have a similar coordination, teamwork, tireless effort and a magical innate drive that allow us to keep our work moving forward together.  We rely on each other to bounce ideas off of, to research certain topics, to stay abreast of trends in the field and to know the day-to-day issues that are going on with all staff.  We aren’t flawless, of course.  We have our flitters and flutters, like the butterflies, but we stick together.

Nuru has a daunting task to migrate to a new country this year – Ethiopia. Currently, with Chelsea Barabas from the leadership program and other US-based staff in the US, we are working to prepare a Needs Assessment strategy so that we can start off listening and being with the community with which we intend to work.  We will begin with a Situational Analysis, a comprehensive review of the local situation using existing data to gain a better understanding of how to design and conduct the needs assessment.  Then we hope to work with local leaders to carry out the remainder of both qualitative and quantitative data collection.  We also hope to conduct a baseline survey with the Multi-dimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) to get a general sense of the level of poverty in the area.  The MPAT can also serve as part of the Needs Assessment as well, as it will provide insight on various dimensions of poverty including Food & Nutrition Security; Domestic Water Supply; Health & Healthcare; Sanitation & Hygiene; Housing, Clothing & Energy, Education; Farm Assets; Non-Farm Assets; Exposure & Resilience to Shocks; and Gender & Social Equity.

Although our work may not seem as magical as thousands of butterflies clustered on a eucalyptus tree, like the butterflies our work never ends and we forge on to make great things happen.