To perform a census in rural, remote Kenya visiting thousands of people in one month is my first task as the new Research Program Manager for Nuru International.  At least sweet bananas are in season.

My name is Jamie Frederick and for the next several months I will be working with our projects in Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). To read a little more about me, please visit my bio. This is an exciting time for the Research Team here in Kenya because we have just hired our first full-time local Research Field Manager, Rogonga Augustine.  Also, we have started a census of two sublocations where we will soon be performing an evaluation in May with the help of Alasdair Cohen of IFAD and the MPAT.

Rogonga is a quick learner and natural leader, and has already starting managing the census and advising our field data collectors on their performance day-to-day.   He enjoys computers, staying up-to-date with current events, and planting trees in his spare time to reverse the deforestation in the area. On his third day of work, he organized and led a training of 30 data collectors to hire for our census and evaluation. The training culminated with a test, where I learned that being “fired” here in Kenya means to be shot at with a gun, not “sacked” or dismissed from the job.  This was the most missed question on our data collector test, because I’m guessing our data collectors did not want to be killed if they were an hour late to work.

With this census, we are hoping to learn from our past mistakes, to ensure valid and reliable data.  A census of Nyamaharaga, Nyangiti, Nyabikae and Nyametaburo sublocations was performed a few months ago; however, we could not use this data because of technical difficulties with our cell phone data collection system (referred to at the Poverty Intelligence or PIN here at Nuru).  This time, we decided to use good old pencil and paper.  I’m sure better technology exists to carry out our tasks much more easily.  But given our time constraints, we will wait to develop this at another time.   Speaking of this – any suggestions for a low-cost data collection system that works in rural, remote areas?

My next few months on the ground will be focused on the development of Nuru Kenya’s research team, enhancing our program metrics, and preparing for the MPAT evaluation.  The long rainy season has happily started here in the Kuria region, hopefully to bring a successful harvest.   A Kikurian proverb states, “Enö yaahiinga ngotweere” or “What is mounting, it will rain”.  The awesome research team at Nuru – Stephanie Jayne, Gabrielle Blocher and Jennifer Lee Wagesa – worked untiringly behind-the-scenes preparing for the work I am taking on.   I am excited to help our research team grow and to collect fruitful data and information in the months ahead.