The MPAT is in Kenya!  We will soon hit the ground walking household-to-household with questions to give Nuru Kenya a baseline evaluation of two sublocations where we do not yet work.  With 4 data entry specialists, 2 enumerator supervisors, and 12 enumerators out in the community, we are asking households in Kikurian questions such as the size of a household’s farm to the time it takes a household to fetch water for the family.

At the beginning of May, Alasdair Cohen arrived safely for his first visit to Kenya, introducing his years of work with the MPAT to the communities with which Nuru works to overcome extreme poverty.  According to Alasdair and the work of The World Bank, “Poverty is fluid: it is a situation or a condition people find themselves in, not a permanent characteristic.” Throughout his training, Alasdair has given us a background on the development of the MPAT. Based on Caroline Sullivan’s Water Poverty Index, the MPAT responds to the need to address poverty holistically – integrating components such as domestic water supply, gender & social equality, education, food & nutrition security.  Unlike other tools, the MPAT is aligned with Nuru’s goals and vision to address various sectors – agriculture, community economic development, education, health, and water and sanitation – simultaneously and connectedly.

To prepare for this undertaking, Alasdair held two weeks of training for our contract staff.  At first, I thought two weeks was way too lengthy.  But I now realize the longer the training, the better equipped the enumerators will be to deal with difficult situations in the field. Trying to avoid survey pitfalls like Sir Humphrey Appleby on the Perils of Survey Design, our team learned about staying away from leading questions and how to probe for more information effectively.   So far, we have piloted the survey in a few communities and the feedback is positive. Largely, households are excited the survey is in Kikurian. “Most old people grin ear-to-ear when they hear us speak in mother tongue,” one enumerator said.  Usually, when people do this kind of work in the area, they speak in Kiswahili. Not usually written or typed, individuals are intrigued and appreciative by the surveys in Kikurian. You can tell that this extra step of translation will allow for an extra level of buy-in from the community as well as comfort knowing the enumerators and households can meet and talk on the same level.

The survey is not short, however. The average time so far is about 40 minutes per household.  Enumerators say the households have complained that there are too many questions, as well as personal and unusual questions. One question asks: What type of toilet facility does your household usually use?   Another question brings up negative events, natural or socioeconomic, that could occur in the next year.  The survey is definitely not as bizarre as Lady Gaga’s facial bones – but households are definitely taken aback as it is unusual for their daily routine.

We are excited about what is to come in the next few weeks with completion of the survey and what this will mean for understanding the status quo of communities before Nuru intervenes.  According to Alasdair, the MPAT can be used as an evaluation tool or a planning tool to know which sectors to allocate resources.  We are hoping the survey will be a reliable tool to use for a midpoint and endpoint evaluation for Nuru Kenya and for future sites as well.