Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Surveys and Community Visit Preparation
I spent the morning getting started with some Monitoring & Evaluation work, by going through the results of the Nest Client Surveys that were recently administered in the four Nest communities that OB works with in order to identify patterns and possibilities for improvements in the future. The survey started with some demographic information (questions about levels of education, personal possessions, family dynamics, etc.) and continued with a section on finances, specifically about any loans received both from Nest and from other sources.
The biggest take-away I gained from this work was the difficulty in obtaining valid data when it comes to administering such surveys, as well as the importance of having the surveys be administered by someone who the women know and trust in order to obtain the most honest data. For example, nearly all women surveyed indicated that their overall earnings had reduced over the past year, yet ended the survey with some variation of “we are so grateful to Nest, and need another loan as soon as possible,” suggesting that they were in fact helped by the loans. However, without accurate data that specifically validates that Nest's loans and other forms of assistance have indeed been beneficial, its difficult to continue to validate similar programs, especially to donors and supporters who want to see tangible results. Thus, over the next two months, one of my projects will be working with Andrea to analyze and improve the Monitoring & Evaluation system already in place, a project that I know will be both difficult and incredibly interesting.
Then, this afternoon, Darcy and I met with Andrea and Lety (one of the community facilitators) to discuss conducting our production guide and testimonial interviews in the communities. Lety helped us to modify the surveys we had written up to insure that the language was correct and the questions would be answerable and appropriate, and now we’re going to spend the next few days compiling packets for each community including our surveys, a list and picture of each product, and a list of all the women in the cooperative that produce each particular product. Unfortunately, scheduling our visits has proven to be more difficult than we expected (usually OB meets with each cooperative about once per month, and the women tend to be reluctant to meet more often), but we are hoping to get started in the communities by the middle of next week.
Finally, below are some great pictures (taken by Robert Eggs, owner of the historic Casa Kaqchiquel where Nest is located) of the birthday celebration we had for Andrea in OB's office. This is definitely one of the nicest spaces where I have ever worked (the pictures on this page are taking in the sala of the office, which houses the kitchen and a large community space and is where Darcy and I do most of our work), and it's also great to be part of a community of women that so clearly care about each other and about their work!