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My Experience with the P3 ENGAGE Africa Mentoring Program and Attending an Impact Evaluation Workshop

Happyness Nyaborogo Navigating the complex journey of a PhD requires more than just academic skill, it demands a strategic balance of coursework, research, and teaching duties, all while safeguarding one's mental health. I started my PhD studies while continuing to work full time, and I realized the invaluable role of mentorship and networking in helping to achieve my academic goals and facilitating my professional growth. AIR’s Pipeline PartnerShip Program (P3) is providing critical support in these areas.


The P3 ENGAGE Africa mentoring program came at the right time, as I was lacking guidance on my research journey. The program aims to support graduate students in exploring diverse career paths in research and evaluation, and research-to-practice. This program matched me with a mentor with expertise in health economics similar to my research interests. From the moment our mentorship relationship began in July 2023, I found myself on a transformative journey guided by my mentor’s wisdom and experience. This mentorship has played a crucial role in helping me further my PhD research, as well professional development opportunities through facilitating my participation in activities related to on-going impact evaluation in my country (Tanzania). The P3 ENGAGE program provided me with rigorous training in impact evaluation, conducted by leading experts in the field, right here in Tanzania.

 

My mentor provided guidance and direction by helping me narrow down my focus and outline a clear path for my proposal. Also, she shared her expertise and experience which helped me improve my research skills and develop a deeper understanding of my topic. Apart from that, she encouraged me to explore new ideas and approaches, ultimately making my proposal stronger. Through my mentor's connections, I was able to connect with other experts in my field and access valuable resources. This networking opened up opportunities for collaboration and exposed me to new perspectives that enriched my proposal. Perhaps most importantly, my mentor provided unwavering support and encouragement throughout the ups and downs of the dissertation process. Her belief in my abilities kept me motivated, even when things got tough. In terms of my academic journey, this mentorship has been instrumental in helping me successfully navigate the challenges of completing my PhD thesis. With her guidance, support, and expertise, I was able to overcome obstacles and improve my research proposal.

 

Networking and professional development were other goals that I wanted to achieve through this mentorship. I took steps towards achieving these goals when my mentor invited me to participate in a two-day writing workshop for the Stawisha Maisha (Nourishing Life) impact evaluation project on which she was one of the co-Principal investigators. The impact evaluation is a mixed method, longitudinal evaluation with a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) design. It is being led by researchers from EDI Global, Policy Research Solutions (PRESTO), and Empathea, in collaboration with UNICEF Tanzania and the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF). Through this event, I was able to put into practice skills I learned at the P3 ENGAGE impact evaluation training, gain a deeper understanding of impact evaluation methodologies, and have opportunities to network with stakeholders who commission research in my country. The workshop connected me with professionals from Government and UNICEF as well as local and international researchers. Additionally, I learned how the impact evaluation study is conducted from the beginning to end in a collaborative manner. Reviewing and editing the baseline report during the workshop highlighted the in-depth process of interpreting findings and report writing post-fieldwork, inspiring my passion for impactful research.

 

Having attended the impact evaluation writing workshop, I recognized the importance of building national capacity for impact evaluation in Tanzania. With ongoing government projects across sectors, there is a pressing need for rigorous evaluations to measure their societal impact. Through initiatives like P3 ENGAGE Africa mentoring program and the Stawisha Maisha impact evaluation, we can enhance national capacity and pave the way for evidence-based policymaking.

 

Additionally, through the workshop experience, I have also developed more interest in the Stawisha Maisha intervention and integrated social protection. This experience has opened up my mind to new ideas of future research that I can do on health economics as well as ideas to conduct impact evaluation studies in the future.

 

As I continue my PhD journey, I am inspired by the possibilities that lie ahead. The insights gained from mentorship and networking have fueled my passion for research and equipped me with the tools to make meaningful contributions to my field. With each new connection and collaboration, I am reminded that the journey may be challenging, but with the right support system, the possibilities are endless. About the Author

Happyness Nyaborogo is an Assistant Lecturer in the Statistics Department at the Eastern Africa Statistical Training Center and a PhD student in Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Her research examines health insurance uptake among informal sector workers in Africa. She currently participates in the P3 ENGAGE Africa Mentorship Programe, which is part of the AIR Equity Initiative's Pipeline Partnership Program (P3).

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