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‘They Could Be My Little Sister’ A Passion for Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition in Tanzania

Sarafina Safari and Natasha C. Allard After an immersive, hands-on week and a half of quantitative interviewer training, we walked into a rural village about an hour outside of Bukoba, Tanzania. We—a group of research team members and enumerators—chatted about how long the enumerators had been working with EDI Global. One enumerator shared that this was her sixth data collection contract and she was especially excited since the project for which we were collecting data to evaluate, Stawisha Maisha, was centered around her personal passion: improving child health in rural Tanzania.

Two enumerators measure a child’s height

“The people we interview remind me of my family. I grew up a village just like this. I know how much it meant when we received attention and resources from international organizations. I want to be part of helping these kids have the best possible chance in life … they could be my little sister.”

Her commitment to data collection is not a rarity; many enumerators working with EDI Global shared that they have doing this work for close to a decade. They see it as a great way to apply their skillsets and university education to doing something impactful for the country they grew up in. And from the research side, we wouldn’t be able to do it without them.

The evaluation of Stawisha Maisha is mixed method, leveraging both quantitative and

qualitative data. PRESTO and EDI Global (together with our qualitative research partner, Empathea) are dedicated to creating an inclusive, synergistic collaboration between

organizations investing in international research and the communities we work with.

PRESTO, EDI Global, UNICEF, and TASAF personnel and interviewers pose for a group picture, Bukoba, Tanzania

This is why EDI Global and Empathea take special care in selecting, training, and retaining interviewers dedicated to producing the highest quality data. The interviewers perform a variety of data collection activities, ranging from weighing children to interviewing caregivers. Each task requires soft and hard skills, such as the ability to develop a rapport as well as navigate complex questionnaires and operate measuring equipment in a standardized way. For Stawisha Maisha, data collection is critical to evaluating the impact of the program.

About Stawisha Maisha

Stawisha Maisha means ‘Nourishing Life’ in Swahili. Stawisha Maisha aims to improve children’s health issues in Tanzania, such as stunting (low height-for-age) and wasting (low weight-for-age), through cash transfers and a social behavior change & communication radio program for mothers. The program is implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), through a social behavior change and communication radio program for caregivers layered on top of the national flagship social protection program, the Productive Social Safety Net, which includes cash transfers and other programming. PRESTO, EDI Global, and Empathea are leading the impact evaluation of Stawisha Maisha, with support from UNICEF Tanzania and TASAF.

What is an impact evaluation?

An impact evaluation is a type of research that uses rigorous methods to determine what changes in outcomes can be attributed to a specific program or policy (in our case, Stawisha Maisha).

About the Authors

Sarafina Safari is a Data Quality Officer for EDI Global, based in Bukoba, Tanzania. She has worked with EDI for more than a decade and is extensively experienced in high quality data collection. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Project Planning Management and Community Development from Dodoma University.

Natasha C. Allard, MBA is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo. Her research focuses on health communication, global health, and health behavior change. She holds a Masters of Business Administration and has worked for 9 years in health communication management and health communication consulting roles.

The opinions expressed in this blog belong to the authors and do not represent institutions with whom the authors are currently or formerly affiliated.

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