Summer 2015 in East Africa: A Student Blog

This summer, a group of students worked with gui2de on a series of research and development projects in East Africa. As this was my first trip to the continent, I was incredibly excited to live and undertake practical development work in a completely unfamiliar setting. My first stop was in Uganda, where I initiated work on the design and development of an early childhood development project in partnership with UNICEF. The aim of this particular work was to develop a randomized control trial (RCT) that would target expectant mothers and enhance the utilization of antenatal care services as a means of improving mother preparedness, and ultimately, early childhood development outcomes. This was an exciting opportunity to engage and consult with various stakeholders and experts in Uganda including officials at the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and also within UNICEF.

My next stop was Kenya, where I would be assisting gui2de’s project team and implementing partner, Digital Divide Data, in conducting the endline survey for SWASH+, a project designed to strengthen incentives and motivate community members to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in Kenyan primary schools. This work involved creating and testing the endline survey instrument, developing a training manual for the enumerators, and conducting training sessions which included mock practice sessions with the enumerators. Perhaps the most rewarding part of this work was being able to work collaboratively with local enumerators and field teams to figure out the most effective way of conducting the endline survey.

In addition to working on SWASH+, I travelled across Kenya as part of the nation-wide launch of Zusha, gui2de’s successful road safety intervention that encouraged passengers in Kenyan minibuses (Matatus) to speak up against bad driving and ask drivers to slow down. We visited the various insurance branches that provide Zusha stickers to Matatu owners, agents and drivers as part of their vehicle insurance policy, answering any questions that the sales team had and resolving any issues that had come up.

Despite the busy work schedule during the week, we found time to travel to various parts of Uganda and Kenya over the weekends. From rafting in Jinja, the source of the river Nile, to exploring waterfalls and coffee farms at Sipi Falls, Uganda had plenty to offer in terms of recreational escapes! Over in Kenya, I managed to go on my first ever safari to the Masai Mara National Reserve, an unforgettable experience that I would highly recommend to all future interns! Overall, this summer provided an unparalleled opportunity to engage in meaningful research and development work and see some of the most beautiful places I have ever visited!