Posters for “Experience VT” Event

This weekend I will be taking part in the “Experience Virginia Tech: Learn, Explore, Engage” event that was commission by President Sand’s to showcase the university’s impact on the world around us. From 9am to noon tomorrow at the VT Inn, I will be presenting the three posters below that document the research and main findings from an impact evaluation I led of an MCC-funded rural water supply project in Nampula, Mozambique. I plan to capture key moments from the event using Google Glass and will post some images and video to this blog and to my Google+ account during the day.

Poster_1 Poster_2 Poster_3

MCC Impact Evaluation – Final Report

Nampula_ReportI am pleased to announce the release of the final report of our impact evaluation of the MCC-funded Rural Water Supply Activity (RWSA) in Nampula, Mozambique. This peer-reviewed report provides a comprehensive discussion of the RWSA interventions, our research design, analysis approach, major findings, and the policy implications that emerged from this work.

The report can be downloaded from the MCC’s Open Data portal. This portal also provides access to the main surveying instruments and the raw data collected from the baseline (2011) and follow-up (2013) household surveys.

RWSA Impact Evaluation Presentation

IMG_1257On February 7, I was joined by colleagues from Virginia Tech and Stanford University to present the results from our impact evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation-funded Rural Water Supply Activity (RWSA) in Mozambique at the MCC’s 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Economic Analysis (EA) College. The M&E/AE College was attended by monitoring and evaluation and economic analysis experts from many of the countries with which the MCC has an active Compact.

The presentation was recorded using Adobe Connect and can be accessed by clicking on the image below. The final impact evaluation report will be available in the coming weeks via the MCC’s Independent Evaluations Catalog.


The Fieldwork Begins!

After two weeks of intensive training and a successful pilot study, the fieldwork for the follow-up study of the MCA’s rural water program in Nampula, Mozambique, began on Monday (June 10). As the fieldwork progresses over the next seven weeks, the surveying teams will undertake household surveys, water committee interviews, water point observations, technical assessments, and water source/storage testing, among other activities.

SAM_3627As usual, the pilot study proved to be an invaluable way to learn where the surveyors and team leaders required additional training and where our support team (consisting of researchers and staff from Virginia Tech, Stanford, and WE Consult) needed to provide additional support or rethink existing standard operating procedures (SOPs). The logistics associated with this project are complex and not only involve the careful programing of when and where the field teams will be over time, but also managing tasks such as how the 1,800 water samples will be transported for processing and where this processing will occur – i.e., in the field or back in our base camp. We also plan to collect water source samples in four communities at four different times during the day on three different occasions to check for variability in the quality of water over time. This type of water source testing will add a new dimension to our study and help identify whether the quality of water in these communities changes over a period of around six weeks. Another new dimension in the follow-up study is that the surveyors will use GPS devices to find the households we interviewed back in 2011. I will report back later on how successful they were at finding these households.

Data upload in the field - powered via the car battery
Data upload in the field – powered via the car battery

From a data quality perspective, we continue to advance and refine our data review and cleaning processes with our on-the-ground statistician (Marcos Carzolio). This year we are leveraging secure data transfer technology to enable the research team to view the data from any location in the world as soon as it is available. This platform also enables the lead researchers to communicate with the fieldwork team leaders as they upload the data in remote rural areas.

While the household survey is administered using PDAs, making the data easily accessible, the remaining surveying instruments are paper-based and require a different data entry and review process. This task will be managed by our in-country partner (WE Consult) given the need to have native Portuguese speakers managing the process.

In the next week, a fourth surveying team will leave Nampula and travel to Cabo Delgado to begin a study of eight small piped solar systems that have been constructed by the MCA. This more qualitative study will attempt to identify those factors supporting or limiting the successful delivery of water services via these systems. The Cabo Delgado team will be led by Emily Van Houweling (Virginia Tech) who spent a year in Mozambique as a Fullbright scholar last year while completing her doctoral research.

The above description should provide some insight into the many moving parts of this large-scale study, which is providing our team with plenty of challenges, but is also proving to be a highly rewarding experience for all involved. While our primary objective is to undertake an impact evaluation for the MCC, we hope our data will be of real value to the provincial and national governments of Mozambique and to the international community when making decisions about how to invest in sustainable rural water and sanitation services in the country.

The images below were taken during our final week of training and the pilot study.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Update from the Field

I started writing this post a week ago while flying from Maputo to Nampula in Mozambique, but the usual challenges of setting up a large-scale research project delayed my intentions. One challenge is finding/installing a good Internet connection, which we overcame by purchasing a number of Movitel USB modems that are working surprisingly well.

I’m in Nampula with a team of researchers from Virginia Tech (Eric Vance, Emily Van Houweling, and Marcos Carzolio), Stanford University (Jenna Davis and Kory Russel), and WE Consult (our in-country partner) to undertake a follow-up study for an evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s rural water program in the province. We undertook the baseline study in 2011 and plan to complete the follow-up study over the next two months.

Over the past week, we have begun our enumerator training that has focused primarily on reviewing each module of the household survey (which consists of more than 600 questions that will be navigated using logic) and practicing skills such as how to measure a child and use GPS devices (that are needed to find the same households we surveyed in 2011). Next week we will continue to refine the various surveying instruments with the enumerators (who are mostly local to Nampula) and begin practicing how to take water samples, among other activities. We will soon select our team leaders from the twenty enumerators we are training, who will each receive specific training on the various research protocols we will be using.

We have established a base camp in a house in the city of Nampula, which is proving to be a pleasant place to work/live, even if there is no water most days. There are several major construction projects happening in the city that have severely constrained the water supply that only comes once a day for several hours if we are lucky.

I have included some pictures below of the activities so far. I will post some more following the pilot study that is planned for later next week.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.