Surveys and Spreadsheets

by tuftsigl
Jul 15

Brian McGough is in the class of 2016, majoring in international relations and environmental studies.  He is an Empower fellow currently interning with the Asociaciion para el Desarrollo Integral Comunitario in Nicaragua.

I have learned a lot over the past month. I helped ADIC conduct a survey a few weeks ago in the communities that they work in. We were trying to gauge residents' understanding of the social and environmental impacts that ADIC has had in the communities since it began its projects there a few years ago. I (unfortunately) spent the next week entering the data into spreadsheets.

Above is a picture of the mountains that we hiked through (from house to house) for the survey.

A bit of background before I talk more about the survey. ADIC, which is a Nicaraguan women's rights and environmental sustainability organization, holds workshops for men, women, teens, and children in four or five rural communities. Topics range from identifying different kinds of domestic violence to the use organic fertilizer to produce crops on family farms. I have helped ADIC facilitate workshops for the men about masculinity, paternity, and women's reproductive rights. This coming week there will be more workshops about sustainable agriculture and how to vaccinate chickens.

Anyway, the survey was conducted to understand how these sorts of workshops have benefited the community. It asked questions like: What impacts have you seen since you starting attending the workshops? Is there less violence in your home? Which organic farming techniques - if any - have you used in your home garden. I learned about the kind of food that residents eat in the communities, where they buy/how they produce it, and what sorts of challenges they face in doing so. I also learned about things that are a bit more "transferable" like what an NGO should/should not do in an M&E survey, where to focus efforts to achieve a desired result, what sort of information a donor might want, and that spreadsheets are really no fun at all.

Next week we go back to normal operations.  I'm excited to see what this looks like because the past few weeks (with the survey and a separate M&E project) have been a bit out of the ordinary.

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