Introduction to AfSIS Enumerator Training

by | September 1, 2011
Category: Blog

Over the next two weeks, we will be posting observations on different aspects of the enumerator training conducted Aug 17-19 and 22. This post serves as an introduction.

Upcoming topics will include:


The Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) ICT4Ag team recently conducted training for the five individuals who will be serving as enumerators for the upcoming agricultural survey. The survey is the first part of a larger agriculture information toolkit that AfSIS and Columbia University staff are currently designing.

The Trainers

Wilbert Simbila, an AfSIS field technician, conducted the majority of the training in Swahili, including an extensive discussion of the survey, its purpose, and each survey question. Eric Couper, the AfSIS ICT & Agriculture Coordinator, covered the more technical aspects of the work, including an introduction to the devices and the use of Locus, the tool being used for navigation.

Philoman Mushi, from the Seliani Agriculture Research Institute (SARI)[1], supported the training by leading a discussion around the appropriate (and inappropriate) ways to approach a rural Tanzanian home.

Our Enumerators

Four of the enumerators are agricultural extension officers in the area that being surveyed. They all speak the dominant language, Kiswahili, and all have agricultural training and experience working with the communities in the survey area. Most have conducted paper surveys in the past, but their technological experience of the group is very limited. A conscious choice was made to work with agricultural extension workers despite their lack of experience with technology because (1) it is possible to train them adequately, (2) we want to work with the Ministry of Agriculture whenever possible, and (3) the extension officers are already known and respected in our research area.

A very large percentage of Tanzanians speak Kiswahili, but we are working with a predominantly Maasai population, and there are Maasai who do not speak any Kiswahili. We thus selected a fifth enumerator for his ability to speak the non-dominant but commonly-spoken Maasai language.

The enumerators range in age from approximately 25 to 55. No one had ever used a map prior to training.

Our Devices

We are using both mobile phones and tablets, so that we can observe the strengths and weaknesses of each:

The Training

Our training covered:

  1. The survey
  2. Appropriately approaching a household
  3. General use of the devices (smart phones and tablets running the Android OS)
  4. Three “tools” [2]that will be used:

In preparing for the training, we drew on many of the excellent and extensive ODK training resources already available online, notably, the guides developed by the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center and ehealthNigeria.

[1] SARI is an institute with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture that frequently collaborates with AfSIS.

[2] The applications are here referred to as “tools” rather than apps or applications because we believe the term more clearly describes our apps. It also allows for the metaphor to extend into the device being a toolbox or tool belt.

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