Author: Mia Schmid

What you don’t learn in grad school

This week was the start of data collection for a new women’s artisan skill training project. We spent 2 days in the field pilot testing the survey to determine which questions make sense and which ones are either too confusing or complicated for the interviewees to respond to. Getting to this point has taught me that the realities of fieldwork can’t be taught in a classroom or learned through reading a book.   Here’s what you don’t learn in grad school:   1. What to do when your translator who

Survey design, who ever said it was simple?

Another post about recent evaluation work I’ve been doing in India. As mentioned previously, my main project here is to develop a survey to collect baseline data on a new women’s economic empowerment project. We want to collect data on women’s economic status, so that later on we can compare before and after to see what outcomes –if any– did the project contribute to. It’s a pretty cool hands-on experience with lots of challenges. I’ve developed surveys in the past, but this is the first time

Evaluation = simple windows into complex realities

Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve been working on a logic model and M&E framework for the market readiness project detailed in a previous blog post. These two documents will then contribute to a baseline survey of women participating in the project. I started out thinking these tasks were pretty straightforward. For all I’ve studied and read about evaluation, I surprised myself in thinking that trying to capture the impact of a women’s empowerment-focused intervention could be so simple and

Can we get a little less jargon up in here??

Ok I am going to get a little nerdy and academic with this post (sorry in advance to family & friends whose eyes are soon to glaze over). This week I am working on a monitoring and evaluation plan for a new women’s self-help group training. This will eventually provide a basis for a baseline survey that I’ll develop next month.   Once I created an initial draft I was asked by my supervisor to go through and remove the typical evaluation jargon before presenting it to the local NGO staff. As a

Priority #2: Designing M&E plan & collecting baseline data on women’s self-help groups

Although the blog title identifies this area of work as my 2nd priority, it is likely to be the main focus of my time in India. Self-help groups (SHGs) is a program model that grew in popularity in the 1990’s with much of the focus on empowering women in India. SHGs can now be found in most parts of the developing world, but a high concentration remain in India. SHGs are typically composed of 10-20 women who come together on a monthly basis to discuss issues affecting their lives, receive

Priority #1: Planning launch of new water security initiative

Over the next few weeks I plan to post blogs detailing the projects I’ll be working on during my time in India. To start off, one of my main projects is focused on water security within 6 villages in the Thar desert.       Here’s some background information to help set the context of water issues in the Thar:    According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Rajasthan experiences an average of 6 drought years in a decade. This past decade, the Thar desert experienced 7 years of

Greetings from Jodhpur!

Just wanted to post a quick update that I’ve made it to Jodhpur safely. Travel went surprisingly smooth, no problems or delays. After one night in Delhi I flew 1.5 hours to Jodhpur yesterday and arrived in the afternoon. After settling in at Indrashan (the guesthouse & my home for the next 3 months — more on that later), I went on a quick tour of the main city center. There is a staff member from the foundation here for another 10 days. She’s helping me settle in and also orient me to my work

How do you pack for 120 degrees?

As all of us in Santa Cruz complain about our mild “heat wave” coming up from Baja, with temperatures leveling off in the low 80s, I thought I would remind you all of the real heat I am about to experience. I am sure in a few weeks I’ll be wishing it was only 85 degrees.    In Rajasthan, the months of June – September is the hottest time of the year. As monsoons approach in July, the desert heats up, reaching upwards of 120 degrees in some places. Unfortunately this year, beyond the normal

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