Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown that has slowed down activities around the world, Researchers under the Africa-UK Trilateral Research Chair on Mainstreaming Gender for Energy Security in Poor Urban Environments (GENS) are finding novel and exciting ways of carrying out ethnographic research. During our monthly GENS working session, the GENS Nairobi team carrying out pilot research in the Mathare informal settlement, Kenya, Peris Njoroge and Douglas Logedi, led by Dr Amollo Ambole, shared their experience.
This is their story.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we set to adjust the nature of our ethnographic research in households in Mathare. The Nairobi team carried out the pilot study on 28 to 31 July 2020 in Mathare, aimed at testing the survey to get a response and insights from the participants. We had 34 respondents, wherein the study comprised of face-to-face interviews, do-it-yourself (DIY) survey, phone calls and ethnographic study. The events, feedbacks and collections of the pilot activity of this research was in real situations, locations and a prototype of the next round of data collection in the community. It is our aim that even as the world adjusts to new ways of doing and living, the Mainstreaming Gender for Energy Security in Poor Urban Environments (GENS) contribution to the society is emphatic as we continue to investigate realistic ways of achieving our objectives to our stakeholders and the community at large”.
What would you do if you were to think without a box?
On 23 June 2020 GENS Team kickstarted monthly working sessions, thanks to our GENS PI from the University of Nairobi, Dr Amollo Ambole, for initiating the idea!
As outcome based meetings, we encourage creativity, sharing, brainstorming and adding value to each of the GENS Team members.
All smiles after a very productive kick-off!
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all” – Mulan
On the 2nd of June 2020, the GENS Nairobi research team from the University of Nairobi met with potential stakeholders from Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting aimed to kickstart the stakeholder engagement process by introducing GENS research to community leaders from Mathare. In a two-hour meeting, the participants explored the diverse range of stakeholders in Mathare and the methods that we could use to engage with them in GENS research. Throughout the discussion, the Mathare community leaders demonstrated a willingness to work with the GENS Nairobi team.
The GENS team also gained valuable insights into the complex governance structure within Mathare, which is a mix of formal and informal sub-structures. In a follow-up research meeting, the team used these insights to lay the groundwork for engaging with the Mathare community. In line with GENS research objectives, the Nairobi team will continue to engage with stakeholders from Mathare, as well as from energy policy, and expert communities in Kenya. As always, the team will adhere to the safety measures on the COVID 19 pandemic provided by Kenya’s national ministry of health.
The GENS Researchers are embracing the new ways of doing research. Setting up of GENS Living Labs in Groenheuwel in Paarl and Mathare in Nairobi is the core of GENS Research. It requires us to engage with the communities and collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Qualitative data collection involves face to face engagements. However, how can we collect qualitative data when the conventional methods are no longer applicable?
The curious GENS Team is exploring innovative ways of doing both qualitative and quantitative research. We see the current situation as a positive unintended consequence that the GENS Trilateral Chair hopes to contribute!
“If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment” – Naval Adm. William H. McRaven
On behalf of GENS Team, we congratulate Christer Anditi, GENS PhD Researcher, for successfully getting her PhD proposal approved by the Academic Committee on 9 June 2020, despite the challenging conditions.
The GENS Team is over the moon for Christer’s achievement! Well done!
“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” – Joseph Campell