In May 2012, InterMedia Africa hosted a workshop in Nairobi on Qualitative Research – Methods, Techniques and Good Practice. As a result of attending this workshop, the Kenya Transition Initiative (KTI) and USAID commissioned InterMedia Africa to conduct a capacity building programme among a small number of selected young adults within the Eastleigh Community in Nairobi.
The Eastleigh area of Nairobi is particularly interesting and challenging as it is home to many Somali-Kenyans, many of whom are immigrants with low levels of education, high levels of unemployment and very strong affiliations to Somalia and Somali culture. As such, Eastleigh residents are often regarded as fertile territory for recruitment into extremist organisations. Violence, prostitution, drug abuse and crime are common in the area. KTI works with many local grantees in Eastleigh on youth-centered projects aimed at empowering young people and building their life and work skills.
The main purpose of the KTI/ InterMedia skills building programme was to equip 15 young people with qualitative research skills such that they may be employed on a freelance basis by KTI as they conduct qualitative evaluations of their Eastleigh community.
The training was designed to be a mix of classroom sessions and practical work, whereby the trainees would conduct a modest qualitative project on behalf of a number of KTI’s grantees in Eastleigh. Vivien Marles of InterMedia Africa and consultant Edna Thiongo facilitated the classroom sessions with the 15 trainees and covered such topics as:
- Research – what it is and why we do it;
- Principles of qualitative research;
- Qualitative research methods;
- Respondent selection and logistics;
- Developing qualitative instruments;
- Conducting depth interview and focus group discussions; and
- Moderating skills and projective and enabling techniques.
On the final day of the first classroom week, small practice focus groups were held, which were moderated by the trainees.
During the next few weeks, the 15 trainees met their grantee clients, took a research brief, identified the research questions, recruited five key informants for depth interviews and 16 respondents for participation in two focus group discussions. They collected the data, translated and transcribed the information into English for analysis and presentation purposes. They faced many challenges along the way, but good team work and on-going InterMedia mentorship resulted in the successful completion of three projects, involving six focus group discussions and 15 key informant interviews.
During the second week of classroom training the trainees learned how to analyze, interpret and present qualitative research. The training culminated in presentations back to the client grantees and a certification ceremony.
The next steps for these 15 budding research professionals is for them to gain more practical research experience by working on KTI projects around the country, and by working as interns in research agencies in Kenya. They are highly motivated to work in research and all 15 are eminently capable of so doing.