Biweekly Meeting 1- Last two weeks reporting experience by the Field Team- 03 January 2022

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Tekalign (FR-Assela): I had a difficult experience in the last two weeks. They have been really busy because they have started to harvest crops. They only do this once a year. Also, last week Tuesday, the machine that they use for harvesting has come and because of this, they are extremely busy. They also have workers hired for this season and if they sit down for an interview, there is a tendency for workers to slack a little bit. I am also embarrassed to ask for taking the time away from my respondent during such a critical time.

This time, there is a lot of transaction going on with them like hiring workers…etc. I am also worried about missing that. But I couldn’t find them to have the interview. When they don’t respond back via phone, I just go and visit them physically but they don’t even acknowledge my presence. I still want to keep the positive relationship I have with them so I don’t want to push so hard. It was also a bit cloudy and it looked like it will rain so that was also very intense for them. If it rained then the crops will be totally ruined. If it is especially barely, the colour will change and the factories won’t buy it from them. So, they were very worried and scared about that.

I have been giving you this reason for the past two weeks and I worry that you might not believe me. I know am lagging behind and my performance is low. I am ashamed about it but it has been beyond my control.  I hope you know it is not on purpose. But I think, they will be done this week especially with the machine. It does the work very fast for them. So, to some extent, I think this week you will see lots of progress.

Regarding hiding information, I haven’t seen it that much. They are very open. They are also open about their other income sources such as cattle fattening and selling it. For example: one respondent told me that, if he has 100,000 to 200,000 cash, he buys cattle for reselling purpose.

Finbit has not been that difficult. I have a good understanding of it. Even if the respondent explains it in their own way, I can add it in Finbit without a problem. The crop survey has also been easy. I had some difficulty in the data check survey. I will raise my question in the exchange group. For the respondents, there is some repetition to it. They even thought, I haven’t been listening well or giving it enough attention but I explain to them that it is the nature of the interview.

Ibrahim (FR-Bekoji): I had a similar experience as Tekalign. We also live in the same area. So most of the things he said are similar to mine. What I want to add is about the type of harvesting. One is using combine harvester using the machine. The other one is doing it manually in groups. The second one of using the group method is common especially for those with small hectares (less than ½ hectare) They hire workers for usually 150 birr per day. One farmer could have up to 10 workers. Most of my respondents use this method and they have been really busy.

I was very much challenged with meeting them. They don’t pick up phones; or their phones is switched off. I just go to the market place hoping to find them there but I also don’t find them there. I felt like repeatedly calling them and asking them to meet me is pushing them to some extent. I don’t want to create that negative feeling since I will meet these people for the next three months. It has been the most challenging week for me.

On top of that, it is also tax disclosing time. They know that I am not from the government but they still have doubts. Even if I tell them again and again about the confidentiality of anything they tell me, they still hesitate. For example: one respondent said, he produces about 250 quintals and added that please do not tell anyone. I assured him but this tells me the extent of their discomfort in opening up freely. Asset registration has also not been easy. Some don’t want to tell me all of it so I have to probe them indirectly.

I know that am lagging because of tax time and harvesting time. I also know that my number of interviews is way behind my fellow teammates. It was very much beyond my control. Even the guider was also hard to find but he promised me that this week will be better. I have a hope that I will be able to meet them when this hectic time after this week.

Finbt has been easy but I had a hard time with the crop survey. I was not able to complete 3 surveys. I will send screenshots later in the technical assistance group.

Tigist (FR-Dangla): I am done with the second week report. I would like to address Ibrahim’s problem with the crop survey. For example: I inserted teff in the crop set up so now in the crop monitoring survey, it asks me follow up questions even if there are no new crops this week. So I just want to address that for him to check his crops in the setup round.

In general, diaries stage has been difficult compared to previous weeks because it is harvesting time. But what helped me the most is their land and their residence area are not that far from each other so I was able to finish. Traders has been difficult but as I was permitted, I was able to do it via phone interview with one trader.

Finbt and crop survey are not that challenging, the only challenge is meeting respondents but I overcame it with my guiders help and the closeness of their land. Internet has also been improved even if it is weak. The government has opened it up so I can do my reporting via telegram and sync my surveys.

Melesech (FR-Jawi): I don’t have much to add because it is similar to what others said. I also know that I am lagging behind. The challenge for me was their farm land and their residence area are far away so when they are on their land and harvesting, their phone doesn’t even work. I am only been able to meet them when they come back to their residence area especially on Sundays for church.

For crop monitoring, I had some difficulty because their responses differ from previous weeks. The numbers they tell me during the set up and the numbers they tell me now during monitoring differs. But the app doesn’t allow that and I had difficulty with it.

For Finbit, they are very open about their expenses but not so much on their income sources. Some respondents are very transparent but some not so much.

Internet is also better now that I don’t have to travel more than 100 km like before so I will be able to upload my results faster than before and do also reporting via telegram.

Samuel (FR-Butajira): In general, it is going good for me. One of the reasons that made it good for me was the guider’s effort. I would like to give credit to him. He does the most difficult task prior to my arrival like appointing and getting ready the respondents in one place. I usually spent the night in Butajira town and travel to the Kebele with about 20-birr transport fee. But by the time I arrive there, the respondents are ready for the interview sometimes up to 4 respondents. Those who live in the neighbourhood close to each other come to a central place. It is their culture also to have coffee together, to work together…etc. So usually, I find them having coffee together or working together which made it easier for me to conduct the interviews. On Sunday’s especially, after leaving church, they usually have a breakfast and coffee together in one home. That has been really good for me to find them together. I sit down with one respondent one by one about 10 metres away from the others and I interview them. With the guider, we also walk together from one home to another very fast. He has been really helpful.

If I have network issues, I use my notebook to record my answer. Then I fill in in Finbit when I get network. The crop monitoring survey and the data check survey has not been that difficult.

Some issues I had is on diary interview like loan. When I ask them, they say it is a very small amount like 100 birr to 300 birr. For example: during my interview- one respondent came and asked my interviewee at the time for a loan of 200 birr. So I had to point out to him that, this is part of loan report but you always say ‘No’, when I asked you about loan. He was like but this is very insignificant and I will return it the next day. In general, this is the most common loan in the area, they get a loan of maximum of 300 birr and repay in the next two to three days. It is not from organizations/institutions and it is not large amount even if it is from individuals. So it needs a lot of probing.

Other than this, most of the record is on expenses. They are very open about their expenses while they say “no income”. When I ask them, they reply- I had it at home so I go back and set up the cash account again. For example: one respondent told me about his payment to workers of 1200 birr, some amount for fuel, some amount for agro-chemicals but no income.

The other common question still is “what is in it for me?” “Aren’t we getting paid for this?” “Are you going to come every week for another 2 months for 20 to 30 minutes with nothing for us?”. I tried to explain the reasons, the research objectives but it is a recurring question. They also ask me if I will ever go back to visit them when the research period is over. They are like, you are taking something for us and you better not disappear after the data collection is over.

The security situation I told you earlier is a bit better. There is a progress for peaceful resolution between the two Woredas. There has been people arrested on both sides and they are putting the release of the prisoners as a condition to make peace. But overall the situation seems hopeful to be resolved without escalating to violent conflict.