Creating and Training the Local Team

By Dinesh Lodha, IFMR Finance Foundation

The below post is a continuation of our series of posts on Current State Diagnostic step.

For our data collection efforts it was obvious that we would need to assemble a local team as they would know the terrain better and survey respondents were more likely to be comfortable dealing with them than with people from outside the town.

On one of our visits to the Kurad Beedi ward in Srirangapatna, we happened to meet Ruhi, a citizen of Srirangapatna, who had been involved in conducting surveys for some government health schemes earlier. She had an understanding of the type of skills that would be required to conduct surveys and we discussed with her the possibility of putting together a local team to conduct spatial mapping and household surveys in Srirangapatna.

Ruhi put together a team of 9 members, largely students who belonged to the Kurad Beedi Slum, one of the nine slums of the town. They were largely high school graduates, some of who were waiting to go to college, others who had started work after school and some who had even started families! Shanti, 18, was married and had a kid, while Ramanathan had discontinued his studies to help his father in making and selling clay idols outside the Ranganatha Swamy Temple. Most of the team members knew each other and were clearly excited to be part of the project, an experience that was completely new for them.

Some of the local team members with Jared

With the team in place, we realized that they needed to be adequately trained, especially considering their inexperience and the scope of work involved. Also we had to bear in mind that our collective vocabulary of Kannada consisted of barely three words – hence we had to tailor our training efforts to ensure that they clearly understood the objective, the processes and the outcomes that were expected.


Prior to assembling the local team we had conducted a trial data collection exercise in Ward 16 to get a sense of the challenges that the local team may encounter. This trial run provided us with valuable inputs on the difficulties of cadastral mapping and household surveying, which helped in structuring a day-long training program for the local team to prepare them for the rigours of data collection.

Mapping streetlights on Kurad Beedi, 1st Main Street in Ward 16

Jared & Anand on Gumbaz Road in Ward 16 during trial data collection

The training programme was split into two sessions and was designed to combine visual aids and practical field exercise so that they can apply what they have learnt during the training.

First Session: The emphasis of the first session lay in outlining the scope of the project and its importance to Srirangapatna’s future growth. We chose the first session to detail the mapping effort and how physical infrastructure needs to be mapped based on the legends that would accompany each map. Most of them were seeing a map of their city for the first time and were clearly curious about the exercise of actually filling in the maps with infrastructure data.

We shared our experience from our trial mapping effort earlier and showed how we had gone about physically mapping infrastructure and the likely things they needed to be careful about while plotting data points. This was followed by a practical field exercise where we split the team into groups of two, and went about mapping physical infrastructure in Ward 11. We wrapped the first session by reviewing maps of each group and providing feedback about their output.

A local team member plotting data points in Ward 11

Second Session: In the second session we introduced the household surveys and the objective behind them. We detailed the questionnaire and laid special emphasis on the behavioral aspects that they would need to keep in mind while interviewing respondents. The groups then undertook mock interviews amongst themselves using the questionnaire and sample answer sheets. This was followed by a review of each answer sheet and we addressed queries that they had on specific questions.

We ended the training program by summarizing the day’s learnings and set up to start the actual process from the following day.