Mapping Infrastructure and Conducting Household Surveys

By Dinesh Lodha, IFMR Finance Foundation

This post is a continuation of our series of posts on the current state diagnostic step.

To get a sense of the time that it might take for our data collection efforts, we had earlier undertaken a trial data collection exercise from our end in one of the slums of the town. Based on our experience and a basic understanding of the geography, we set ourselves the target of covering the town, which is split into Srirangapatna Fort Area and Ganjam, in a span of 2 weeks.

For the duration of our data collection efforts we decided to stay in a nearby accommodation, which was close to the local municipal office. While the place had a friendly staff and an expansive menu that was largely on paper, what stood out were two large emus, who for some reason were keen on plucking our heads out every time we walked past them. Perhaps the scam around emu farming had gotten the better of them!

We chose the local municipal office as our center of operations as it was easily accessible and was easy to travel from to other parts of the town. Our local team would arrive there every morning for a briefing about the day’s schedule.

The local municipal office

We had split the group into 4 teams, each consisting of a designated surveyor and a physical mapper. The surveyor’s task was to conduct 10 household interviews per ward; with an over representation of household interviews from slums in case a ward had one. The physical mapper on the other hand would observe the parameters that we wanted to capture and draw them on the A3 sheet in line with the color codes that we laid down.

Our daily briefing would involve a combination of addressing the group as a whole and each team individually. This was to ensure that they understood the task at hand and things weren’t lost in translation, in addition to of course addressing any queries that they may not express in front of the larger group.

After the morning brief we would walk each of the teams to their respective starting locations of the ward they would be undertaking data collection for. This was primarily done so that they could correspond their present location with the map – orienting them so as to accurately map the physical infrastructure.

Local team members in action

Depending on the size of the wards and the proximity from the local TMC office, it would usually take 3-4 hours for the teams to wrap their data collection for a ward. After which they would arrive at the local TMC office, where we would sit with each team to go through the data collected by them. This was done to ensure that the data collected was in line with our expectations and it served as a way to train the teams better for their next day of data collection.

Jared cross-checking data collected by one of the teams

Throughout the course of our data collection we established a set of routines that we adhered to religiously and ensured that the local staff knew and realized their importance.

Some of these routines include:

  • Meeting at the local TMC office everyday at 10:00 AM.
  • Summarizing the work that was done the day before and addressing issues that may have cropped up.
  • Running through maps of wards that would be covered on the day and talking about any landmarks or important streets within it.
  • Allocation of wards to teams and briefing them about their particular wards, with special emphasis on slums if present.
  • Briefly explaining the legends and household survey questions.
  • Physically walking each team to the starting point of survey in their respective ward.
  • Making random visits to each team while they were doing the surveys/mapping of the ward.
  • De-brief and data validation of each team’s results at the local TMC office.