After a lengthy discussion with my EWB coach one Friday, I was able to focus my energy into 2 impact projects: Data Analysis and Project Management. Both of these relate to things I’m more experienced in and, most importantly, have an interest in pursuing.
For data analysis, I will be shifting my focus from just the 4 main departments – health, education, agriculture, and water & sanitation – to those departments most excited to delve into their data looking for answers. The steps I hope to work on in my time here are as follows.
- Determine Starting Point: perform a survey of all departments and catalogue resources and skill level.
- Get People on Board: present a group presentation to gauge excitement and willingness to learn.
- Work Together: perform 1-on-1 workshops to increase people’s capacity.
- Understand the Data: facilitate discussions to lead to deeper understanding of the information collected from the field.
- Share with Others: have partner department present findings in front of all departments in a meeting.
After my initial survey, I found that almost all officers had a computer, which is the starting point. Most had a very basic or no understanding of Microsoft Excel and how to use it. They had maybe opened it a year ago, but forgot what they learnt due to lack of use. From my results, the need was great, with 10 organizations available for workshops. These partner departments are:
- Social Welfare
- Community Development
- Human Rights
- Youth Employment
- Audit Services
- Rural Enterprises
- Environmental Health
After the survey of departments, I moved to performing a group presentation (step 2) to get everyone introduced to MS Excel. I went over how it looks, what can go in a worksheet, and then some basic math functions.
I tried my best to have them involved throughout, so that it wasn’t just another presentation that would be forgotten. The highlight was the second half, when I gave them problems to solve. Luckily, one of the participants brought a laptop so along with mine, we had two to use.
I am now in the process of step 3 – creating and initiating workshops on a more personal basis. There is a lot of excitement in the department for this training, so I hope everything goes well. I am most excited to test out my teaching skills and see what results we create together.
IMPACT #2: PROJECT MANAGEMENT
It should be no surprise to anyone, who knows that I’ve been working in Project Management, what my second impact focus should be. There are many development projects occurring in the district: schools, dams, roads, health facilities, economic programs, and more.
After interviewing many government officers involved in the implementation of these projects, I received many ideas on improvement. The ideas span from before construction, during construction, and after construction. One example is to change the project handover from a dry, bureaucratic procedure to a more involved community gathering. This should help to get the community on board for the lifetime of the project.
Some ideas seem easy, while others are very lofty. Some with have a big impact, while others might not change anything. I will hope to implement some, or more realistically, one of these ideas.