Quitting a job at a supermarket in Kericho town a cashier to work with communities in the remote areas of the County was the best thing to have happened to 31-year-old Scandy Chemutai, a mother of two boys.
For four years since she joined a team of Resident Enumerators – under the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) – rising to the position of supervisor, Scandy does not regret leaving her supermarket job.
She is happy working with communities and the transformation her work and 150 others have brought in 11 counties selected to pilot the PMA2020 project has achieved.
“I used to work late as a cashier at a supermarket in Kericho town. But when PMA came calling, I did not look back. I was interviewed and was given opportunity. I worked for six months as a probation officer before more opportunities knocked on the door,” she told People Daily recently.
After the probation period was over, Kericho County referral Hospital contacted her and asked if she could volunteer in its community health services. The hospital wanted Scandy to employ her experience and network – working with people in the grassroots areas – to help trace Tuberculosis patients who had defaulted treatment.
She did well. Scandy wanted to give more, back to the community because; this is where her true passion was. And convinced that with the experience she had gained she could be part of a true transformation in the society, Scandy went back to school.
“I went back to school to pursue a diploma in Community Development. Using part of the money earned from working with PMA, I am now pursuing a degree in Community Development so that I can satisfactorily give back to the society,” the diploma holder in Information Technology (IT) said.
She confided that data collection has taken her closer to the people and has made her what she is today.
“I interact with people and this data collection programme has helped us to refer the community members to the nearest health care facility for advise,” Scandy beamed with a smile, “this is all I wanted in my life.”
The PMA2020 is collecting data in 151 nationally representative enumeration areas throughout the country. The project has employed 151 female resident enumerators, 11 supervisors, and a rapid response team to conduct data collection.
Scandy confessed that when she started working for PMA2020 in 2014 she didn’t know whether she would go through an exciting experience using a mobile phone to collect data.
It was the most exciting experience during the period of data collection.
“Using a mobile phone to collect data was the most exciting experience. Most of us didn’t know how to use a smartphone. But the transformation we have witnessed among community members,”
A program running up to 2020 is being used by the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRHK) to collect data aimed at informing significant family planning policies and programs in the country.
The ICRHK is a lead implementer of the PMA2020 assisted by four universities namely; Moi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Technical University of Mombasa and University of Nairobi. For policy direction, the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) are also involved in the program that is in its Round Seven currently.
On the other end, in the North Rift, 27 year old Carol Chetum, traverses valleys and crosses rivers in a 14-kilometre trek every day to talk to residents of Kedukak village in West Pokot County about family planning and other health matters.
“My day starts at 7 am, and by 8, one hour later, I am already working with the first household. I see three households everyday spending two hours in each. Using a mobile-enabled Open Data Kit, I send my information to the head office every evening,” she said.
Since 2016, when she completed her Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the Kisii University, Chetum has been working with the community in what she termed as “a gratifying undertaking” which has seen people accept that data collection is valuable.
Like Scandy, the initial challenges to get people to listen and accept them, Chetum is happy that working with the communities, is giving back to society.
“Despite the numerous challenges I went through initially, I feel proud when I am working in my community. This way, I am giving back to my people who made me what I am today,” she said. Chetum emphasized that this program is slowly bearing fruits with more women, from a largely culture motivated community, now visiting health facilities for check-ups and information.
Some of the questions Resident Enumerators ask community members when collecting data include finding out the number of children they have; what they eat, where they get their food from; where they fetch water and firewood, and whether they visit clinics.
In a way, the questions are used as entry into a more delicate subject of family planning bearing in mind that the community in West Pokot regards it as an emotive issue.
“However, this is now changing and we are seeing a lot of transformations. People are visiting health facilities, and are starting to be a bit inquisitive about family planning, besides being accommodative,” she said.
Chetum said that people in her area of enumeration have found out that this information would be passed on to the government and other relevant stakeholders who had the potential of improving their living conditions.
“My job has now changed my status in my area of residence. I am now known by the majority of residents in my area. I now feel confident and more motivated to continue working in my enumeration area and submit data, which I know that after analysis and presentation to the government, residents from my area will benefit from increased access to and quality of family planning services,” she said.
Peter Gichangi, ICRHK Executive Director, says that a network of resident enumerators use mobile phones to collect data at in households and health facilities and transfer the data to a central server.
“The data is then validated, aggregated and prepared into tables and graphs, making results more quickly available to stakeholders as compared to a paper-and-pencil survey,” Gichangi adds, noting that it takes four to six weeks to create the accessible results.
PMA2020 is a five-year project to gather information about family planning, water and sanitation, and related health issues in 11 countries across Africa and Asia, including Kenya. One of the many things PMA2020 is looking at is the percentage of women in Kenya using contraception.
In 2009, the last year Kenya had a major national health survey, the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) for married women was 46 per cent. The government’s goal was to get that number to 56 per cent by 2015, and to 70 per cent by 2030.