The team leading the 2023 Agrarian Rural Household Economy (ARHE) project convened in Cape Town from 15-17 January 2024 to reflect on lessons from data collection in November and December 2023. The primary objective of this event was to prepare a fieldwork insights report.
Enumerators contracted for the fieldwork, including those from Tshintsha Amakhaya (TA), the client, joined the core HSRC team for 3 days of deep and critical reflections of what transpired in field last year. The three themes that defined the event focused on fieldwork preparation, doing the fieldwork, and procedures in managing captured data. Deliberations helped the team to better understand how a proposed methodology gets translated into practice. It helped to systematically gauge how the proposed methods compare with the surprising and harsh realities of data collection. A quick preview of the resulting dataset was a highpoint of this learning event and a marker of the successful completion of the fieldwork. Adequate preparation, like reflexive and solutions-oriented action, stood out as essential for each stage of the data collection process.
It is beneficial for research teams to step back and review lessons from each phase of large and multifaceted projects as they roll out different activities. Such a review and learning from practice is more than just ticking yet another-milestone-reached box. Ultimately, post-fieldwork learning pivots on thinking collectively about innovative ways to advance the science of collecting high-quality data, coupled with a proactive search to enhance academic, policy and societal impacts.
Links to previous project updates:
Revisiting how South African agrarian households work and live
Enumerators trained for 2023 agrarian household survey