With the safety of conducting in-person interviews being jeopardized by the world-wide bug, we lost the opportunity of engaging with the Malvani community in their school and home environments. The RCT we are conducting in collaboration with Project Balika had to be remote in every way, so as to reflect the nature of remote access to information during COVID-19 disruptions.
This lead us to implement phone surveys for the baseline and endline data collection rounds as a way to navigate travel and social distancing restrictions. The challenges of implementing detailed surveys with socio-demographic and psychometric items were many, with one of the biggest challenges being attaining and sustaining participant involvement throughout the course of the phone survey.
Reaching families was another challenge, as parents were commuting to their villages, or had sporadic network access. Many were reluctant to give their time, despite monetary compensation. Participants also lost interest midway through the survey, and facilitators would have to coordinate call-backs. The challenges of endline interviews were in reconnecting with the participants after a span of 6 months.
Delivering a phone-based behavioral intervention was another aspect of the program that presented challenges, but we assessed the pathways adopted for an ongoing Ghana intervention led by RIPPLE lab PI, Dr. Sharon Wolf. More on assessing impacts later!