Notes from the field: Nutrition Survey Part 2

Surveying in Nicaragua

Surveying in Nicaragua

 Here’s the first of some correspondence from Dan Fenyvesi, M.S., R.D. who has been implementing the nutrition survey in the communities near Esteli, as part of establishing some baseline data to measure the impact of the greenhouses.  His notes document the joys and frustrations of putting together a survey with limited resources and challenging logistics, as well as personal views on nutrition.
The jam reflects a strong belief here that sugar is healthy. Esp in these rural zones where calorie deficits used to be huge, sugar was an important source of calories, all the working agricultural men were glad to have sugar and sugar sweetened foods to fuel their work days.  They don’t connect it to disease and obesity like we do. I am not even sure if they connect it to dental problems.Anyhow, I will try to reach you tonight if you want to catch up on any details of the analysis we are developing. Also the students are pushing to try to do more over a shorter period of time, partly because of one of them has to go, also because the data collection is proceeding faster than we thought. When we figured it would only be me, maybe one helper, it looked like 10-11 days would be needed, it does seem like it is possible to do it in less. We did the 9 houses yesterday in about 4-5 hours, though they were all close by, not much walking between houses. We look at the schedule with Rosario in more detail tonight and try to figure that out, and also budget in time, and try to calculate how much time we need for analysis too.

I agree about rushing and I would rather have more accurate/quality data than quantity; partly because of course its not worth much if it wasn’t gathered carefully but also because 1) there has not been a lot variation yet 2) more data could become a mountain of work to analyze.
 As far as speed goes we actually were going at the same pace as the first day but for much of the first day we all worked together, which meant 1-2 people interviewing (me and one student) and 2 just listening, I rotated the students till they all got a feel for it. Yesterday we had everyone working at a “station” doing interviews and measurements. I went from station to station, listening/checking up and helping. The students do the interviews faster than me b/c of the level of Spanish and understanding local expressions. But yes I am listening and checking the entire time and occasionally correcting them but they are for the most part, now quite good at it. The way we pared down the questionnaire, per your request, makes it faster than the more qualitative survey I was originally envisioning, the only lengthy part is the diet intake.  We we also now have Kenia, for perhaps the whole week, she is a pro and a stickler for details/accuracy.
I believe we are going to start trying to put everything into the computer at the same time we are doing the intakes, that will also slow us down, so I am not sure about the pace, we will see, possibly yesterday being very fast was just an aberration. We also need to get Rosario started on doing intakes, right? That was your hope, correct? I can l have her listen really closely to what we are doing and then gradually start doing a few, if that sounds good to you.