The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Following the completion of the results section of the qualitative report, which I had only 3 days to draft, the Population Council AGI-K team was off to attend a meeting at the offices of a partner organization, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC). The APHRC office building was beautiful, modern, and remarkably secure, as they share their office space with the UN Human Rights Council. I just couldn’t wait to allow myself a moment of geeking out to take a picture outside of their office space before heading back home. (Proof of my accomplishing this feat below.)
The main objective of this meeting was to we review the qualitative results in detail, read through illustrative respondent quotes, and discuss the key findings and implications that we wanted to be highlighted in the report. Because these qualitative interviews were very much intended to be a process evaluation, it was great to sit in on this meeting and be involved in the discussion of what findings would definitely be highlights and what these findings meant in terms of the recommendations that would be made to intervention implementation processes.
It very much reminded me of an important point in program research: we are not conducting research in a controlled laboratory, immune to all challenges both internal and external to the program; we are working with real people in a pretty uncontrolled setting. Try as you might to anticipate all of the challenges you may face in program implementation and uptake during the conceptualization phase of your study, but there are bound to be unforeseen obstacles that will require flexibility and adjustments in your research design. But that is the beauty in conducting a process evaluation like the one done for the AGI-K project. It allows you the opportunity to learn about what is going well and where there remains room for improvement before the intervention phase is complete.