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From Resident Enumerator To Supervisor: An Interview with an Outstanding Woman Working for PMA2020/DRC

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Written by: Pierre Akilimali (IT Specialist and Field Coordinator, PMA2020/DRC)

Ruth SANGA KANDU is a graduate nurse. She is the Associate Director of Nursing and a tenured associate nurse at the reference health center (“Centre de santé de reference”, or CSR) in Valumba, in the Health Zone of Muanda, in the Health Area of Muanda B. She is the family planning focal point and has been working as a resident enumerator (data collector) for Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) in Kongo Central since 2016 when the PMA2020 survey was first conducted in that province.

The resident enumerators (REs) are the primary data collectors for PMA2020. They are females, typically between the ages of 20-35, and together form the backbone of the project. They work hard to collect timely and accurate data from households, females, and health service delivery points in their communities. Each RE receives support and guidance from her field supervisor throughout the data collection period and often beyond. Field supervisors help REs troubleshoot a range of technical and logistical challenges and ensure that REs adhere to timelines and collect high-quality data.

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Ruth was recently promoted to Supervisor; her enthusiasm and dedication to PMA2020 is an asset to the project. We recently spoke with Ruth to understand more about her experience with PMA2020.

How did you hear about PMA2020/DRC?

I heard of it for the first time in 2015 in the province of Kongo Central, in the Health Zone of Moanda, through the Chief Medical Officer of that Health Zone. He was in the process of identifying potential REs based on instructions from the Kinshasa School of Public Health.

Could you tell us about your experience, both positive and negative, as an RE?

A positive experience is that I have been learning a lot on how to use Android Smartphones, particularly the Open Data Kit (ODK) application, and also that I have a deeper knowledge of my enumeration area (the area where she conducts surveys).

A negative point is that we sometimes have issues with internet connection, which we need to submit forms to the server.

Since you have worked with PMA2020/DRC during two rounds of data collection, how does your experience working as an RE compare with your expectations at the beginning of the project?

I am satisfied because we help generate reproductive health indicators on a regular basis for our province of Kongo Central. This allows our decision-makers to adequately plan for reproductive health activites in the province in general, and for family planning activities in particular.

How important is it for you to become a supervisor? What do you think of your responsibility in your new role?

The survey focuses on couples in general, that is to say both genders, but more essentially women. As a woman, I understand better than men women’s perception of reproductive health and family planning. Moreover, sharing my experience as an RE will help me provide good supervision to my pool of REs. Finally, becoming a supervisor will allow me to learn more about the implementation of PMA2020 surveys and to be more useful in supporting the REs in the field. My responsibilities are huge, and so is the challenge that I am about to take on to contribute to improving the quality of the collected data. I must play an active role in providing supportive supervision to the REs.

If you had the opportunity to meet an RE from Kenya or another focus country of PMA2020, what would you like to learn from her experience?

I would like to learn from her how the survey is rolled out in her enumeration area, what challenges she has faced and what the particualirites of her country are. I would also like to know how they solve problems.

Do you think it will be difficult to work as a supervisor?

No, it is a matter of getting into it and following instructions carefully, and having a conscience. But this is a challenge worth taking on.

Please share with us one aspect of this job that you like the most.

The aspect of this work that I like the most is conducting the interview for the household and female questionnaires. The trust that respondents place in you, knowing that you will keep their secrets.

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PMA2020/Kongo Central is led by the School of Public Health at the University of Kinshasa, in partnership with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The first three rounds of data collection were conducted in Kinshasa only. During the fourth and fifth rounds, the PMA2020/DRC team expanded its sample to cover the province of Kongo Central, which is adjacent to Kinshasa. In 2017, we will implement the third round of data collection in Kongo Central. This population-based survey is led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.