In the context of an agricultural community living in a game reserve and encroaching on the Serengeti National Park (map below--zoom out!), the relationship between agricultural land use, the cultural norm of large families, and access to family planning is complicated. I plan to evaluate the impact of a community health worker program (that focuses on maternal health, family planning and child nutrition) in the Meatu district over the next year. The main outcomes (though there are many of interest) are uptake in contraceptives, changes in female bargaining power and changes in expected land use. We plan to do this through a randomized controlled trial where the treatment group of villages will receive the community health worker consultation visits and the control villages will not.
The land use focus of the project is interesting, given the proximity of this community to conservation areas full of wildlife. The research is jointly funded by the European Union and the Frankfurt Zoological Society, which has been working in the communities around the Serengeti on conservation projects for over forty years. While it is unlikely that over a year of the program we will be able to see any actual changes in land use, we may be able to see changes in expectations of cultivation and crop choice.
I hope to get a measure of female bargaining power (intra-household economics code for empowerment) by splitting the treatment into individual consultations (women speaking to the community health worker alone) and couples treatment. This way, we will get to really see if women are more likely to adopt contraceptives when given the option of discreteness. I've written about this choice process here and here. I'm pretty excited about this part of the project and having insight into the household decision process over fertility.
This summer, though, I will mostly be prepping and beginning the baseline data collection from both control and treatment households. I've got a good working version of my household survey with sections on agricultural cultivation, animals, natural resource consumption, health care, education, land use expectations and household demographics. However, well before that even happens, I have a lot of work to hire and train enumerators as well as conduct (hopefully informative) focus groups. All this before I even start using the PDAs I worried so much about...
Once I trust my surveys are decent, maybe I'll share them here and get even more feedback. As I'll be in the field and traveling quite a lot, actual blogging may be sparse, but I imagine I'll have a lot to share.