While summer is often synonymous with relaxation, millions of graduate students pack their bags each year and travel to developing nations in order to conduct field research projects. These trips offer rich opportunities for future development actors to get better acquainted with their area of interest and to add a human dimension to topics discussed earlier in their classrooms.
1. Guillaume Kroll, New York University
This summer, I headed to Malawi to participate in a global research on informal savings practices in developing countries. In order to draw reliable information from the sampling I am working on, it is very important that I gain a thorough understanding of the nature and the components of the Malawian society. Statistics such as population repartition by age group, marital status, literacy rate, and area of living are of a valuable assistance to structure my research and disclose differences between the various groups’ savings practices (Old vs Young, Married vs Single, Literate vs Illiterate, Rural vs Urban, etc...)”
Since Guillaume’s research focuses on a singular country, it was important for him to access sub-national level information in order to gauge geographical discrepancies between Malawi’s three regions (and 28 districts).
Prior to his trip, he found Malawi CensusInfo, a database released in 2012 that contains 56 indicators, including “Population by urban/rural,” “Annual Growth Rate,” and “Mean Age at First Marriage.” When Guillaume wanted to create a map to display which districts have the highest and lowest “Literacy Rate for both sexes,” he could do so in under a minute. He can now create a DevInfo Admin database and enter the information he collected. He can determine if he wants to organize that information by sector (e.g. education, type of lending practice...) and associate each data point with a specific area. Once the database is created, he can access it through DevInfo User and create customizable graphs/maps to insert in his thesis report.
2.Katrin Wittig, PhD Student, Universite de Montreal
“I am conducting research on conflict resolution as well as the promotion of democracy and development in post-conflict countries. Finding data, in general, and comparable data, in particular, is a big challenge. In my dissertation, I intend to compare several African countries. In the long-term, it would be especially interesting to get time series data across many years to see how conflict and governance, for example, impact human development indicators, such as poverty (e.g. number of people living below the $1 per day), education (e.g. net enrolment in primary education) or unemployment (e.g. youth unemployment).”
Katrin is primarily interested in comparing nations. To that end, she accessed the global DevInfo databases Millennium Development Goals 2011 and the State of the World's Children 2012 to browse for relevant indicators.
Katrin now has human development indicators readily available to easily compare them across countries and create tables to visualize that comparison.
When she goes in the field for her research, she will be able to determine her indicators (either ones that already exist or ones that she can create) and to build a database to observe their evolution throughout time based on specific countries and subregions.
The DevInfo Support Group team wishes Guillaume and Katrin the best of luck in their respective research projects.
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