By Aime Parfait Emerusenge
Commonly, any field data collection may encounter some challenges. The most important thing is to overcome them as quickly as possible to keep on with the data collection. I collected my data in a school that was in Kiziba Refugee Camp. Our trainers at Jigsaw Consult had planned to have two people collecting the data in the schools of that camp. As an urban refugee, I could not enter the refugee camp without permission. The UNHCR staff helped me, but the local authorities from the Ministry of in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) took a long time to grant me permission to enter the camp. They had to make their investigations, such as knowing more about the research that I was conducting to ensure the safety of the camp. This was a challenge for me because I had not planned to spend a long time doing the data collection. To overcome the challenge, I was patient until I got permission, and I asked the Jigsaw Consult team if I could have extra time in the camp; which they allowed me. I finally ended up making it, and I finished my data collection on time. This happened thanks to the flexibility of the people working in the UNHCR and MINEMA. I learned from this challenge that it is always necessary to be prepared to meet the challenges related to data collection, and plan to add on some extra time for your data collection process.
The other challenge was the problem of fixing appointments with my interviewees. I was going to collect data from college students who are about to graduate. The majority of them were very busy with their academic works, while others had gone for internships. When I arrived at the school, I found out that there were only fifteen students out of the more than forty students that I had to meet for Data Collection Point 1. I was worried at the beginning that I would not be able to interview all of them. I approached one of the members of the university staff, and he gave me important advice. He advised that I should contact them over the email or phone, tell them about the data collection (it was a reminder because all of them were aware of it), and ask them how I could meet them. Fortunately, all the students that I needed to talk to were interested in talking to me. I shared with them a spreadsheet document to sign up to with times they were available, and they told me about their availability. I was happy to see that they respected the appointment, because they showed up and were on time. Their answers to the survey questions are very important for the research. They also asked me interesting questions. I learned from this challenge that effective communication is the key.