Anatomy of a survey -- Deepak blogs


Arghyam,, (the organisation that runs the India Water Portal) is conducting a water and sanitation survey in the state of Karnataka. One of the most intensive efforts of its kind, the survey will cover 17,200 households in all 28 districts of Karntaka. This will be a people's survey where the surveyors will be from among the people and include students, women members of self help groups, local NGO partners and other interested volunteers.
The survey has entered the intensive phase in December, with the preparatory phases completed and the actual survey work has begun. Through a series of posts here we'll trace the survey process and provide an inside look at how this project is goingTo see the entire series, click here :
Deepak Menon of India Water Portal blogs on his trip to be part of a training in Hubli


Hubli Dairies


December 12, 2008

I arrive in Hubli via the Rani Chennamma Express. couldnt sleep a wink -my fault though. I forgot my blanket, and I thought I heard my bones.

Luckily, for me the training centre and the accomodation is in the same hotel; - Hotel Sri Krishna. Over breakfast I met up with our trainers, Sunil B, and Veerupaksha Gowda from Bhageerath, and Mr. P.M. Deshmukh our partner organization from Uttar Kannada. They give me confidence


The day should have started at 9:30 a.m. By 11:30, the surveryors are just strolling in. At least our city brethren are late by mere half and hour. P.M. Deshmukh sensing my impatience, advises me of the normality of the situation, considering that a lot of the surveyors and supervisors must have commenced their journey from far flung villages only in the morning. I bow before greater experience, and waited.

At 11:30 am sharp, the training starts- ofcourse with a small official ceremony. We are Indians after all. The ceremony begins with one of supervisors, Nagraj, singing Vande Matram, followed by a small speech by P.M. Deshmukh. All of them speak in chaste Kannda, and I am struggling to follow.

I have been asked to speak. In Hindi, I manage to comunicate the importance of the survey, and the need for committment and honesty in the survey. I wish I could speak Kannada.

Soon, thankfully, the trainers took over. Over the entire day modules like survey sentization, village mapping, demystifying water and sanitation issues, government schemes are covered. The long day ends at 7:30 p.m. with some home work thrown in for the unfortunate surveyors and supervisors.

The next day is important.

December 13, 2008


Thankfully I am on time There is punishment for late-comers- no whip lashing here, just some recapping of yesterday, quizzes, and some songs thrown in for fun.

The discussion today is largely on questionnaires- household, village, Gram Panchayat. A lot of talking, arguing- but good progress. They point out some flaws in the questionnaire. All the questionnaires have been printed. Hopefully, the Google SMS channel idea works.

Uneventful day. I suppose, how eventful can day get when discussing questionnaires? Everyone got excited when the water testing kits came out- fluoirde, and nitrate tests. Surprisingly, many people seem to know about these tests, inclyding the H2S strip tests. Water testing seems to a routine activity these days. What a shame!


Next day is the real test. We go on our village field visits. Lets see if everyone (anyone) has understood anything(everything).


We leave at 8:00 am sharp. (Yesterday's punishment worked). I and Sunil are going to Sunil's home village calle Hullayal with 3 teams, while our Veerupaksha Gowda is leaving for another one with 2 teams. All teams have 4-5 surveyors and one supervisor.

On reaching our village, we are received by the village ZP head and secretary. And yes, there is a ceremony. Over tea, we listen intently to speeches by a ZP member and Sunil.

The teams go on their "supposed transact"- a walk in the village, mapping the important place, identifying the main localities and estimating the population in these locaties and come back to the ZP office.

However even after an hour and half they are not back.

This is infuriariating. Only one team has any planning; the other two are just doing random interviewing. We again go through the plan - first the walk, then the mapping, followed by sampling- only then the interviewing begins.

I thought this was explained yesterday. Quickly, a crash course is organized, and the teams sent back. We are already a couple of hours behind.

Afer an hour, the teams arrive back; this time with the proper plan. They are still confused about sampling; I promise to explain in greater detail tomorrow.

The rest of the day goes to plan. We time the questionnaires - it takes anywhere between 30-40 minutes for each surveyor. Thats about reasonable. The ZP questionnaire and the village questionnaire are combined with the water testing "function" in the evening. All the water sources tested seem to be free of fluoride and nitrate.


All of head back to the hotel. Veerupaksha's team had done better. Their teams had worked to plan, and were busy analyzing their visit. Ours have to wait for tomorrow.

Tonight we all shall sleep well.

December 15, 2008

Last day. All of us have stories to tell about yesterday. I patientlly explain the sampling process again in Hindi. No translation. Everyone understands.

We discuss all the other points of the survey- role of supervisors, role of surveyors, quality control, camera operation, and preparation of the day-wise work plan.

The last lunch in Hubli. Every lunch has been a treat. I have savoured the authentic food from Uttar Kannada. Rotis made from Jowar, puran polis, and various forms of chutnies made me look forward to lunch every day. And I complain that I gain weight.


The second half is spent in two confusions - District survey plans and bills. I dont want to talk about bills- we all know the devil. The district survey plans look innocuous, but trying to match the timetables of 12-18 people is extremely complex.

The evening has turned into night. One district plan does not fit well. We might have to redo it again.

Haste helps me catch my return train ( and a few boxes of Dharwar Pedas from Mishra Sweets as well)





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