Training- in the field

After about a week of training in the TERI office, we took our selected team of enumerators to the field.

Here I am with some of them – imagine the heat! It was 115-120, and I quickly learned to bring about 4 liters of water to make it through the day. I don’t know what I would do without the hat you gave me, Mom! This thing is an absolutely lifesaver. In these villages, it is essentially a requirement to wear a kurta (long top) with a duperta (scarf over chest), or a sari. Men wear long pants and either long sleeve shirts or t-shirts (more casual). Village men also wear a dhoti (I forget what it is called up north, but that is the term for it in the south).


After being placed in a household by their supervisor, the enumerator begins the survey. On our first day we quickly realized some of the complications our study would face. If our enumerator was male, when we asked to speak with the primary cook, the head of household would reply something like “You want to speak with my woman?” And often forbid it. I sat in on many interviews where the primary cook sat next to the head of the household but didn’t speak, and the head of household answered the survey questions. (We record who is the respondent for each section.)  So, it was extra clear why we had initially wanted to use female enumerators.

They can talk to the cooks so easily. Several of our stars get along so well with them, speak in the village dialect, just plop right down on the floor next to them, etc.


We don’t take health measurements in the survey other than mid-upper arm circumference, which Asha is doing here.


Many times the giant extended family observes the interview. In this muslim village, household sizes were often above 18! Asha is in the center – this was her first interview, which took almost 3 hours. Now that she’s had much more experience, she can do it in one hour.


Here’s one of our male enumerators at work, showing a respondent one of the conjoint cards (used to help us understand their preference for different stove characteristics).



I love heading to the villages with the team. We all pack lunches (to save on transit time by eliminating the need for a lunch break) and come home covered in sweat and dust. Sitting for an hour or more for each interview in the heat just feeling sweat issuing from every pore isn’t pleasant, but I’m definitely getting used to it! And of course, it’s harder for the enums, who are busy trying to keep the household engaged and responsive.

IMG_2212When return to the office, after giving a debrief to the team, there’s only one thing we want – watermelon! I don’t have any good pictures of us eating watermelon because as soon as it is cut open we devour it (usually in one sitting). We leave the watermelon in the fridge while we’re in the field, so it’s the coolest treat possible in Jagdishpur.

As Vasu says, the watermelon keeps us all from going crazy out here! Life without it would be tough 🙂

5 thoughts on “Training- in the field

  1. I just got a watermelon too! sounds like you’re enjoying your adventures, your stories are so interesting! xoxo

  2. I love the photos of the families! Perhaps they will talk about “The Day the Stove Survey People Came to Visit” for a long time, as something rare and unusual.
    And they will all think, Why don’t we have hats like that?

    • It’s true that having a group of outsiders (and particularly if there are foreigners present) is quite an unusual event in the village, and part of the reason they may agree to a survey as long as ours is because of the novelty of it. We get some very interesting reactions – when arriving at one house, the woman said, “You want to about my stoves? I use the mud stove. End of interview!”


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