Sampling for the Midterm Review in Malawi – The Summer Intern Blog Series

The Aim of the Midterm Review:

Pathways Malawi is gearing up for the mid-term review (MTR), which seeks to understand changes in Pathways’ communities around women’s household influence and an enabling environment for women. Specifically, Pathways is interested in understanding how Malawian men and women define an “empowered woman,” equitable decision making, and the success of the Pathways Project. To obtain this information, CARE has elected to use qualitative methods: focus group discussions and interviews.

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 Above, a Farmer to Farmer Trainer (FFT) leans forward to hear the purpose of the Midterm Review (MTR)

Preparing Pathways for Focus Groups:

To select participants for the focus group discussions and interviews, Pathways began by hosting a meeting with Famer to Farmer Trainers (FFTs) on June 20 in Kasungu. FFTs lead producer groups made up of smallholder female farmers.  Mid-term review participants will be comprised of these members.

The main goal of the meeting was to train the FFTs to fill out a spreadsheet with the names and information concerning impact groups that farmers from different producer groups fall into. The mid-term review has several impact groups in Malawi:

  • Women in male-headed, female-headed, and polygamous households that participate in Pathways
  • Community leaders (religious, cultural, and community)
  • Spouses of Village Savings and Loan Associations members who participate in Pathways
  • Male Champions, who advocate for the empowerment of women

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  Above, Lilian Mpama gives directions to 45 Farmer to Farmer Trainers (FFTs)

Lilian Mpama, Pathways Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, facilitated the meeting with 27 women and 18 men FFTs. After an introductory prayer, Lilian described the logistics and purpose of the MTR. When describing the impact groups, there was debate about who are community leaders. Are headmasters community leaders? What about agricultural extension agents? There was also shared concern about not finding enough “male champions” – or men who support the empowerment of women in their communities. Many FFTs expressed concerned that there would not be enough participants within his or her set of producer groups to meet the goal of 8 to 10 participants – male champions in this case – per focus group. We overcame this concern by combining participants from several different producer groups.

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 Above, Farmer to Farmer Trainers (FFTs) look over the spreadsheets together

Sampling Methodology:

Over sodas (Coca-Cola and Fanta are favorites here), each FFT was directed to fill out the spreadsheet and return the sheets to their CARE Field Adviser. Once CARE staff in Kasungu enter the information, they send a copy to us – staff and interns – in Lilongwe so we can start sampling. We use a variety of methods to get the research sample. First, we select an FFT and his or her producer groups. This method is called cluster sampling, which means sampling from a preexisting group (i.e. producer group). Second, we use stratified sampling to identify individuals that make up the impact group within the cluster of producer groups. Finally, we use random sampling to select participants from the stratified sample for the focus group discussion. Data collection starts on July 13, and we are looking forward to learning more about Pathways’ impact in Malawi.


Written by Lauren Godfrey, CARE Intern, Malawi
Edited by Melissa Jennings, CARE Intern, Malawi