Training Programme in Kenya: Workshop notes

On Wednesday 17th May, the Kenya project team came together (Sarah R-J, Anna O, and Elizabeth N) in Nairobi to discuss the methodology for the project and plan our work with the Moving Energy Initiative in Kenya. We were supported by Charlotte Ray from the University of Edinburgh core team. The below offers some of the notes and thoughts created during that meeting.


Methodology overview – discussions from Burkina Faso workshop and events

What is the focus of the fieldwork trips to Kakuma in May, June and July 2017:

  • Pilot trip undertaken by Anna during May
  • Second data collection during May 29th trip (Sarah R-J and Anna to attend)
  • Third data collection: two weeks in late June (Anna and Elizabeth to attend)
  • Four data collection: two weeks in late July (Anna and Elizabeth to attend)
  • To note: Kenya elections the week of 7th August, so no field trips possible then for two weeks post-election
  • Fifth data collection: 10 days weeks in early Sept (Anna and Sarah to attend)
  • Country data finalisation: by end of September

We will undertake:

  • Sites and market visits – planning and qualitative data gathering
  • Going beyond social science – building stories, narratives, and exchange between people
  • Capturing information in a qualitative, lived experiences and detailed meaning
  • Exploring methods that help uncover and reveal why and how people use energy
  • Energy practices focus at household and community / SME levels
  • Capturing 50 stories – what are the proportions of this?

Activities suggested and examples of activities undertaken in Burkina workshop

  • Following activities – eg from Burkina Faso: spilt off into two teams and ‘practice’ methodology in Nairobi. How people use electricity: Laundry room explorations, central market field trips, object network diagrams, in-depth case studies
  • About the process of qualitative research: about interactions and dialogue
  • How do we do this = beyond electricity: what types of energy seeing
  • Then going outside: market trips, hotel manager discussions, gardeners, different types of people
  • Need to ‘train your eyes’: looking beyond the obvious, beyond electricity
  • Working as a team: come back together after spilt off into groups
  • How do we talk about these things and record?

Specific areas of focus: Lighting, Cooking and Charging

  • Lighting: discussions of types of lights, not just talking about energy – eg cleanliness, garden lights softer. Looking at lights and objects.
  • “Follow the wires” - Could track the history of energy use from the wire pathways. Lots of disused and old wires, and then following the different pathways to routers, lights, etc. Points of the connection, eg. at the fuse box, at the projector, at the light.
  • Then build on activity: go back to offices/central space, re-look with new eyes.
  • Brainstorming diagrams: Lighting, Cooking, Charging. Drawing of image of solar lanterns, composite materials, day and night differences, places of origin (sun, China), sites of production, handles, diesel, scotch tape, radio. Starting from the light itself and then moving to the more fundamental understandings.
  • Come together to discuss, literature on lighting – what is missing? Missing masses, but also “missing connections.” How we utilise and how hang lights, who uses, where buy from? What is missing from broader literature? And then pin down elements we should pin down specifics for the research – focus.
  • Charging: where are people going to charge – how are they getting to?
  • Transport is also energy – motorbikes, power, rules, plug sockets. Also, charging is not free – mobile money ‘invisible energy object and networks’: eg mobile connections and mobile payments.

How to deliver this type of research

  • Style of conversation: when conversation ends – what to do? Then start discussing with next person. Asks to re-intact starting the day. What do you love / passionate about – find which things people are passionate about and wanting to know about people. Be part of their world and see energy within that. How people open-up and describe their jobs, activities, how modifies tools and engages with ‘energy’ appliances. More natural way of interviewing.
  • Visiting market-place – aim of finding something and someone: off in teams and the starting to engage (slowly) and started with energy specific products. Then looking at process and other examples: tracing the story of tea. What is the object in that chain? Spatiality of things – What are you looking for? If stoves, only a couple of sellers, but tea, instead, is sold almost everywhere. ‘Domestic’ objects available everywhere. Middle men and middle things, very important.
  • Look for “supporter energy objects”, like the scotch tapes – lists of objects that are ‘connected’ to energy. Very important the role of these in people’s lives – wires, connectors, USB chargers / HDMI connectors.
  • Focus – be narrow and connected – For instance, it is not just about the stove, but the finer details: the handles and the food. Focused the object network diagrams activities.
  • So for now – keep big lists of all “supporter energy objects” and then focus down on objects that are almost always present, such as chargers, wires, scotch tapes.
  • Examine what is ‘missing’ from these discussions: refugees, people. What do they think of these? Which are their understandings and priorities?
  • Undertake in-depth case studies of places, eg: markets and restaurants. Always make notes, and record all the feelings / interactions – reflective process and highly descriptive. But also sensitive towards people – avoid quizzing, rather enhance a warm conversation, taking an interest in people’s lives – not just energy technologies but their whole life. It is important to not making people feel over-surveyed.
  • Visit solar/energy places, like solar café – have also a parabolic view of café places and, then, smaller safe with solar cafés. Always remember to follow the objects: batteries and connections, abundance of wires, etc.
  • Understand processes and engage with people while they use energy, restaurant and tea making practices: tea, cooking, Maddo and cleaning practices in Burkina Faso.
  • Note – sometimes focus groups aren’t that useful: limit the sort of things we can ask, doesn’t allow for free flow of information. 
  • Note – Still with current energy practices: why currently use. When low-carbon energy projects start-up opportunity, observe if / how technologies change.
dirty dishes pot 2.jpg

 Organising data – suggestions so far

  • Use of paper, notebooks, mobile phones, and dictaphones
  • Transcripts
  • Write up after interactions – name things and write stories, being creative when you feel like it.
  • How to write-up – be guided by people themselves and what they think is important – people as their own ethnographers and researchers
  • Observations and recording

What doing in the camps – where to visit? Suggested spaces

  • Households, schools, markets, clinics
  • Follow the object discussions – led by people
  • Object network diagrams – brainstorming diagrams with people
  • In-depth case studies of places / spaces – specifics