Research work needs to be well prepared and trained in advance to ensure methodological transparency and reliability. But what to do when the research area is thousands of kilometers away in Africa, and the data collection time is limited?
The WoodCluster project team arranged a theoretical and practical training at the TU Dresden campus for three students that conduct their final thesis research in the partner countries, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. The studies serve as country specific baseline studies which is a quintessential element in the WoodCluster project. The baseline study should provide a profile of the current environmental and social situation in the selected project areas which helps to design and plan project interventions. Therefore, the students training consisted of two parts: environmental and socio-economic methods.
In February, Dr. Haubold from the Geography department held a two-days training on land use classification with refreshing the students skills on GIS (Geographic Information System), and soil sciences including a hands-on session collecting soil samples around the main TUD campus. Dr. Haubold supports the WoodCluster project and has longstanding professional experiences physical environmental research in Ethiopia. Besides these technical expertise, he also shared some insights on possible circumstances and cultural considerations that may await them in the African study sites and countries. Cultural awareness is also as important, so that the students can establish a friendly relationship and cooperation with the local people, who are central for the WoodCluster project.
In the second training part, the interviews with local government key informants and farmers’ households were introduced and explained It shall reveal characteristics of the village and single households with looking at land use and distribution among farmers, institutions, social organization, infrastructure, household assets and activities. Steps linked to the preparation and conduction of the interviews in the field were additionally discussed.
The baseline study training enhanced the knowledge as well as the project network of the students and the WoodCluster project team. It serves two purposes: capacity building for students for conducting research work and create a fundamental information base for the following project interventions.
By Kendisha Hintz