Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Research, research, research

Things have really been in full swing work-wise since our last blog post, both in and out the office. With our confidence and knowledge of disability sport reinforced by some of the preliminary visits in Ouagadougou, we started to properly consolidate our plans into professional format. We began by creating a research protocol to help guide our research process. This also proved to be a good opportunity to breakdown the process step-by-step and check whether or not we were making the right decisions. This was a lengthy task but has ultimately proved to be extremely worthwhile.

Our base

As mentioned in our previous post, it is difficult to get a lot of information here without a meet & greet, and visits have to be carried out to ensure organisations trust both the Federation and the project team. To provide organisations with as much information as possible, we made a presentation to be used on visits both in Ouagadougou and across the country to introduce ourselves, the project and the Federation. We’ve also produced questionnaires and some consent forms, for both the research itself and any media we collect, to ensure that anyone we meet during official visits will be reassured that their information will be used professionally.

Rachel, Laura, Steve and Rasmane have spent time visiting various disability sports equipment outlets, contacting UK-based organisations and researching online to determine the price of purchasing equipment for disability sports clubs. We have seen first-hand the challenges faced by many clubs regarding equipment – often the centres we have visited lack even a good quality football and struggle to maintain the facilities that they do have. This research has not been an easy task as a vast amount of equipment is needed, ranging from cones, to wheelchairs for sport at an elite level. People have been extremely helpful in pointing us in the right direction, especially the members of the Federation who we have been lucky enough to work with on a daily basis. We hope to compile a comprehensive list in order to raise funds to purchase such equipment. This will be found on the IS website soon, but for now here is a quick breakdown of some figures.

In our fourth week we were visited by representatives from Notts County Football in the Community and NPower. Dean, Gemma, Martin and Hannah provided valuable insights to every project they spent time with and gave us advice and information on topics ranging from disability sport to database creation, project planning and the effective use of social media. Hannah and Martin had raised £5000 before arriving in country and generously donated it to be spread across all International Service Projects here in Burkina Faso.

Continuing visits to Ouaga-based organisations have still proved to be incredibly useful and interesting; we are learning more and more about the level and capacities of disability sport and what questions we should be asking, meeting some incredible people along the way. Most clubs in Ouagadougou are relatively well established, but are still hugely lacking in resources. However, it is clear that funding and support has made a difference to the quality and amount of equipment they have and the facilities and training they have access to. We have found that it is really important to stress that clubs get precise figures on what they do have and who currently trains at their club, etc. as statistics and information are not regularly regarded. It has made us realise how much we take for granted the efficiency and ready availability of computer databases and records in the UK, which just don’t exist here.

Visits to Ouagadougou based organisations

An example of a long jump pit

Rich and Boukary were also able to attend a research workshop at the National Stadium on a recent study carried out by Coaching for Hope, another organisation working in sport and development in Burkina Faso. This study focused on the accessibility of sport for people with disabilities. It proved useful to hear their insights and findings, as well as the responses and criticisms by professors and other researchers within the room. We have taken on board some of their ideas (conducting focus groups, etc.) and have also reflected on some of our own research problems. A main concern of those attending the workshop was the Ouaga-centric nature of research into disability sport which we attempted to circumvent through planning to research across much of the country. This made us all the more anxious to hear back from IS HQ in Burkina about the budget for our visits, which fortunately proved to be good news.

Example pages of our questionnaire

When organising where we would be visiting across the country, our team split into two groups for cost and time effectiveness. Last week, Boukary, Steve, Rich and Ruth travelled to Bobo-Dioulasso (regularly referred to as Bobo) alongside Federation member Roger. Bobo is Burkina Faso’s second city, five hours southwest of Ouagadougou. The city itself is different from Ouaga in terms of climate and environment – there is a lot of greenery and wildlife, and Bobo really is a fascinating place with a great feel to it. Laura, Rachel, Rasmane and Mahamadi travelled with the Technical Director of the Federation, Henry, to both Koupela and Tenkodougou, towns a few hours south of Ouagadougou.

Our meetings in Bobo, Koupela and Tenkodougou were successful and provided a fantastic opportunity to look beyond how things work in the capital. The Federation had informed the clubs that we would be coming via an official letter, and instead of visiting all the clubs separately we tended to meet all the organisations in one place, for example, at a Regional Ministry for Sport. Once set up, the two teams each gave a presentation and the floor was opened to questions. After this discussion, we handed out the questionnaires, and provided assistance where it was needed i.e. for those who could not read or write. In Bobo, due to previous organisations not fulfilling promises, many questions were asked about the nature and longevity of our project, and rightly so. It showed us all how international development agencies must work effectively and be fully committed because of the legacy, both good and bad, they undoubtedly leave behind. We also discovered that the clubs had some concerns about the filtering down and distribution of equipment and resources, an issue which we recognise will need to be addressed. After the visit to Bobo, the Burkinabe members of Group A continued to Banfora to visit another club and conduct more research. Our visits provided an invaluable learning opportunity and we hope to build upon our collective experiences and fine-tune our research process as a whole for the future.

Steve with some medal-winning athletes in Bobo

In our free time, we have kept busy and have relished the opportunity to see a lot of the country on our visits outside of Ouagadougou. Ouagadougou itself has an array of sights and museums to explore and we have enjoyed having the opportunity to visit these. The 5th August is a national holiday in Burkina Faso, celebrating the country’s independence from France in 1960. Each year a football match is held in the National Stadium, which we were lucky enough to attend. The atmosphere was incredible. In the weekend leading up to the public holiday, we were also able to attend the National Athletics Championships. Seeing these top athletes in action has spurred us to make the National Paralympic Championships just as successful later this year, and disability sport in general the best it can be.

National Stadium and football match 

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