5 things I’ve learnt evaluating a sport for sexual health project in Tanzania

by Sara Begg, CWB Head of Monitoring and Evaluation

Taking the lead on Monitoring and Evaluation at Cricket Without Boundaries last year has been a fantastic learning experience, I’ve had the chance to combine my inherent nerdery with my love of cricket and health education to help the charity get a sense of how well the CWB method works to share HIV messages, and find out what kind of existing knowledge and mythology exists in the areas we work in.

It has also opened up doors to some amazing opportunities, not least the chance to spend 2 months in Arusha, Tanzania, evaluating Scottish charity Yes!Tanzania’s Community Sport and Sexual Health project. The research is part of my Masters dissertation, but I’ve also learnt plenty of key things that will hopefully benefit CWB in the months and years ahead. Here are my top 5!

  1. Young people want to learn things that are meaningful to them

The Yes!Tanzania project is based around 10 messages about HIV, delivered through multi-sport activities. When I’ve spoken to participants in focus group discussion and interviews the games they’ve really enjoyed, the ones that stuck with them, are those where the messages have really connected with their own experiences. Transactional sex is recognised as a very real problem in Tanzania, and has an acknowledged role in the HIV epidemic. Every single group I spoke with mentioned the game Sugar Daddy/Sugar Mummy, which tackled this issue. Everyone connected it to their own experience of being called at and enticed with treats on their walk home, or the experience of their female friends. In other words: context and relevance matters.

  1. A little AWOOGA goes a long way

I’ve not had much chance to do CWB style coaching while I have been here: too much time interviewing, report writing, and eating (see: point 4). But when I have done I’ve been sure to throw in some signature CWB AWOOGAs. It seems to stick, I’ve even had AWOOGA shouted at me of the window of local minibuses (“daladalas”). What’s my point? I suppose it’s that joyful, positive coaching sticks in the mind of young people. Particularly in contexts where exposure to this style of coaching is often non-existent. In many ways, just creating this positive, happy atmosphere is valuable in itself. And I believe that it also creates a better atmosphere for learning things like HIV prevention messages. So here’s an AWOOGA in celebration of positive coaching!

  1. Sport-specific delivery might promote long term engagement

As I mentioned earlier, Yes!Tanzania’s current programme is based on multi-sport delivery to get the messages across. These mini games are great for getting everyone included, and perfect for one off sessions of festivals. But when young people are playing the same games every week boredom and disengagement begin to creep in. Students I spoke to hankered after skills mastery, developing their strength, and competitive opportunities. Sport-specific message delivery might mitigate this challenge, as students benefit from the physical, mental and social benefits of structured sport while still being exposed to “messages through sport”. This, of course, comes with the caveat of still promoting inclusion. See my point above about positive coaching!

  1. East Africa is the king of egg and chip based foods

Masala chips, Rolex, chips mayai. East Africa does eggs and chips very very well. I fell in love with Rolex (a thin egg omelette rolled up in a chapatti – roll-eggs!) and masala chips (chips fried in masala spices with onion and peppers) in Uganda in 2015. I thought I had reached the egg and chip pinnacle until I arrived in Tanzania and had chips mayai. A chip omelette, with finely diced vegetables in the eggs, and topped with sautéed cabbage if you are eating “in”. Sensational food, and you can get one with a bottle of soda (always Krest Bitter Lemon) for a princely 3,000Tsh – £1.25! A food van in trendy East London beckons; East meets East?

  1. Evaluation is challenging, but the rewards are rich

In particular, qualitative evaluation to understand what parts of sport for development delivery are making a difference to participant knowledge and behaviour, and finding out why. CWB have already begun exploring qualitative evaluation methods that can be integrated into a CWB session (see my blog here) but as I have progressed through this evaluation I have become increasingly aware of the importance of the needs, knowledge and misconceptions of young people being used to shape delivery, so the messages we share are relevant and so that the games we play are enjoyable and engaging.

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