During this first year, the development and first evaluation of HESPER Web has been successful. We have developed the survey itself and tested its reliability in two populations; newly arrived asylum seekers in Sweden, and people who live in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
To conduct research studies in other countries, it is important that the research team pays special attention to potential legal, cultural, or other differences. The collaboration with local colleagues and partners has been essential for us in many ways. First, we needed their knowledge and experience to overcome necessary administrative and legal procedures and get permission to conduct the study at all. Our colleagues from the International Leadership University in Nairobi knew which forms that needed to be filled in, stamped and sent to the right authority. Fees needs to be paid, often in cash, and that would not have been possible without their collaboration. Second, our cooperation with the local university and UNHCR Kenya office was essential in order to make practical arrangements for the actual data collection procedure. Third, the collaboration between the research team, local colleagues and representatives was necessary in order to ensure that we conducted the research study appropriately with regards to local conventions.
We also recruited local assistants to support with the data collections in the field. Mainly, these were young adult students, living in the Dadaab themselves, and therefore having experiences and knowledge of the local contexts. They contributed in practice to the actual data collections; but also gave their personal perspectives and reflections on the project itself, both during training and afterwards. From a scientific perspective, hiring local team members that are part of the community has meant that we got a second reliability check on the instrument itself. From a collegial perspective, offering young adults to be part of a research team for a limited time has stimulated their interest in the aims of the research, which we hope will lead to future knowledge and evidence being generated locally. As one of the female local research assistants, a 25 year old medical student, said; “I feel proud to be part of this. A real research study. I can put this in my curriculum now, and I think, maybe in the future, I can be a researcher myself”.
We now have promising results from both the Swedish and the Kenyan study, and we are currently compiling the results. We are also planning for a third test of HESPER Web, in a new context. We will take on board the positive lessons learned from collaboration with local colleagues on the ground, as well as the contributions of community to our research, onwards with us in this planning process.
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