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11 June 2014

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Ah, Dom, that was the guiding principle behind the many question we asked. We also explained why were doing the interview and currently the report is underway ready for delivery to the community and then we'll see what to do next.

Anyway what you said is very true. Most of the reports are made because of self-benefit and the reports are pushed down by other reports and the people tire of waiting.

Now that the students have the information perhaps they should be charged with another project - coming up with a plan for the villagers to improve their water supply themselves.

Yep we did, and they told us that they have made 12 laws to guide their community in terms of dealling with social issues and to guide the community and was approved by their LLG. (that is alone the last line from where I see.)

Hi Ishmael, unfortunately what you describe is all too common in PNG - people are interviewed and then we disappear with the information.

There is little feedback and less improvement in the circumstances which called for the interview - what we needed their views about.

Most times when we are students the information is eventually put in a report with the aim of getting us good grades, after which the report is discarded or collects dust somewhere.

An employed person may be forced to report the information for the sake of keeping his/her job. They do this hoping either (a) it's good enough for the boss to accept and (b) the information is used productively (maybe).

Their boss may have an obligation to report the findings to a donor who funded the interview program. The report may be important to (a) satisfy the 'overlords' that the boss too is working or (b) provide evidence to show that 'we know what we're doing and where the problems are'.

Finally, when the donor or 'overlord' gets the report it might be put to use or it might be placed on the 'too difficult tray' or it may float around in the flotsam of a thousand other reports.

Usually, with socio-economic or community surveys, the information should eventually get to the LLG council, local MP, the DA or the Provincial leaders and Governor. In fact, one would think that it should be their business to read any report that is generated from the interviews of their constituents.

Perhaps that reading should be made a law, with an examination to determine if the material was read and understood. If the penalty of failure is death that might yield some interesting results in PNG leadership behaviour, but then again it might not.

It's not the information, but what we do with it that counts.

Every survey, interview or group meeting to garner information from people whould have an actionable objective and deliverables.

You need to tell the people:

1. Why you are doing the interview (Purpose)

2. What you are going to do with the information (Objective)

3. How this information will be useful to you and to them (Deliverables)

4. When they can expect some feedback or copy of report from you (Time phase for delivery)

If you can answer these four queries with confidence that something will come of them (i.e. a goal will be achieved) then go ahead with the interview. If not, then forget it.

Remember, the goal is not (a) the experience and interaction gained(b) the information obtained in written notes (c) the report drafted (d) the report sent to a higher office (e) conclusions drawn from the report (f) recommendations from the report or (g) publication of the report.

The goal is to move the community to another state, e.g. in your scenario 'what do people value most in their lives', then how does your interview contribute to ensuring that they attain or maintain what it is that they value?

If you can answer that, then the interview was worth the time and effort of the villagers.

I like the closing comments "It is better that we start and maybe then those outside elements can help us." But I wonder if the student researchers tried to convey that message to the people they interviewed?

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