We are proud to share some of Laterite’s achievements from 2021. Our team continued to deliver high-quality, impactful research against the backdrop of another demanding year.
Bouncing back, with renewed ambition
The strategic goal we set for ourselves for 2021 was to bounce back from a 2020 defined by COVID-19, with renewed ambition to deliver insightful research and innovate with every opportunity. And to do all this in a way that was safe for our respondents and teams.
In 2021, Laterite got back to work big time and saw a 40% increase in operations compared to pre-pandemic levels. We deployed 1,200 enumerators over 26,000 days to conduct over 80,000 interviews for 18 research projects. Being able to provide job opportunities to an average of almost 100 enumerators per working day in 2021 is something we are very proud of.
Insightful research remained our focus
In 2021, our teams also worked to deliver high-quality analysis and insights through our more research-oriented projects. A paragraph is not enough space to do justice to all our projects, but here are some examples:
→ We published 14 papers with the REAL Centre at the University of Cambridge on the factors associated with teaching quality in Rwandan secondary education as part of our ongoing engagement as learning partners for Leaders in Teaching.
→ We continued to deepen our work in the coffee sector. For example, our teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda completed ten rounds of phone surveys with smallholder coffee farmers to understand how they were impacted throughout the pandemic; we learned about success factors in a pilot of a program to incentivize smallholder coffee farmers to stump their trees to improve yield in Ethiopia; and we delivered evaluations of coffee farmer college programs, like this one in Uganda.
→ We launched three research projects on gender and nutrition in agriculture programs, and in the process we learned about teff farming in Ethiopia and about how agricultural institutions responded to COVID-19.
We invested in innovations
This year saw a big push for Laterite’s innovation agenda with a new in-house Innovations Team and kick-started some exciting developments to be announced in 2022. On the project side we have also been experimenting with new types of services, for example supporting clients to develop a digital data ecosystem to clean, organize and disseminate data on education programs using PowerBI. In parallel, our team continues to implement incremental improvements to the work we do, see for example the Laterite guide to
the universe R-Shiny dashboards, and using inter-rater reliability to reduce bias in surveys and improve data quality.
We worked responsibly and carefully managed difficult situations
In the context of COVID-19, we feel responsible as an organization to ensure that we protect our respondents and teams to the best of our ability. Our Data Team worked to develop and implement our COVID-19 protocols which were then successfully put to the test when restrictions began to ease across East Africa in early 2021. As always, obtaining local approvals and being gender-sensitive in our approach to data collection remained priorities for us.
COVID was not the only challenge our teams faced. We would particularly like to acknowledge the hard work and outstanding decision-making of our team and enumerators in Ethiopia, who have been faced with particularly difficult circumstances as the conflict in the country intensified over the course of the year – both personally and professionally. We continue to monitor the situation to make sure we are doing everything we can to put the health and safety of our team and our respondents first.
We celebrated the achievements of our team, past and present
In 2021, we caught up with Laterite alumni who are going from strength to strength in their careers as a Data Scientist at Ericsson, a Digital Analyst at Swedbank, and a post-doc at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. We welcomed many new people to all of our offices this year in our research, data quality and data teams, and launched a new program track to support project management across our offices. We also said a fond farewell to several team members who are taking exciting next steps in their careers. For example Data Manager Jean-Baptiste Muhoza is now completing a Master’s in Spatial Planning for Regions in Growing Economies at TU Dortmund, and Beatrice Ani-Asamoah shared her story about her career journey and her insights about education research in sub-Saharan Africa before moving to a role in program implementation.
And finally: we opened our new Tanzania office
We ended the year on a high with the announcement of our new office in Dar es Salaam. Laterite Tanzania will expand the reach of our services across East Africa and our commitment to being a research partner for research and data collection projects in the region. Ravina Pattni, Research Associate in Laterite Tanzania and a Tanzanian herself, shared her thoughts on what the return home means for her personally as well for the research ecosystem in the country.
We wish all our friends, clients, colleagues and partners a safe and relaxing holiday break, and look forward to starting 2022 with new collaborations for social impact in East Africa.