Quantitative data collection with adolescents in Ethiopia

Interviewing 10,000 adolescents in Ethiopia

Quantitative data collection partner for Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) in Ethiopia


Laterite is the quantitative data collection partner for Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) in Ethiopia. GAGE is the largest global study on adolescents, following approximately 20,000 girls and boys in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Nepal, Jordan and Lebanon to understand what works to enhance adolescent capabilities and empowerment. More than 10,000 of these young people are located in Ethiopia. GAGE is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and managed by ODI.

ODI is conducting a longitudinal study that consists of two components:

  1. A randomized evaluation of the Act With Her programme, to understand the impact of multi-level programming, provided by Pathfinder and CARE Ethiopia, aimed at gender norm transformation on adolescents, caregivers, and their communities. In particular, GAGE focuses on impacts on individual attitudes towards gender, and short and long-term adolescent outcomes in education, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, bodily integrity, psychosocial wellbeing, economic empowerment, and voice and agency in rural Amhara, Oromia, and Afar regions.
  2. A component which follows adolescents in rural, urban, and pastoralist areas (in Amhara, Oromia, Afar, and the Dire Dawa city administration) to understand their unique challenges and how these are evolving over time.

Since 2019, Laterite has led three rounds of in-person data collection with more than 10,000 adolescent girls and boys in Ethiopia, as well as their adult female caregivers, encompassing both components of this project. Laterite has also led phone surveys with sub-samples of respondents in urban areas focusing primarily on impacts of COVID-19 on the communities followed by the programme.

From 2020 onwards, we had to adjust our approach to data collection during an unstable period following the national election, COVID-19 lockdowns, and recurring violent conflict within the country.



A global pandemic and active national conflict called for the highest possible level of care from our teams, both in terms of logistics and dealing with the emotional and psychosocial status of the respondents. Since our first interviews in 2019, some adolescents had lost family members, dropped out of school, lost their jobs or had to flee for an extended period of time. It was critical to hear from these same respondents to understand how they were coping, and to support research partners and implementers to develop programming tailored to their needs. We therefore incorporated three safeguards into our data collection procedures:

A strict COVID-19 protocol

Ever since we resumed in-person data collection in 2021 our teams have followed a strict COVID-19 protocol to ensure enumerator and respondent safety.

Daily check-ins with the field teams, local officials and the ODI/GAGE team

We organized daily check-ins with local officials and GAGE’s qualitative research team, who were in close contact with project implementers, to assess security conditions in the study areas. Each day our field teams would also share whether they felt comfortable to continue with data collection based on the conditions at the time. We shared this feedback daily with the ODI/GAGE team to decide whether to continue data collection in a specific area.

We did not hesitate to pause or postpone data collection when security conditions were deemed too fragile. At the end of 2021, we pulled back our data collection teams in East Hararghe when the conflict between Tigray Defence Force, the Oromia Liberation Army and the National Defense forces, which started in November 2021, expanded and moved closer to the capital, Addis Ababa. We decided not to go to Afar at all due to security concerns.

Extensive tracking procedures

Times of conflict and uncertainty meant that respondents were more likely than usual to have moved from their original place of residence. A dedicated sub-team completed an intensive tracking period to locate these respondents. When respondents had moved, we tried to complete interviews over the phone with an adjusted version of the survey that excluded sensitive questions.
These measures were in addition to our standard safety and ethical protocols, including:

  • Continuity for respondents: the same enumerator interviewed a certain respondent over multiple rounds whenever possible to facilitate trust between the enumerator and the young respondent.
  • Gender matching: we paired enumerators to respondents of the same gender, given sensitive questions in the survey.
  • Thorough training: We provided extensive training to enumerators on how to conduct surveys with questions on sensitive topics, such as how to appropriately inquire about sexual or (domestic) violence, among others.



Between November 2019 and March 2022, a volatile period including a global pandemic, national elections, and regional violent conflict, five full-time Laterite staff and 68 contract team members:

  • Completed ~23,000 interviews with ~10,000 different adolescents in six regions in Ethiopia
  • Tracked and revisited at least ~6,600 adolescents in person between midline and endline
  • Engaged ~4,000 new adolescents for participation in a new study component.

Our efforts, care and flexibility paid off: our team members remained safe, none experienced COVID symptoms, and there were no reports of respondents falling ill following interviews. We were able to safely and efficiently collect high quality data for the GAGE research team. This data has formed the basis of important research into gendered impacts of COVID-19 on adolescent wellbeing, and adolescent girls’ and women’s economic and social empowerment, among others. Studies like these contribute to a growing body of evidence that helps improve programs and conditions to support adolescents in vulnerable situations to have a brighter future.

Read more research findings from the GAGE programme.

Cover image: Photo taken in Babile woreda by Mats Hoppenbrouwers