Here in Kenya, our team is focused on transferring money to as many poor households as possible. So, in March of this year, we made a significant change to our field model that allows us to reach more households than ever before.
Our process of identifying recipients and transferring funds involves several distinct stages, each of which has its own team of field officers and which must be completed before the next can begin. In our old model, we only had one team in the field at any given time, which meant that one stage had to be completed in its entirety before the next team could begin. Although this worked for a period, it limited how many recipients we could enroll in, say, a month or year. Once we felt that we had learned enough about how to execute each step, and had more predictable funding, we wanted to build a model that was easily scalable and that would enable us to increase our throughput.
As soon as we had secured enough funding earlier this year, we developed what we now call the rolling model, the main component of which is having teams overlap in the field. We now have an average of 15 field officers – three teams – in the field on any given day. As such, the various stages run concurrently, ensuring steady initiation of new recipients into the program. As one team (e.g. census) completes its work in one village and moves to the next, the subsequent team (in this case, registration) can move in and begin its work. With this new model, we are currently bringing on an average of 1,000 new households each month.
Another important benefit of the new model is that we can retain the very best staff – our contracts now range from four months for field officers to a year for senior field officers. Up until relatively recently, we would recruit and deploy new teams for each pot of funding; now, we can keep the same teams for longer and maintain a relatively high throughput rate.
To do this, we had to address several challenges, including coordinating multiple teams in the field and making sure that there was just enough of a lag between them. We also had to prepare to handle a substantially larger volume of data, which would now be coming in from three different teams on any given day. My role, Project Associate, was created to ensure we could manage the field teams and maintain a consistent and efficient data flow.
Taking on this brand-new role has meant that I face unanticipated challenges every day. But with a team of exceptional field officers as colleagues, in May and June we successfully enrolled the first 2,000 households under the rolling system. We’re on track to enroll another 5,000 by year-end; by then, we’ll be a well-oiled machine.