ORB’s Cutting Edge Research Methods Foster Deep Understanding of Violent Extremism in the Sahel 2 months ago

ORB International has conducted extensive research across the Sahel region since 2009.
Our work has covered a wide range of topics including politics and democracy, health, violent extremism
 (VE), water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and livelihoods. To date, ORB has conducted 177,300 interviews and 334 focus groups within several monitoring and evaluation projects with partners including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, MSI, and the Department for International Development. We have become a leading research organization in the region by focusing on innovation in research methods and techniques, capacity building with local partners to gain valuable local and contextualized knowledge, and an unwavering commitment to high quality data.

Approach 

  • Trusted partnerships: We have developed long-term partnerships with local partners who have a proven history of delivering high-quality data. 
  • Innovative sampling to capture current population trends: We have developed solutions to accurately sample a region in which rapid population change and migration means census data quickly becomes outdated. 
  • Rigorous quality control procedures: We combine traditional and new quality control procedures such as software checks, GPS tagging and remote listening to identify problematic data in real time. 
  • Extensive Sahel research experience: Our team includes several fluent French speakers and experts with over 190 combined years of experience, and 12 years of direct experience researching conditions on the ground across the region.  

Cutting-Edge Methodology 

ORB learns, innovates, and provides leadership and expertise in studying violent extremism. To that end, we utilize a novel qualitative methodology: Community Generated Indicators (CGI). First implemented by ORB in the Sahel in 2019, CGI is a participatory research approach for identifying indicators of complex concepts such as peace and violent extremism as defined by the community. These indicators are then ranked by importance to community members through a voting process. Each community list is compiled, categorized, and analyzed to track trends across communities and time. CGI allows researchers to develop a clearer picture of peace and conflict in communities under threat.  

ORB employed the CGI approach to collect micro-local and hyper contextualized data for recent reports for USAID in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso on trends in peace and VE indicators.  

In Niger, ORB studied the villages of Ayorou, Abala, Ouallam, Téra, and Petel-Kolé in the Tillabéri region. Residents highlighted VE indicators such as the visibility of organized crime, frequent acts of violence by non-state armed groups, mass unemployment, violence between farmers and herders, and the inability to access food and water as the most important problems. Residents pointed to an emphasis on social cohesion and community building through Islam and public awareness campaigns as important indicators for peace.  

In the Mopti region of central Mali, ORB employed CGI in the villages of Bandiagara, Bankass, Koro, Konna, and Djenné. Community members highlighted restrictions on mobility, acts of violence and other criminal activity, and hindrances to going about one’s daily affairs as most important VE indicators. Peace indicators included coexistence between distinct communities, joint participation in ceremonies and activities, interethnic marriage, and the presence of security forces.  

In the Burkinabe region of Liptako-Gourma, ORB utilized CGI in the villages of Djibo, Gorgadji, Gorom-Gorom, Markoye, and Pobe Mengao. Residents elected high levels of psychological distress, attacks against administrators and religious congregation by violent extremist organizations, abuses against citizens by Burkinabe security forces, and the forced migration of teachers, local leaders, merchants, and healthcare workers as indicators of violent extremism. With regard to peace indicators, residents noted intercommunity relationships between distinct ethnic and religious groups, mutual assistance and solidarity, and cooperation in community-wide activities as most important.  

Sentiment Analysis  

ORB has conducted several sentiment analysis projects across the Sahel. ORB conducts an annual study (from 2009) of several countries in the Sahel region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali) to measure public opinion on governance, economic conditions, media habits, and perceptions towards the United States through nationally representative samples for each country. ORB also engages in country-specific sentiment analysis, conducting studies measuring support for presidential candidates leading up to the 2019 general elections in Nigeria as well as pre-electoral studies on general political knowledge, corruption, and governance in Niger in summer 2020. ORB is currently conducting fieldwork in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania to study economic development and communications. 

Third Party Monitoring  

ORB is conducting monthly monitoring activities around the USAID/OFDA Food for Peace (FFP) initiative and other USAID programs including qualitative and quantitative data gathering over a 5-year program including verification visits, interviewing, and quantitative surveying covering sectors of WASH, health, food security, and livelihoods. With our partner MSI, we have been lauded for our abilities to collect data despite COVID-19 challenges in 3 states in Northeastern Nigeria currently in humanitarian crisis, Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.  


About ORB 

ORB International is a small business operating in 116 countries around the world providing monitoring and evaluation, nationally representative surveys, rapid assessments and specialized research in complex environments. Utilizing a data-centric and quality-first model, our primary focus is mixed-methods social and political research including the topics of counter-violent-extremism, governance, and working with vulnerable populations. 

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