Dear Friends of the CROWN Project,

It’s hard to believe we’re two months out from our first-ever annual convening! As many of you know, I came on to the CROWN team just a couple of weeks before, but it has been incredible to see the progress the country teams have made in such a short amount of time. In this month’s CROWN Chronicles, we are excited to highlight updates from our Ethiopia team!

I’ll keep this month’s opening letter short and sweet, but read on below to see what the our colleagues at the JHU Center for Communications Program (CCP) in Ethiopia have been up to this month, as well as learn a little more about CCP’s very own Monitoring and Evaluation guru, Yihunie Tarekegn.

The Baltimore-based CROWN team is continuing to update the CROWN website, social media platforms, and knowledge-sharing databases, so keep your eyes peeled for updates on each of those platforms soon.

All the best,

Daryl Stephens
CROWN Program Manager

Updates from the field: Ethiopia

After the Convening workshop, the Ethiopian CROWN team held an internal meeting involving the project senior management that identified main takeaways of the workshop and discussed on how to incorporate the lessons obtained from the workshop. From these learnings, the following changes were made:

  • Evaluation plan: Standardization of measurements of IFA adherence, gender norms, application of the Pathways segmentation tools were the major focus areas in the revision of evaluation plan.
  • IFA adherence measurement: a mix of methods including self-report questionnaire, pill count & scale measurements were proposed. The tool is still under review to further refine it and to share with other CROWN partners.
  • Social and gender norms:  Questions on both injunctive and descriptive social and gender norms were adapted in view of the Ethiopia context and included in the baseline and midline survey questionnaires.
  • Vulnerability Screening tool: The PATHWAYS team developed the Ethiopia Vulnerability Segmentation typing tool based on the EDHS data. Accordingly, the Ethiopia CROWN team identified and adapted those variables that significantly predicting woman’s risk of not using maternal and child health services (ANC Institutional delivery and IFA) in the PATHWAYS and developed a screening tool that will be utilized to screen vulnerable women to participate in the design sprint workshop and to enroll panel study participants of evaluation purpose. The vulnerability screening tool will be automated using mobile app supported with a query that aggregate the scores and enable the team to identify pregnant women based on their vulnerability driving factors.
  • HCD Plan: The Ethiopia CROWN team made significant changes on their HCD plan. The original plan was only two rounds of workshops, and that would include diverse stakeholders in the workshop including community and services providers together. However, the revised plan has six workshops with homogeneous design team members in each workshop.

Current Status:

  • Completed 3-days HCD facilitators and notetakers training from May 1-3. The training covered basics on HCD and how to facilitate effective HCD design workshops. Sixteen facilitators and notetakers who have at least bachelor’s degree participated in the training that included hands on practical exercise on the basic HCD steps.
  • Completed two rounds of HCD design workshops that engaged eight different design teams from the community and service providers in each; and an internal workshop that engaged CROWN staff, facilitators and notetakers only, which was done  between the first and third workshops. Four teams were working on the one design challenge focusing on how to support pregnant women to improve ANC attendance, and the other four teams were focusing on how to support pregnant women to deliver at health facility.

What’s next:

HCD prototype solutions: The Ethiopia CROWN team will continue conducting the remaining HCD workshops before the end of June 2023.

Evaluation: The Ethiopia CROWN team will secure IRB clearance from JHSPH and local IRBs and prepare for baseline data collection before end of 2023. Furthermore, the team will finalize adherence measurements and will share them with other CROWN implementing partners.

Facilitators and notes from the HCD workshops in Ethiopia.  Way to go, CCP team – we are excited to learn more about these next week at the quarterly retreat!

Team Spotlight: Yihunie Tarekegn

Yihunie Tarekegn is an M&E professional with more than 18 years of experience in public health research, surveillance, project evaluation and coordinating programs. He completed his MSC degree in Population Studies  from Addis Ababa University in 2006. He also holds an MSC degree in Applied Human Nutrition from Bahir Dar University in 2018.

Yihunie has led more than 25 large and small-scale studies as principal and co-investigator role and published more than 30 manuscripts in reputable peer reviewed journals. He is a scientific reviewer for different international journals like for the EJHD, BMC, PLOS ONE, BMJ Open and more.

Role on CROWN:  Yihunie is a Senior Research and Evaluation Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs based in Ethiopia.

Contributions/Achievements so far: Conducted literature reviews on IFA, ANC and institutional delivery, compiled evidence from 136 stakeholders through crowdsourcing approach, reviewed 10 abstracts and presented abstract during the 2023 SBC submit, supported in the development of vulnerability project investment proposal, developed two manuscripts, developed HCD application protocol for IFA adherence project and conducted qualitative empathy research, supported in the development of prototype solutions to optimize adherence to ANC, ID and IFA among vulnerability pregnant women through sprint design workshops, developed baseline and evaluation protocols for the two projects (IFA adherence and vulnerability) implemented in Ethiopia.

What the CROWN project means to me:  The CROWN project to me is designed to achieve a set of objectives to be accomplished by the end of 2024 and intended to deliver the expected business value and return on investment funded by BMGF to JHU/CCP. It is a great pleasure to work with JHU/CCP and CROWN team.

Hobbies and Fun Fact: I love learning new things and particularly application of statistical software! I strive every day to live in the developing world to improve my technical capabilities. I enjoy being with my family and children most of my spare time.

Upcoming Events

May 23, 2023
This meeting will kick off the first quarterly CROWN virtual “mini-convening” for all projects (Ethiopia, Nigeria, and India). We will also include updates on HCD processes, as well as discuss two important facts of the CROWN collaborative: mentorship and implementation research.