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Using Technology to Strengthen and Expand Training for Drug Shops in Madagascar

Since the beginning of the project in 2019, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Improving Market Partnerships and Access to Commodities Together (IMPACT) program has trained drug shop owners in operational and financial management throughout nine regions of Madagascar: Analanjirofo, Atsinanana, Boeny, SAVA, DIANA, Atsimo Andrefana, Menabe, Vatovavy Fitovinany, and Sofia. A total of 195 drug shop owners have been trained, either through in-person sessions or remotely, using video training kits.

During the second year of the project (2000), the IMPACT team began to identify the training participants who were applying what they had learned in their drug shops and who demonstrated interest in sharing and transmitting their knowledge to their peers. The concept was to try to establish a group of peer trainers who would be able to offer basic business training to fellow drug shop owners at a lower cost, helping to sustain the benefits of IMPACT’s training program. In October 2021, 17 peer trainers from five regions (DIANA, SAVA, Analanjirofo, Boeny, Atsinanana) completed a week-long classroom peer training of trainers (ToT) on operational and financial management for drug shops.

The group page created on Facebook for drug shop peer trainers
The group page created on Facebook for drug shop peer trainers

At the end of the peer ToT, a Facebook group was created to exchange news and share documents, in addition to maintaining the group cohesion and team spirit that was developed during the training.

Two peer trainers conducting their first training for colleagues in Atsinanana
Two peer trainers conducting their first training for colleagues in Atsinanana

After the classroom training in October 2021, the peer trainers moved on to the first real-life training sessions with other drug shop owners in their home regions, under the supervision of IMPACT trainers. The first peer training session required intensive preparation in two phases: the first phase done remotely, and the second one done on site shortly before the date of the training session. To date, peer trainers have conducted an initial supervised training session in three regions: Atsinanana, Analanjirofo, and DIANA. A total of 67 drug shop owners (45 men, 22 women) in the three regions have benefitted from the training by their peers.

While the preparatory coaching sessions which IMPACT provided to the peer trainers in the Atsinanana and Analanjirofo regions were done by phone on an individual basis, the IMPACT team adopted an innovative group approach to help prepare the peer trainers in DIANA. They created a chat room within the peer trainers’ Facebook group, where peer trainers can simultaneously interact with the IMPACT team and with each other. This solution saves communication costs, brings together several people at once, and encourages exchanges that are not possible through phone calls.

The following table summarizes the results obtained following the supervision of the three regions concerned:

The table summarizes the results of the three regions concerned.

Over the course of the supervision sessions and the initial peer trainings conducted in the three regions, a continuous improvement in the performance of peer trainers was observed. The importance of preparation before the initial peer training was crucial, and based on the experience in DIANA, the chat room function to conduct group preparation sessions was deemed helpful. For future peer trainings, the IMPACT team will try to determine if the more intensive preparation is sufficient, even with peer trainers who do not have previous experience in accounting, as was the case for the most recent peer training in DIANA.

IMPACT is continuing to test training methods and results to create sustainable support for drug shops, helping them to grow and serve the health needs of the people of Madagascar in the future.