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Qual Health Res. 2011 Jan;21(1):14-26. doi: 10.1177/1049732310367498. Epub 2010 Apr 30.

Rooting inquiry in tradition: the health baraza as a tool for social research in Kenya.

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  • 1Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya. vnaanyu@gmail.com


The baraza is a customary form of community assembly in East Africa. We examined the use of the health baraza as a process that can improve data collection and deepen community understanding of sociocultural issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. In the evaluation of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS Partnership (USAID-AMPATH) in Kenya, investigators facilitated mabaraza (the plural of baraza) to gather information of relevance to program success, improvement, and community collaboration. Seven mabaraza were held at local health facilities. Mabaraza rapidly evoked essential information for the USAID-AMPATH program and facilitated vibrant discussion of themes that were of interest to local communities. Mabaraza combined individual and community outlooks, producing emic understanding of the program's meaning to local populations. The baraza assemblage is a promising technique for applied sociology, participatory research, and program evaluation.

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