Discover 1: The first ‘design research’ phase lays the foundation for Core

Sep 10th 2018

Discover is the first ‘design research’ stage of Core’s human-centered design process. The first of the two Discover phases took place from late 2017 to September 2018. Discover 1 lays the foundation for future work and will inform the design of solutions.


Team brainstorms for Discover 1 in Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland: 

Discover 1 was kicked off during the winter 2017 by developing country-wise landscape analyses. The aim was to understand the sexual and reproductive health scenarios in India, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. We brought in experts and partners to ensure that our secondary research was thorough and relevant. 

Informed by the expert perspectives and desk research, we chose to adopt a multi-generational, life course approach for the project. It was the ideal instrument to help us understand the fundamental constructs that influence women’s notions of health and wellbeing during their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) journeys. 

When preparing for fieldwork, we applied principles of design research to craft custom strategies for interviews and group discussions and design tools for interactions with women and engagement with in-country partners. 


Group discussion with young Bihari women in India

Bihar, India:

In March 2018, Core’s research team spent several days in Dalsinghsarai and Bithan villages in Samastipur district in India’s Bihar state. The team conducted eight immersive intergenerational interviews with women, three key informant interviews and four group discussions with the women in the community.  

The team explored women’s lives through the lens of key life course moments, which were either brought up spontaneously by the participants or cued by the team through the journey mapping tool.  

Our approach helped us gain nuanced insights into women’s levels and their autonomy, mobility, decision-making abilities, roles and responsibilities, care-seeking, and their experiences with key life course ‘moments’, such as menstruation, adolescence, marriage, pregnancy, motherhood and becoming a grandmother.

A Hausa woman maps her life course health journey 

Lagos, Nigeria: 

In March, the team also visited a Hausa community in Agege, Lagos, in southern Nigeria. They conducted eight in-depth interviews, four focus group discussions, and five interviews with experts.

The team investigated key moments that dot the life course of Hausa women: static, dynamic, long, and momentary. They learned of the control exerted by Hausa men on the women in the community, and its bearing on women throughout their lives, from childhood to motherhood.

Women are restricted to their homes and their access to healthcare is often little to none. Moreover, Islamic beliefs of the community restricted access to sex education, which strongly affected sexual and reproductive health outcomes of the Hausa people, especially the women.


Kenyan men participate in a group discussion

Nairobi, Kenya:

In April 2018, the team spent ten days in Isinya, Kiserian and Kitengela villages in Kajiado County, and in Ruiru village in Kiambu county.

They conducted eight immersive interviews and two key informant interviews, four group discussions with women of various ages and one group discussion with men, meeting a total of 28 women and eight men. They ensured meeting a minimum of two generations in every home we visited.

The conversations were centered around the life course and journey mapping tool, managing to glean insights into key transitions around menstruation, single motherhood, and abortion, and understand the dynamics between men and women with regards to roles and responsibilities, fluid partnerships and family planning.

Helsinki, Finland:

Back in Helsinki, Core’s multidisciplinary team got to work. They visualised everything that had been learnt, from direct quotes to ethnographic observations and photographs. They also reviewed all the information at hand, looked for common themes, built patterns from the collected data and collated it with desk research through meticulous discussions with team members, partners and experts. 

This concluded the first research phase, setting the course for the more focused Discover 2 phase.

Lessons from Core countries