This chapter deals with research methods and processes that were undertaken whilst giving their importance to the study. This chapter will describe in detail the research design, study population, sampling techniques, pretesting, data collecting tools, data analysis and validity of the study. Ethical considerations when doing a study will also be dealt with in this chapter.
3.2 STUDY DESIGN
According to Saunders (2001), a research design is a program that guides the investigation in the process of collecting, analysing and interpreting observations. A descriptive study was used in this study to obtain data and Ntozini (2011) stated that the purpose of a descriptive study is to provide a picture of a phenomenon in its natural state. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative research techniques as they helped the researcher to describe facts on the impact of the waste stabilization ponds. Qualitative approach in descriptive study investigates feeling, perceptions, attitudes and behaviour. A quantitative approach was considered because it entails the systematic collection of measurable data using structured data collection tools and analysis using statistical methods. The quantitative approach through size and distribution of the impacts of wastewater towards the study population. Environmental monitoring approach encompasses the continuous automated observation of changes in the environment through the use of powerful systems and methods (Gunther: 1995).
3.3 STUDY POPULATION
This is a group of individuals taken from the general population who share common characteristics such as age, gender and religion or health condition as stated in the field of health.
The population under study were all the households of Miti village which is the peri urban that surrounds the waste stabilisation ponds used by Gokwe town. The village had a population of 256 households from the data obtained from the Ministry of Health’s rural water and sanitation database for the area.
3.32 Water sources
According to the water sources inventory of Miti village at the Ministry of Health district offices, Miti had 3 functional protected water sources which were being used by the populace. Therefore, the study population for water sources was all water sources in the Miti village.
Sampling is the process of selecting a group of elements with which to conduct a study (Burns: 2003).In this study two sampling methods were used namely probability sampling for selecting households and non-probability sampling for selecting water points. Probability sampling was used for households because the total number of households in the area was large whilst non-probability sampling was used for water points because the total number of water points was small.
3.41 Sample population
The study area was divided into 2 groups due to the distance from the waste stabilisation ponds. The first group encompassed those who lived within 1km radius from the wastewater ponds whilst the second group involved those who lived 1.6km or more away from the ponds. This enabled the researcher to ensure that the sample chosen was the best in serving the intended goals. The researcher used stratified random sampling for selecting 30 households for the study which made up more than 10% of the total population under study (Stephanie: 2013). One of the advantages of using stratified sampling as a probability sampling design is that the cost of data collection is very low and it offers a generalisation of the population (Sekeran: 2004).
3.42 Water points
Purposive sampling method was used whereby the total population of protected ground water sources was selected for water quality tests because the number of water points was small. The advantage of total population sampling is that it enables all the members of the population that meet the required criteria to be included in the research study (Etikan: 2016). Thus actual results are obtained and there are no generalisations of the results.
3.5 SAMPLING FRAME
The sampling frame consisted of the people of Miti village which is a peri urban of Gokwe town, boreholes and wells found in Miti village.
3.6 PILOT STUDY
This is a pre-exercise which is done prior to the actual study so as to improve the precision and efficiency of the data collecting tools used whilst also identifying and correcting errors. The pilot study was carried in Gokwe town peri urban where 3 random households that made 10% of the sample population (Connelly: 2008). The water testing kit was used to pre-test wastewater from the aerobic pond which is known to contain various microorganisms Rajbhandari (2007) so that its efficiency in identifying various microorganisms would be determined.
3.7 DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENTS
These are instruments which are used for the collection of data from the study population. Questionnaires, sterile bottles and a Wagtech water testing kit was used in data capturing from sampled population.
The researcher used questionnaires as data gathering instruments so as to solicit data from respondents. Closed and open questions were used. Closed ended questions ensured that the respondents made their choices from the answers provided and open questions were used so as to solicit respondents on how they viewed the questions. The questionnaires were self-administered so that honesty would be high since self-administering provides anonymity which is a recipe that promotes truthfulness and honesty (Mackenzie: 2017).
3.72 Wagtech test kit
Water quality tests on selected water sources which are used for consumption by the surrounding communities was done in order to determine the quality status of the water using a Wagtech portable kit for bacteriological analysis. Water samples for bacteriological analysis were first collected in sterile glass bottles and later analysed to determine its constituents. For chemical analysis, sterile polythene bottles were used to collect samples which were then sent to the laboratory for analysis.
3.8 QUALITY ASSUARANCE
These are activities that take place before data collection begins. Since quality assurance precedes data collection, its main focus is prevention that is, forestalling problems with data collection. Presentation is the most cost-effective activity to ensure the integrity of data collection (Seaman: 2003)
3.9 QUALITY CONTROL
These are activities that take place during and after data collection. The details should be carefully documented in the procedures manual. Quality control also identifies the required responses or actions necessary to correct faulty data collection practices and also minimizes future occurrence. These actions are less likely to occur if data collection procedures are vaguely written and necessary steps to minimize recurrence are not implemented through feedback and education (Knatterul et al: 1998).
On data quality control, the questionnaire was pre-tested to determine the reliability and validity of the instrument. According to Samsduk et al (2000), pretesting allows the researcher to collect information regarding survey responses and is used in evaluating whether the question is measuring the construct the researcher intends. Pretesting was done before the actual study to test for the clarity of questions, instructions and to identify any other anomalies in the questionnaire. Necessary adjustments were done after pretesting so that it became more user friendly.
3.92 Wagtech test kit
On quality control, WHO (2018) standards for water quality sampling were used. Samples for bacteriological analysis were collected in 100ml glass bottles that had been sterilised using an autoclave which was run at 134 degrees for 18 minutes (International Committee of the Red Cross: 2014). The samples were then collected, stored in a lightproof box and analysed within the first 6 hours in order to maximise efficient results( WHO: 2018). Samples for chemical analysis were collected in 2L polythene bottles that had first been washed once using methanol and were then rinsed with the sample that was to be collected three times before the actual samples were collected (Bartram: 1996). Triple packaging was done to the samples to prevent any possible leakages during transportation. Analyses were performed at Gokwe District Hospital Laboratory and Environmental Management Agency laboratories respectively.
The researcher made sure correct procedures were applied to enable him to gather appropriate answers from the asked questions. According to Word press (2011), validity refers to what the degree to which a research study measures what it intends to measure. The use of questionnaires also increased validity because they offered the participants anonymity thus leading to more honest answers. Calibration of the water testing kit after every sample analysis was done according to WHO (2018) standards so that the apparatus would give the best results.
3.11 DATA ANALYSIS
Processing and analysing data involves a number of closely related operations which are performed with the purpose of summarizing the collected data and organizing these in a manner that they answer the research questions (Kumar: 2005). Joubert (2009) echoed that graphs, tables and maps summarising the data should reflect the truth about the data. As the study was qualitative and quantitative, statistical packages in the form of Graphpad QuickCalcs and Microsoft Excel were used to analyse the data and the data was presented in the form of graphs, tables and pie charts.
3.12 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
3.12.1 Informed consent
The researcher before gathering data sought permission from the Environmental Health Officer from Gokwe Town Council and the local leaders of Miti and the surrounding areas. The participants were foremost given information about the goal of the study and their rights pertaining to participating or not.
3.12.2 Inclusion and Exclusion criteria
The recruitment of the research participants was free, fair and credible to all members of the study population. No person was excluded on the basis of gender, age, disability, literacy capacity, ethnicity or religion.
The details of respondents such as names and identification particulars were not captured in the collection of the data to ensure anonymity and freedom of expression by the respondents.
The data collected was being used for academic purposes only and this was made known to the respondents.
3.12.5 Respect for communities
It was the obligation of the researcher to respect the values and interests of the community in research and wherever possible, to protect the community from harm.
This chapter presented the materials and methods that were used to examine empirically the impacts of the waste stabilisation ponds to underground water sources and to the people that live near them. The estimation and presentation of results will appear in the next chapter.