Rain or Shine – fieldwork must go on!

June 28, 2011 – This morning, I woke up to the gentle sound of raindrops on the corrugated metal roof of my room. Rain?? But we are in the middle of the dry season in the Eastern Province! Well, rain is a boon in farming, but it is all about timing: right now the farmers are harvesting their sorghum, and with this coming of sudden, cold rain, their harvest may be hampered (due to delayed threshing and drying). I never thought the climate change could affect my research work, but YES, climate change was happening this morning and was affecting my fieldwork – majorly. In the rural villages, when it rains, most people stay inside and don’t bother going out. The road conditions are precarious with the unpaved roads becoming muddy and slippery. The problem for me is that I may not be able to meet all my survey respondents. I called the sector agronomist since 5:50 in the morning to confirm the day’s scheduled meeting. Okay, I know that I am desperately pushing to get this fieldwork done, rain or shine. The sector veterinary didn’t pick up my calls. So after much delay and thinking, I took the executive decision to head out with my team of ‘fantabulous ten’ survey enumerators regardless and venture out in the muddy, rally-like roads of Zaza sector.

Oh, it was an adventure indeed! Our trusty little bus (Stella is her name) skid like we were on ice without winter tires. But thank God…we got there safe and came back sound. Also, to my great surprise, we met all our forty beneficiaries! I am so grateful that many farmers responded to our invitation and came to meet us at the closest sector and cell offices for the interview. Gee…they came out in the rain! Also, I have to give all the credit to my survey team who never complained about the difficulty of the conditions (walking in the rain to find the houses of beneficiaries) and always trying their best regardless of my many demands. All the credit goes to them. I hope tomorrow will be drier. Dry like dry season!

Picture: Here is my team leader, Emmanuel. He’s been my best mate from the day one of my girinka research in Kibungo. We both worked together last year and ever since, we kept in touch. He is a great public speaker and an active networker – he knows everyone here! Whenever I need a contact for sector officers, he just opens his phone list, and voilà, I have the meeting set. I am very very lucky to have him on board.

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