Into the field

My first field survey trip to the nearby village Bukasa ended with my sore legs from sitting too long on a stool. The purpose of today’s survey is mainly to test the appropriateness of our questions and get to know our potential customers. We left the bank at 2PM and surveyed 5 households by 5:30PM. We did our survey in the afternoon because most villagers are farmers and are usually working in the field until noon.
The first one took us nearly 1 hour because there was some confusion about the wording. My survey defines a family to be a group of people who have meals together for at least 6 out of the past 12 months. Because I did not make this clear, the respondent often answered about things happening to their extended family members who are not living in the house. Another reason was my translator, the bank officer, was not familiar with the questions.
Several problems emerge while we were surveying the households.
First, people often hide information, yielding inconsistent answers. A woman we interviewed said she did not have any savings plan. But when asked about medical expenses, she admitted she used her savings to pay for a 100,000 UGX hospital bill. Clearly she was hiding her saving information from us. A reason for doing this is the entrenched distrust of banks and among villagers, as suggested by the bank officer.
Second, income information is much harder to elicit than expenditure. Parents usually have a good idea about how much school fees they paid in the last year and about lump sum medical bills.
Third, household roster can get really messy if you do not follow the order. Start from the household head, then spouse, then children and grandchildren. When asking about children, go from the eldest to the youngest. Avoid asking all the children at the same time.

Taking a walk around the countryside is great fun. I was worried that our respondents might grow impatient as we ask more questions, but we are welcomed by all five households and the friendly atmosphere was maintained throughout our survey. Now I feel the urgency of mastering some basic Luganda so that I won’t be awkwardly sitting there smiling at the kids as my translator asks the questions.

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