Sunday, November 28, 2010
For two weeks Raul and me trained 30 people of which in the end 24 were selected. How to conduct focus groups and general assemblies. How to audit a development project. How to conduct a myriad of different surveys. How to take GPS locations and use a PDA. Etc. It was much fun. The students are intelligent and very participatory; by default 1/3rd of the room had their hands raised.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I flew with a MONUSCO plane from Bukavu to Kindu: only about a two
hour flight. After about an hour the rainforest started. I thought I knew what
to expect. When I finally saw a big river running like a snake through
the forest, I felt... nothing. Dissappointing! Was this what I read about.
Was this the magical Congo River?! But we kept on flying. After thirty more
minutes a new river could be seen snaking through the rainforest far
away. As we neared the River I got a chill on my back: This was the Congo River!
So beautiful and so big. On the picture: A first glimpse of "La Fleuve".
There is a reason why the people call the River "La Fleuve". First, Kindu
is completely isolated; a city hidden in the rainforest. Everything is either
flown in from Bukavu, or (mainly) brought from Kinsangani via the River: a
5-day trip in a piroque to get from Kindu to Kisangani (back to Kindu
takes longer as it is against the River's current). Second, people wash their
food, themselves, their clothes, etc. in the River. People use it as a big toilet
and use it as drinking water. On the picture: Close to Kindu there are not
too many crocodilles and hippos so children play in the River.
On the picture: As soon as the River stops. The rainforest starts.
piroque. These are boats cut out from a tree (yes in
one piece) and can be as long as fifteen meter. They are
really impressive. On this picture: We often had to cross the
River with our motorbikes to reach a new village. Thus:
motorbikes in the piroque.
The Congo River is the deepest river in the world with depths in
excess of 230 meter and the second largest river in the world by
volume of water discharged (yes, Wikipedia). It is a river you do
For one hour: strong winds, heavy rain and waves that made me think
I was in the Netherlands looking at the North Sea. One hour later
the sun was shining again as if nothing happened. So impressive!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Most of the times villages are not reachable by road.
On the picture: walking for two hours to reach the
village. The views are gorgeous though.
One of the things the evaluation teams do in a village is to conduct a
large meeting with the villagers to inform them about Project RAPID. We
require that at least 25% of the villagers are present. On the picture:
One of the team members conducting a general assembly.
On the picture: And the views! Amazing!
at arrival we ask whether there is a place where we
could sleep in the village. This is never a problem. On
this picture: In this village in Sud Kivu's territoire
Kalehe we were especially lucky. Not only was there
a hospital with beds (and no patients) where we could
sleep. In the evening the village offered us rice and a
living chicken. The chicken tasted great.
provincial supervisor for Sud Kivu on the motorbike.
The road you see is a really really good road. Most
roads - if existant at all - are not doable by 4x4s and
often also not by motorbikes. The teams often walk
hours to reach a village.
Several of the villages that have to be visisted are on
islands. On the picture: our transport to the village.
These boats are piroques: boats often cut out of a tree.
On the picture: heading to the next village. The team together in a
- even after a long day of work in the field - more work. On the
picture: debriefing of a trip to a village in Sud Kivu's terroire Kalehe.
On the picture: the tough life!
in a paroish with nuns (who make amazing liquor from fruit). Important
when using motorbikes is maintenance. On the picture: At 6am in the
morning, before leaving to the next village, the team cleaning and
verifying the motorbikes.
the picture: interview with randomly selected villager.
The teams, including me, sleep most of the time in the villages where we
work: most of the time in the house of the chief or in another house or
building in the village. On the picture: Beds are a rarity and most of the
times we sleep on the ground.
evaluation there. In Sud Kivu, Haut Katanga and Tanganyika we work with
the IRC. In Maniema we work with CARE International. On the picture:
briefing the CARE staff about the evaluation and introducing the
evaluation team (not on the picture).
RAPID: conduct interviews, do general assemblies, focus groups, etc.
In the evening they verify the collected data and enter it into PDAs.
On the picture: In one of the village chef's house (where we all slept in
the evening on the ground) the team is filling out the PDAs.
strict. It is, for example, allowed for me to drive a
motorbike and thus I made many many kilometers. Such
a sense of freedom. On the picture: My Yamaha bike,
sun going down and the Congo river. Truly amazing!
All decent buildings in Kindu (the capital of Maniema) are still from the
Belgian period. The building ares thus decades old but have not been
maintained. People do live there. On the picture: "La Roche" a former
Belgian dancing club.
boat to Bukavu the next day) I also landed in Punia and Kasongo. On
the picture: the awesome aiport of Punia. In the middle of the rainforest.