Spread over four trips I have lived in East Congo for over a year now. However, my role has always been that of a designer of the evaluation and trainer of the enumerator teams or, once in the field, as team leader to either implement the evaluation or check on its quality. I thus have had only very limited time in the field to actually work on my own disseration. Therefore, at the end of this month, I'll head to the Congo again, until March, and work solely on my disseration. Over the last months I have done a lot of preparation and everything seems to be set up for village mapping, field experiments and indepth interviews. On purpose I will thus not be connected with the IRC - our implementing partner there. Another reason is that now it is possible to stay overnight in the villages - something that is important for a researcher (I have done it before in Congo) but also something that the security rules of the IRC explicitely forbid.
One big drawback of all this is that I have to pay for everything myself: flights to the DRC and back, the enumerators, accomodation, in-country transport, etc. And Congo is everything but a cheap country for fieldwork. While the Center for the Study of Development Strategies provided funding to conduct fieldwork, I've saved money over the months to be able to add several thousand dollar out of my own pocket. However, last Tuesday I heard that I will be a 2011-2012 Graduate Fellow at the Earth Institute's Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity, which comes with $3,000 for this fieldwork. Woah! Thank you Earth Institute!