fieldwork in são tomé and príncipe (west africa)
I have designed, organized (including the recruitment and training of a local team of 8 collaborators), and conducted a Household Survey on Quality of Public Services (Corruption), including 841 interviews in 30 of the 149 census areas of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP).
This survey was aimed at measuring changes in perceived corruption (mainly focused on influence) in the public services of the country (in health care, schooling, scholarships, justice, police, customs, licenses; and in the allocation of state jobs, subsidies, supplier positions).
Two experiments were the focus of my analysis (to know more about the country, click here):
the democratization of STP (1989-1990);
the announcement of existence of oil offshore in STP (1997-1999).
This lead me to aim at interviewing 30+ year old people (one representative per household) and to consider three periods of interest in the questions of the questionnaire: before 1989 (dictatorship), after 1990 and before 1997 (initial democracy - before oil announcement - Trovoada presidency), after 2000 (present - after oil announcement - Fradique de Menezes presidency).
The main technique used was to begin by eliciting memories from respondents, i.e. by asking questions on demographics, and marking personal happenings in the respondent's period of life (of interest) - e.g. year children born, illnesses in the household. Then, in the questions relative to corruption, the interviewer, when referring to the three periods of interest, used the information collected earlier in the interview.
This page is intended to provide an introduction to my work in STP and to the country itself.
Fieldwork (March-May, 2004):
Stage 1: Arrival and Getting to Work
Market Square in São Tomé.
When I arrived in São Tomé, I had three basic worries:
getting a formal authorization from the Minister of Education, Álvaro Santiago (with whom I had an interview scheduled);
recruiting my co-interviewers for the survey;
and taking care of the sampling base (no data on the distribution of the population of STP over its territory is available outside the country).
(as much as I had prepared my trip in the earlier months, several sources of uncertainty had proven to be very difficult to be dealt with outside the country)
I got the authorization from the minister and met one of my contacts in the country, the director of Instituto Superior Politécnico of São Tomé and Príncipe (ISPSTP), Lúcio Pinto (who had kindly offered institutional support, and who introduced me to some of the people that became my collaborators in the survey, mainly former students of his);
I was given access to the census area maps and population data from the National Institute of Statistics of STP, which enabled accurate sampling of the target population in the survey:
The sample of census areas (from the total 150) was chosen randomly weighting by the number of households in each area.
Stage 2: Training of the Interviewers and Trialing of the Questionnaire
This took about two weeks; each interviewer had a total (on average) of 8 hours of training in groups of 2-3 people; training included lectures on the content and objectives of the questionnaire, answering the questionnaire alone, and trialing (at least once by interviewer) with a random person. These sessions took place in Residencial Avenida (my base), in Instituto Superior Politécnico, and in Trindade (a town near the capital city).
Going from one place to the other (when training).
From an initial group of 12 people, I had the honor to work with the following ladies and gentlemen:
While the training was underway one of my main worries was to improve the questionnaire. The several months preparing this project before arriving in São Tomé had seen many versions and many opinions/suggestions (I am grateful to the members of my committee, Marianne Bertrand, Casey Mulligan, Roger Myerson, to Diana Jergovic, Kenneth Rasinski, and Allen Sanderson at NORC, and to Susan Stokes and Gerhard Seibert for their very valuable contributions for the questionnaire). However, I had been warned that the decisive time for the questionnaire format would come with trialing in the field. The final version of the questionnaire can be seen here:
Stage 3: Survey in the São Tomé island
Map with the Sampled Areas (places visited in the survey) in São Tomé - click for details. Note that the sample was drawn as a function of the population (which is mainly located in the northeastern part of the island)
This is the schedule we followed (including all towns/neighborhoods/roças visited):
April, 13: Riboque (district of Água Grande)
April, 14: a scare - people were not understanding some questions very well, which obliged to stop, re-train the interviewers, and repeat some interviews the day after.
April, 15: Riboque / Boa Morte (district of Água Grande)
April, 16: Budo Budo, Potó Potó / Oquê del Rei (district of Água Grande)
April, 17: Kilombo / Água Arroz, Água Bôbô (district of Água Grande)
April, 18: São Marçal / Pantufo (disrict of Água Grande)
April, 19: Água Porca / Chácara (district of Água Grande)
April, 20: Neves / Diogo Vaz, Sta. Clotilde, Sta. Jeny, S. José (district of Lembá)
The first rural area visited: these are photos from Roça S. José and Roça Sta. Clotilde
(Angelson, Carlos, Adilson, and Diosdado were with me that day, a specially intense one with several hours walking in the muddy mountain from Roça to Roça
- a task made possible by the skills of Sisser, our guide, standing in the upper-right photo)
April, 21: Rest, Rest, Rest!!!!
April, 22: Trindade Cruzeiro / Piedade (district of Mé-Zóxi) - this was not the most cheerful day...
April, 23: Almas / Bombom (Bugué, Cachoeira, Caminho Novo, Riba Doquê) (district of Mé-Zóxi)
April, 24: Praia Almocharife, Ubabudo (Praia, Velho), Cova D’Água / Zandrigo (district of Cantagalo)
April, 25: Milagrosa, Java, Plateau, Sta. Adelaide, Sta. Clara, Sta. Luzia / Amparo II, Lemos, Pau Sabão (district of Mé-Zóxi)
April, 26: Bela Vista, Izaquente Grande, Maianço (district of Lobata) / Madalena, Benfica, Pedra Maria (district of Mé-Zóxi)
April, 27: Conde / Praia das Conchas, Plancas (I, II) (district of Lobata)
April, 28: S. João dos Angolares / Ribeira Peixe, Praia Pesqueira (district of Caué)
Ribeira Peixe: Carlos with an interviewed person (left), Edson (middle), myself (right)
April, 29: Praia Messias Alves, Baixo de Ocá (district of Cantagalo) / Praia Lochinga (district of Água Grande)
Stage 3: Survey in the Príncipe island
Map with the Sampled Areas (places visited in the survey) in Príncipe - click for details.
After several days typing data to the computer, the survey continued in the Príncipe island. I was hoping that Príncipe would work as a control group (something that did not happen in the end), which was the reason for an oversample there. For that, I chose the best 3 interviewers to join me (Adilson, Carlos, and Edson) - which worked as a kind of bonus for their great work. We went by plane - something Adilson or Carlos had never experienced (they had never gone to the Príncipe island before): quite a moment!
The shedule was:
May 4: Sto. António (district of Príncipe)
May 5: Porto Real (Recta, Town), Bela Vista, S. Joaquim, Sto. António II (district of Príncipe)
I was present physically (supervising the distribution of interviewers) at all 30 areas of sampling in the survey (usually one in the morning, one in the afternoon), I conducted interviews or observed its conduction (for the improvement of the performance of the interviewers, during the first full three days and at São Tomé halfway, Trindade-Cruzeiro, Piedade) at all areas except in 6: Neves, Amparo II-Lemos-Pau Sabão, Conde, Praias Messias Alves-Baixo de Ocá, Praia Lochinga, and Porto Real.
At all areas, approximately the same number of interviews was attempted (with the exception of the areas in Príncipe, where the number was doubled); the nth houses (as a function of the number of households in the area) were approximately sought; second visits were tried/scheduled when possible; non-respondents' basic characteristics were registed by interviewers.
The transportation of the team (including myself) was made by collective taxis on all days except (a lesson was learnt on April 20) in the period of five days, April 24-28 (where more distant and of-very-difficult-access areas were visited by a 4*4); in this context I acknowledge the support of Manuel Cardiga da Costa.
Before leaving a sampling area, all filled questionnaires were reviewed by me to check for gaps or other mistakes (whenever present these defects were fixed by returning to the respective households).
Preliminary analysis of data (mainly paper based) was performed every day from 6pm (mosquito time in STP).
Stage 4: The Big Burning
After some more typing, it (the huge quantity of filled questionnaires) all ended two hundred meters from the presidential palace, in a very appreciated (by the team) fire (following the instructions of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board of the University of Chicago, who had previously reviewed and approved this project - their protocol H04041).
This research was funded in part by the Department of Economics, University of Chicago.
All this work has no meaning if it does not come in favor of all the incredibly and truly generous São Tomeans I met. Oil revenues in São Tomé e Príncipe can become an exception to the resource curse in Africa!
Some basic facts on the country:
São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is a tiny island country in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Gabon.
It has around 148 thousand inhabitants (2000, WDI2002).
STP, a portuguese speaking country, turned independent from Portugal, its 500-year colonizer) in 1975;
Its first political regime was soviet-like (as part of a common trend in Lusophone Africa).
Democratization was initiated in 1989, first free elections happened in 1991.
Aid per capita: USD 125 in 1985, USD 638 in 1995 (accompanying IMF and World Bank -sponsored economic reforms).
Poverty and stagnation of the economy from 1987:
GDPpc USD 833 in 2000, current prices, PWT2002;
Ranked 115 in 134 countries in terms of GDPpcPPP in 2000, 1996 prices, PWT2002.
-0.77% average growth GDPpc in 1987-2000, WDI2002.
1997: existence of off-shore oil announced in STP (in the context of a contract for soundings/exploration signed with small US-based company);
1998-1999: agreement signed in the end of 1998 between ExxonMobil and the STP government (which led to added credibility brought throughout 1999 - first 1997 contract cancelled);
2000-2002: maritime demarcation agreement with Nigeria signed in 2000, leading in 2002 to an agreement on the joint exploration of several off-shore oil blocks;
2003: auctions opened regarding the allocation of these blocks;
2004: ExxonMobil / ChevronTexaco win one of the auctions;
Present situation: production expected to start in the next years though several blocks/auctions are still to be allocated; some contract-signing revenues expected in the current year.
Some links to information on São Tomé and Príncipe:
São Tomé and Príncipe at the World Factbook (CIA).
http://www.stome.net/ : (in Portuguese) a very comprehensive and useful webpage on São Tomé and Príncipe, presented by «Centro de Competência em Tecnologias de Informação e Comunicação», located at ISPSTP.
Discussion Group on São Tomé and Príncipe at yahoo.uk (mainly in Portuguese).
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