Operating in four regions, the logistics of this project have been challenging. The timing of our survey made it worse, as the wet season is a bad time for roads. It has been difficult for our management team to get to our field offices, and it has been difficult for our surveyors to get to some respondents.
Bole was the most difficult location to get to. Normally it’s a 5 hour ride on Metro Bus. Shortly after our survey began, they closed the road between Tamale and Bole, and routed transportation through Kantampo. This meant that to get to Bole, instead of a 5 hour ride, it was now an 8 hour ride, with two bus transfers. And the bus ALWAYS left late.
Salaga had the most problems with inaccessible respondents. At one point, the survey team left to travel to a community, got nearly there before the road became impassable, and had to turn back. A wasted day. Salaga also had some respondents accessible only by boat, but high waters made the journey too dangerous. Since these respondents would likely be unable to get the treatment we are testing anyway, we replaced them in the sample.
Salaga wasn’t always a breeze to get to, either. The road seemed to disintegrate a little more every trip I made there. The last trip there, Metro Bus wasn’t running because of road conditions, so I took a tro-tro. I estimate about 10% of the road was water on that trip. We were traveling at night, and there was a rain storm. Since the tro-tro had no glass in the windows, I spent the duration of the storm holding a plastic sheet up to shield myself and fellow passengers from the rain. After the rain stopped, the challenges continued, as all that rain flooded the road. At times it seemed like we were driving in a river. At one point, we had to get out of the tro-tro and trek through 100 meters of knee-deep water, so that the tro-tro could go through empty to avoid getting stuck in the mud. A few of the Ghanaians took great fun from telling me “Welcome to Africa!” Ironically, because I had traveled that road eight times in the past month, I was probably less surprised by the road conditions than they were.
I have worked in economic policy and research in Washington, D.C. and Ghana. My husband and I recently moved to Guyana, where I am working for the Ministry of Finance. I like riding motorcycle, outdoor sports, foreign currencies, capybaras, and having opinions.