Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Data collection woes

Man Prefecture
I wanted to know if there was a comprehensive list of organizations that had been registered in Man. Organizations must first register their existence with the Prefecture, and when I went to ask about said list, the administrator said oh yes, thousands of organizations are registered here. Great, any way I can see a list? Oh no, there's no list, we just have all of the files (shows me to the above cabinet).

Prefecture de Bouaké: Known locally as the "White House" this was the seat of the rebellion during the civil war. The post-2011 government did not want to set-up shop here, so established the Prefecture in a different location. In 2016, this new building was ransacked and destroyed by "young protesters". The prefecture re-established itself in the White House at the end of last year. 

In Bouaké, we visited the Prefecture: "We used to have a full list. But when the Prefecture was ransacked last year, we lost everything. Hard copies of registration forms, our computers…everything."
Compiling the data I need for my dissertation, thus, will require a little creativity since these two anecdotes are more or less representative of other situations I found throughout the country: a lack of data in electronic format, destroyed documents during the crises, staff turnover resulting in lost or unfinished lists of organizations.

For Ivorian organizations, the loss of the lists is not the end of the world as they receive a receipt when they turn-in their paperwork at the Prefecture, and it is with this receipt that they are able to legally function - a lost file at the Prefecture does not mean they lose their right to work, thankfully. Nevertheless, a lack of a database with NGO registration information makes it difficult for a) the authorities to know who is working in the NGO sector in their department; b) the central state to know how many organizations work in a given sector; c) civil society organizations to know who else works in their domains; d) international donors and partners to know with whom to work; e) PhD researchers to collect comprehensive lists of organizations across the country 😕

Alas, this is fieldwork!

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