A Joyful Adventurous Life Together

My photo
Antananarivo, Madagascar
VAZAHA = foreigner VAO VAO = news

Friday, August 27, 2010

Updates from Andavadoaka

Hello dear readers. Greetings from Andavadoaka! For those of you who don't remember my stint here last year, we are at Blue Ventures' research site on the SW coast of Madagascar. (Blue Ventures or BV is a small NGO.) The marine protected area (MPA) we are studying surrounds 40 km of very remote coast; Andavadoaka is the central village. Despite the temptation of diving, azure waters, white sand beaches, warm sunshine, sailing on lakanas, ... we've been keeping ourselves busy. Tom is working on analyzing the octopus landings dataset that BV has collected over the past 6 years. Octopus is the major income source for these very poor fishers, so getting an idea whether the management techniques being implemented are working is very important. I am tangentially involved in that analysis as well -- but really I will be asking different questions of the data than the biologists. While they want to show that the
reserves "have an effect" (on size of octopus, catch per day, etc.), I
want to know if the sacrifice made in closing the fishery is made up for
with the gains. My questions come next...

While Tom works on the biological analysis, most of my time is spent setting up an economic valuation exercise. This involves asking a lot of questions to a lot of people. I'm learning a tremendous amount designing this. I'm taking my time -- trying to do the best I can with foresight. Still, I know some things will go terribly wrong. I just hope that it won't be because I made a stupid mistake in the sampling or something equally preventable. If the survey team gets stranded because of weather...fine...but if I can't draw conclusions because my sample isn't representative or there is some bias, I will cry and/or beat my head against a wall. I'm in the process of testing the survey method now -- it is a complicated game where we ask people to make a series of choices across some future scenarios. Not an easy task with folks who have different values and very different time horizons that I do. For example, a Vezo saying says something like: today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow. Basically: "why save a fish from today's catch for tomorrow? Tomorrow I can go out to fish again. If the weather is bad, then the ancestors don't want me to fish...but they will provide." Designing questions that get at the essence of what I need to know without obscuring what their values really are is incredibly hard. The next month is going to be very, very busy!

So that's an update from project octopus and project valuation #1. Our other project continue to keep us up late into the night (until our computer batteries die -- the generator cuts off at 9 pm). Tom is currently cussing at his machine as he runs code to analyze data from the Rapid Assessment Program he worked on in March. He has to compile all the other scientists' data into one comprehensive report. I keep hearing the Mac ribbit-ing or whatever sound that is when something is bad. He is also, of course, immersed in about 100 projects of other folks here on site. All BV staff come to him for advice, ideas, help...of course, his teaching is a hot commodity and while it keeps him from working on his own stuff, he loves it! I have my other NSF projects -- hopefully I'll have a couple of weeks to finish one of them when my survey team here rolls out before our data comes in.

All in all, life in our decrepit hut is lovely. The weather is turning a bit warmer. We are going to dive this weekend for my birthday (I hope -- weather permitting).

lots of love, Kirsten

No comments:

Post a Comment