The tide of the chapter may be a contradiction in terms. However, the project was initially planned to last one or two years. Interaction with the first observations forced us to go on collecting more data, which again produced observations which needed to be explained, etc. This process is essential in research. However, funding of the process may be difficult to obtain these days, with research tending to become routinized as rigorous testing of specific hypotheses. The range of possible answers to the research question needs to be predefined to be funded. This makes much research trivial, at least to an anthropologist whose concept of research is exploring and making sense of the unknown ( Aaby 1988).
The present chapter is the history of why and how the project in Bissau became an ongoing inquiry. The emphasis is on the relation between interventions, research, and how observations were made. More detailed information on routine data collected, census, personnel, affiliated researcher, and institutional arrangements are provided in Table 12.1.
Guinea-Bissau became independent in 1974 after a long and violent war of liberation. Survey data on age distribution of children conducted in the first two years after independence indicated that under-5 mortality in Bissau was likely to be in the order of 50011,000. The Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) therefore asked SAREC--Swedish Agency for Research Co-operation with Developing Countries--to organize a study to help MINSAP define the nutritional priorities in preventive health care. The project was to determine the problems in order for the population to be mobilized to change their own nutritional and health-related practices, thus reducing mortality.
The project was explicitly interdisciplinary with an emphasis on social science. The team funded by SAREC consisted of three full-time members, an
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Publication information: Book title: Prospective Community Studies in Developing Countries. Contributors: Monica Das Gupta - Editor, Peter Aaby - Editor, Michel Garenne - Editor, Gilles Pison - Editor. Publisher: University of Oxford. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 276.