Short Interviews – Caroline Abunge on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

Caroline Abunge is a socio-economic research scientist involved in publications with the Wildlife Conservation Society Marine program and part of the FoRel Kenya’s team. She has been working with Coastal communities on various projects encouraging sustainability of coral reef fisheries through fish landings monitoring, seeking perceptions of resource users on different conservation options and active feedback of the research findings to same communities and stakeholders. She is also part of the current FoRel fieldwork in Msambweni. 

1- What impressed you most about your fieldwork?
The respondent’s excitement about the methodology. They were happy to know that the result of the surveys is to have theater play to help them understand the concept of climate change better.

2- What was a surprise factor in the field?
Despite the major changes in the fishery sector, over 80% of respondents did not want to leave fishery but supplement their marine related activity with another job. The community was very free to talk about their social changes and challenges.

2.1- What did you expect to find and did not find?
Some willingness to leave fishery for other occupations with better returns.

2.2- What did you not expect to find but found?
Despite the helping culture in the muslim community and religion, fishers got very little help from their wealthy and capable friends and other family members. This was because fishing was considered unprofitable therefore nobody wanted to put their money in it. It was considered as both very important as an employment opportunity but very useless as it made no difference to those involved.

3- What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
The deeper understanding of daily activities. Apart from knowing what one does, we get to know when, how, with whom; these three elements are unique to this project and not found in others.

4- What are your thoughts so far, would you like to add something?
I could have been interesting to investigate all different activities in the community. It was mostly marine, and other activities came out as partial or alternative livelihoods thus not discussed in details.

Thank you!

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