Ethical challenges when conducting research in rural, post-conflict areas: experiences from South Sudan (Poster)

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2019-03

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Research Projects

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South Sudan is the world’s newest state and due to its conflict-ridden history, it experiences some of the worst human developmental outcomes. Humanitarian organizations are increasingly recognizing the need of evidence-based research to inform policy and programming. South Sudan presents several challenges which influences how research is conducted. First, the capacity of the ethics review board to review technical proposals is not clear. South Sudan, especially in rural areas, is a difficult place to collect primary data. Language barriers complicate informed consent processes as it is difficult getting native speakers who can translate complex research terms to the local language. Lack of qualified translators may mean data collection especially during translation, important nuances may be lost. Due to low education levels, it is also difficult to find and hire literate research assistants. Laptops and any type of recording devices are viewed with suspicion in South Sudan and often requires special permits to carry, which complicates the research process. Identifying information such as tribe is difficult to collect owing to historical issues of ethnic profiling of specific groups thus emphasizing the need for confidentiality. In some instances, community gatekeepers are armed actors, making it difficult to discern between coercion and voluntary participation. In South Sudan, study respondents travel long distances to participate in research activities. However they are not reimbursed as it is difficult to balance between compensating them for exposure to the study risks and paying them an amount that constitutes undue influence.

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AUTHOR AFFILIATION: Janet Wanjiku Mugo, International Rescue Committee, South Sudan, jwamu8@gmail.com

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