Sunday, June 27, 2010

Preparing for Fieldwork in Tanzania

As I have covered packing for fieldwork I thought I would cover some of the logistical issues one has to deal with when coming to Tanzania. I also thought this might be of interest to friends and family who just see me come and go each year and may not actually know all the work involved. Some of these tips will be useful for travel to other parts of the world but most are specific to Tanzania.

Before you go:

Apply for funding. This is a whole other world of pain and you will often be applying for funding before, during, and after fieldwork.

Apply for research clearance from COSTECH (The Tanzanian Commission on Science and Technology) for all participants. This should be done approximately 6 months you go. It costs $50 USD to apply (one fee for the single application, does not matter how many people are associated with the project) and $300 USD per person for the permit once approved. It helps to notify the Director of the Department of Antiquities (Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism) that you are applying for COSTECH clearance as they will be reviewing your file. You will not be able to receive an excavation permit without COSTECH clearance and will not receive COSTECH clearance without approval of Antiquities. You are required to have a local collaborator for your COSTECH application so it is best to have positive working relationships with your Tanzanian colleagues.

Once you have received notice of approval from COSTECH you can apply for your visa from the Tanzanian High Commission in Ottawa. You will have to have a Tanzanian colleague located in Tanzania assist you as you will need to include copies of your COSTECH permits with this application. Your colleague can pick them up at COSTECH and pay for them ($300 USD per person) then scan them in and email the scans to you. Single entry visas cost $75 CND and multiple entry cost $150 CND

Book your flights. This can occur at any point during the planning process.

Get vaccinations and get prescriptions for anti-malarial pills. If you have not travelled to Tanzania, it is best to go to the Traveler’s Health Clinic as they are specifically trained for informing you about what is required and other associated travel health risks. If you just require an anti-malarial prescription, it is best to just visit your family doctor as the Traveler’s Health Clinic will charge you a $48 fee.

Check in with the appropriate people in your department, and any other appropriate office at your University.

Return any collections you may have borrowed for study in previous years.

Register with the Canadian High Commission in Dar es Salaam via their webpage ( This ensures that should any issue arrive which may prove a concern to your safety, the High Commission can contact you and get you out if necessary.

Get USD. Traveler’s cheques are becoming difficult to change anywhere in Tanzania but Dar es Salaam. US dollars in $20, $50, and $100 denominations work best. Do not worry about getting Tanzanian shillings (TSH) before you go. You can readily change these at the airport upon arrival (and you can get surprisingly good rates with no fees all over the place).

Upon arrival:

Visit the Department of Antiquities to drop off your application for an Excavation License. Again you can speed up the process if you have a colleague drop this off before you even arrive. Your application includes a short project proposal and budget. 5% of this budget is what you will pay for the excavation permit. Once your proposal has been approved you will be asked to pay your fee which you can do in USD or by traveler’s cheques. You will then receive a copy of the License which will notify you as to who is your Antiquities Officer. This Officer will accompany you during your entire field season. You are required to pay them a salary and cover their room and expenses. They will write up letters of introduction for you which are necessary for visiting government offices in your particular study area.

Arrange for transportation. You can hire a 4 wheel drive vehicle and driver from one of many reputable safari or car rental companies. You will generally pay a flat fee, plus kilometers, plus gas, plus room, food, and salary for the driver. It is worth the expense as your driver is also a mechanic and will ensure that your vehicle remains in working condition.

Visit the Tanzanian Department of Immigration (Uhamiaji). You will be required to have your immigration status changed to a Class C which will allow you to undertake research during your visit (your visa just gets you in the country). It will cost $120 USD and can take weeks to process. It is a grueling process and it is highly recommended you visit this office with a Tanzanian colleague who can help facilitate the process. You will have to fill out a form (in duplicate), provide 5 passport photos, and copies of your Curriculum Vitae (CV), COSTECH permit, passport photo and passport visa pages. You submit your application and will be given an receipt which provides the date for your appointment. At this appointment you should be able to pay for your Class C residence permit. Hopefully you will be able to receive your permit at this time (or sometime that day); often you are told to return in a few days. Plan on needing at least 10 – 14 days for this step alone.

Acquire any supplies you need that you did not bring with you or cannot acquire in your study area.

Coordinate your team as to when you are departing.

Once all the steps above are completed you can finally head out to the field. We usually are in Dar for 10 days before being able to leave for fieldwork. Be prepared to spend many hours waiting around in offices. Getting frustrated will not help but you must be persistent. Do not leave until you have spoken to someone and do not hesitate to return to offices day after day to make sure something is being done. Again if you can have a local colleague help you out do so; this process can be moved along much quicker with help than if you attempt to do it all on your own. Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Katie. That's some serious preparation that needs to be done and a lot of patience that needs to be had. I had no idea, I sort of thought you just showed up and started digging. :)

    Safe travels!