Safety Information for Fieldwork

(1)Basic Information for Fieldwork

At the Division of African Area Studies (DAAS) of the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS) and the Center for African Area Studies (CAAS) of Kyoto University, several rules are in force for the sake of maintaining safety for our research activities in Africa. For those of you wishing to enroll in the DAAS, we wish to take this opportunity to list these rules in the interest of helping avoid excessive concern and anxiety.

This website does not contain a very detailed description of our safety measures. More extensive explanations will, however, be given at the orientation meeting held in early April each academic year and the Wednesday Seminars in May, in efforts to continuously update and share this information. Along with changes in the trends and conditions impacting the research countries, faculty members will also be furnishing timely advice to our graduate students. While negligence must be avoided at all times, Africa is by no means a dangerous location to visit or work in as long as the basic rules are adhered to. We look forward to you taking the utmost care in your efforts to gather information–thereby reaping maximum benefits from fieldwork, which is both fun and fruitful.

1-1Prior to Departure
A. Selecting a Research Site
Regarding the selection of research area, our graduate students choose their destinations and finalize their themes based on extensive consideration given to the security situation, the status of infectious diseases, and other pertinent matters. This involves obtaining proper information from reliable information of domestic and overseas news reports, followed by consultations with supervisors. Once the site of the scheduled fieldwork is decided, students turn to learning the procedures for obtaining visas and study permits as well as satisfying other requirements found in most of the countries.

In this regard, you will need to receive advice from your supervisors in getting started with the actual procedures. This also involves getting in contact with researchers, local acquaintances, and others at your planned destination in order to confirm the security situation, areas requiring caution, and other matters of concern. The general practice is for incoming students to discuss their scheduled safety measures at seminar presentations prior to leaving as well as receive pertinent advice from the faculty members and senior researchers at that time.

B. Obtaining Overseas Travel Insurance and Submission of Necessary Documents
In order to be prepared for the rare possibility of an emergency, each student is required to obtain overseas travel insurance. In addition, our graduate school takes out group insurance policies offered by the Japan IR&C Corporation. This makes it possible for our faculty and graduate students to obtain coverage for emergency-related expenses in the event of an accident, as well as other necessary assistance. For our overseas travel insurance coverage, we have chosen an insurer that maintains a strong network with health care facilities, airlines and other entities in Africa, Europe and Japan, and has also accumulated extensive experience and know-how in providing support in the case of emergencies.

At our graduate school, we require all individuals taking part in fieldwork to submit certain documentation upon traveling overseas. This includes their itinerary and emergency contacts (both in the research country and Japan) as well as copies of their overseas travel insurance policy, e-tickets, passport, and certification of proper vaccinations. We have developed a system in which faculty members can access such information online at the time of an emergency in order to make quick responses.

C. Preventive Vaccinations and Preparation of a Personal Medical Kit
During the first semester of each year, first-year students can attend classes presented by Dr. Toshimasa Nishiyama of Kansai Medical University on the subject of tropical diseases, where they can get basic information on the nature and transmission of tropical diseases as well as precautions. Regarding preventive vaccinations, inoculations against yellow fever, hepatitis A, tetanus, and rabies are needed when traveling to the majority of African countries. In addition, we recommend getting vaccinated against hepatitis B, cholera, and other diseases. Each year in May, we offer information on health care facilities where such inoculations may be received.

For your personal medical kit, it is necessary to prepare medicines for colds, diarrhea, insect bites, eyestrain, sunburn and other conditions, as well as medication normally taken in Japan for chronic personal health issues. It is also highly recommended that students complete any outstanding treatment for cavities or other dental conditions before leaving Japan. Taking along an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses is also important. Information about these matters is given each year in May. To ensure access to malaria-preventive drugs in the nations where fieldwork will be conducted, please confirm the locations of local pharmacies and other dispensaries.

1-2 After Departure: Prior to Research

  • 1. Report to the administrative agencies of the national or regional government, the police and other authorities in the research country, and inform them that the purpose of your stay is for academic research.
  • 2. Always take the time to inform your family, supervisors and other pertinent parties about the phone number of any locally-purchased mobile phone, your e-mail address, and other contact information.
  • 3. Stay in regular contact with your supervisors and report on your safety and general situation.

(2) Key Points for Safe Stay at the Research Site

  • a. You should constantly be in possession of or have ready access to copies of your passport, research permit, residence permit, overseas travel insurance policy, contact points during your research period, and other data. It is recommended not to normally carry around the originals of these documents, but rather to store them in a secure location.
  • b. To avoid the risk of troubles, always travel with reliable research assistants and avoid moving about on your own. It is also best to avoid venturing into sparsely populated areas or going out late at night. Unless necessary, always stay away from banks, money exchange counters, political gatherings, protest demonstrations and so on.
  • c. Use of any narcotics, stimulants or other illegal drugs is strictly banned. Avoid mistakenly transporting any such illegal substances back with you to Japan.
  • d. Strive to regularly obtain information updates via the Internet, shortwave radio, or other means. Likewise, please stay in close contact with your family and your supervisors by e-mail, telephone or other methods.
  • e. In the case of an emergency such as military coup, civil wars and terrorism, first secure your own safety and then contact your supervisors. Judgments will be rendered on the status of the situation, with faculty members playing a key role in closely working with the overseas travel insurance company to make a swift response as needed.

The foregoing is provided as basic safety information. For more details, students can get additional information from faculty members and senior researchers through the Wednesday Seminar in May every year. Because there may also be specific circumstances in the research countries, always contact faculty members to clarify any areas of uncertainty.