How often do people move in Eastern Congo? Why? And from where to where? How do migrants settle in a village? Are they hosted upon arrival? And if so by whom? To answer these questions I collected complete migration histories, plus a lot more, from 8,199 individuals in the Buhavu chiefdom of Congo’s South Kivu province.


Download the complete dataset at the household, individual or movement level. Download.


  • IRB: IRB-AAAI0272. November 15, 2011.
  • Mapping Form. PDF.
  • Mapping Manual. PDF.
  • Team Leader Survey. PDF.
  • Protocol and Codesheet. PDF.


  • People: Peter van der Windt
  • Partners: None
  • Funding: Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Massimo Morelli
  • Location: South Kivu, DR Congo.
  • Participants: 4,015 households from 24 villages.


In the picture below I explain the “Migration Game” to Eustache, Jean Jacques and Desire (three of the best enumerators in Congo). Making use of the Migration Game to collect information about migration histories was a very good idea.


From a blog post:

“The plan was to do this with a “normal” short survey. And not to waste paper I programmed the survey in four PDAs. Well; that did not work. The reason is that most Congolese prefer to tell a story instead of briefly answering a question. For example, to the question “In how many villages did you live?” a respondent would not answer “4”. No. The person would reply “Well. I was born in Nyamotwe. Then in 1997 I left to Goma for work. Then I lived there for 3 years, but in 2003 due to fighting I was forced to leave to Bunyakiri, etc. etc.” You see my point. The respondent tells a long and we would only write down “4”. BUT it’s exactly this story – with all its rich information – that we’re interested in! So: the Migration Game to the rescue.

[…] In brief, migration is a difficult topic to study. It is difficult to define because people move for different reasons (motivation-dimension), at different times (time-dimension) and to different places (location-dimension). Cutting each of these dimensions at a different place gives very different definitions. So to do it properly (in my opinion) one needs the whole story – the whole migration history. But to do a “normal” survey to obtain that information is time-consuming and flat-out boring. Not so with the Migration Game!

The Game is nothing more than a large game-board with codes and several pawns, on which you place a blank A4-paper that is to be filled out. This Game Board was designed together with my little brother when I was in the Netherlands last time – he is great in designing and now the board has an Okapi and all on it (PDF). The point is that the surveyor draws the whole migration history of the respondent while the respondent is telling his/her story. A circle is a village. Inside those circles we have the name of the village and the Chefferie. Then between villages we have arrows indicating displacement. And next to these arrows we write why the person moved, with how many people and in what year. Then at the end when we have the whole migration history drawn we ask in which villages the person has fields and we place the pawns on the game-board as well. After also getting ethnicity information and the GPS-location of the household, we’re done. We noticed that this doesn’t only give us much richer information; it’s also much faster and more fun.”