Questionnaires Do Not Work! A Comparison of Methods Used to Evaluate the Structure of Buildings and Wood Used in Rural Households, South Africa

J. Y. Gaugris, M. W. van Rooyen


The level of hardwood utilisation for house building was
evaluated in a rural community of Maputaland, KwaZulu-
Natal, South Africa. A full inventory of 42 households in
that community was conducted, followed by a questionnaire
survey coupled with a partial inventory of the same
households. It was expected that the questionnaire design
would be greatly improved by the prior survey, and that
similar quantitative results could be obtained. The results
show that despite a careful design, the questionnaires
and coupled partial inventories provided significantly different
results, thus placing considerable doubts on any
research solely based on questionnaire results without
proper ground proofing. The reasons for such differences
are unclear. The main advantage of the questionnaire
survey resided in the qualitative insight it offered for the
analysis of the data.

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