In Tanzania, there has been a strong ethic to participate in research for the benefit of the country and that implies a reciprocal responsibility for researchers. Therefore, in the research we did with the Maasai, we explicitly avoided the use of the word research (utafiti) so as not to give the impression that we did not respect that implicit arrangement. The two villages where we did research were rural villages populated with Maasai people, but they were not unaccustomed to outside research. In one of the villages, the chief had taken to visiting women the day before a research team arrived to prime them as to what they were to say when the research team arrived. In our case, the women had all been primed to say that water was the most important issue. Many of the respondents to the exit surveys were concerned at the end that we had not given them the opportunity to say water (since of course our research was not about their development needs).
I was and continue to be very concerned about the impact of research on the villages I work in, but I can safely say that these villages were not in some sort of pristine pre-research state. That said, our research was so different from what anyone expected, that I am very confident that our results were not tainted by expectations.
Some people earned significant sums of money and many of these were the poorer and older members of the village. I cannot say with assurance that the money was put to good use, but I can testify that, as I handed people the money, the looks on their faces were very satisfying. People were genuinely surprised that I kept my word and gave them money and they were very pleased with the amounts they earned. Their surprise at seeing a promise fulfilled is a testament to the dishonesty of the average researcher in this area.