Contextualizing Well Being in Rural India

Center for Knowledge Societies is always bustling with activity, flowing with a sense of determined purpose and engaging in intense dialogues. Needless to say, my time here has been quite involving. I have been a part of many interesting projects and workshops that range from understanding the scope of sensing technologies and the internet of things in India to helping a startup create financial product bundles for the urban poor. As an organization, we work across all development sectors, provide mentorship and space to emerging entrepreneurs, host study groups at the Vihara Innovation Network where many intellectual and progressive conversations take place. Some of these conversations have lead us to think more about using inter-sectoral approaches in understanding the challenges of sectors such as health, sanitation and clean cooking.

22b-laos-savannaket-improved-cookstoves-102Diarrohea and Respiratory infections are some of the predominant causes of deaths in India. Our prior fieldworks in the rural areas of India show that many households do not practice basic hygiene practices either because they are not aware of them or find them difficult to practice. Despite many handwash campaigns, improved toilets and clean cooking solutions the problems continue to remain. In 2013, we established the Bihar Innovation Lab, that looked specifically into Maternal and Child public health delivery systems, and now we are focusing on more overtly framing the challenge of family health and well-being through exploring links between drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and cooking practices in the rural areas of India.

This has lead us to do a qualitative study where currently we are busy with domain research, interviewing experts from WaSH and Health sector, and delving into evolving theories of well-being in India as well as globally. Our research so far suggests that perhaps we should look at health collectively and not cookstove-asiaindividually in India. Some of the broader household challenges we have identified are no access to clean drinking water, no access to water for home and personal hygiene, open defecation and set user mindsets and attitudes around the same, poor solid and liquid waste management, persistent use of traditional fuels for cooking, poorly ventilated architecture, and lack of awareness around health and hygiene practices.

Post this, we will be getting into analysis phase – identifying failures, their consequences and the nature of challenges. We are hoping that this Failure Case Analysis will help us understand the finer granularities within these challenges and help us analyse them through different lenses for good. We will share more on this soon.

This entry was posted in Design Challenges, Design!publiC. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *