Human health is put at risk when access to a safe and secure water supply is lacking.
Problems associated with inadequate water availability continue to burden countries in the developing world, particularly among populations living in rural areas. One developing country currently facing water issues is Nepal, with numerous rural communities lacking household access to potable water. Conventional water supplies such as piped or pumped water are generally not available in remote areas, and the quality of groundwater is often compromised due to natural contamination with arsenic. This is detrimental to the health and well being of many Nepali people.
Rainwater harvesting systems have been recognized as a possible solution to water access difficulties and have been increasingly promoted and installed in rural Nepal. Rainwater harvesting is based on the concept of collecting, storing and using water that has been collected from rooftops.
For years, Jane Heyworth has been interested in researching the health impacts of rainwater consumption. Hannah Barrington is completing the Population Health Honours Program at SPH this year, and with Jane as her supervisor, she will be investigating the relationship between rainwater harvesting systems and health in rural communities in Nepal.
Jane and Hannah will be arriving in Nepal on April 26, and during their stay, they will be visiting villages and communities in rural areas of the country. Over the coming months, Hannah will be working closely with a local non-government organisation, Kanchan Nepal. She will be drawing upon community participation in the development and pilot of survey materials for her research identifying the health and water usage impacts of rainwater harvesting systems. Hannah and Jane have their bags packed and are looking forward to a great cultural adventure.
Stay tuned for the results of this exciting research project.
By Hannah Barrington (abstract from newsletter of UWA, April, 2011)