184794 Arsenic contamination in drinking water: Perceptions and practices of a rural communityof Bangladesh

Monday, October 27, 2008: 3:35 PM

Aasma Afroz , Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dr.MD Yunus , Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Arsenic - a highly carcinogenic toxic agent released through the hand pumped tube wells used for drinking water is affecting millions of peoples of Bangladesh. To understand the health consequences of high exposure of arsenic a study was conducted in Matlab, field site of ICDDR,B in the population aged from 5 and above and were screened for arsenic related skin liasons, collected drinking water history and tested all functioning tube wells for arsenic contamination. In collaboration with BRAC a mitigation program was implemented to provide safe drinking water but the effort failed to attain expected rate of response and the community continued using the contaminated water. Therefore, this ethnographic study was undertaken in a rural village of Matlab to understand peoples' perception towards arsenic contamination and its effect on health, attitude towards the mitigation options introduced in the community. A series of ethnographic tools (FGD, In-depth interviews, Key informants interview) were implemented for data collection from Januarys to July 2004. The findings of the study suggested that, choice of the drinking water depends on taste and smell, easy accessibility and availability throughout the year. Lack of awareness about arsenic contamination and its affect on health, adequate information on alternative options and financial affordability were the major factors for the unwillingness to turn to alternative sources for safe drinking water. Lack of adequate information on mitigation options from the program and peoples own perceptions about the drinking water were the main reasons for not accepting the alternative of safe water options.

Learning Objectives:
1. Audience can learn the role and influence of cultural beliefs and traditoinal practices 2. Audience would get a better understanding on necessity of learning local peoples choice before implementing intervention programs.

Keywords: Community Health, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: i was involved in the data collection, analysis and report writing process of the research
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.