2012 Interdisciplinary Research Trip
On April 30, 2012 a team of professors from GVSU traveled to Haiti to research water and the cultural aspects of water interventions in Haiti. This research was funded by the GVSU Center for Scholarly Excellence. We received additional support from Padnos International Center (PIC) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS).
The primary aim of this study is to better understand the interactions between cultural perceptions regarding water, water quality data, and water consumption. The interdisciplinary approach effectively combines and synthesizes these data to understand behaviors and practices regarding water in Haiti. The study will provide actionable data and recommendations to governments and NGOs in Haiti, and other underdeveloped countries, to reduce illness and mortality resulting from the consumption of unsafe water. Study findings and publications will make water systems in underdeveloped countries more resilient and sustainable, and provide guidance to policy makers.
Here is the abstract of our grant:
"This project will use interdisciplinary methods to assess cultural factors that influence water use behavior and perceptions in Haiti. Socioeconomic, geologic, public health, and cultural factors that influence drinking water quality are interrelated in a complex manner that can make sustainable water quality interventions problematic. Currently, most water quality interventions and water resource studies lack cultural and ethnographic context. Participant observation, intensive ethnographic survey, and Focus Group Discussion will be used to collect qualitative and quantitative ethnographic data. In addition, samples of surface and groundwater sources will be collected and analyzed for enteric bacteria and other water quality parameters such as turbidity and conductivity. Anticipated outcomes of this research will be: 1) expanded use and integration of ethnographic methods to understand water resources in Haiti; 2) a better understanding of local water contaminant levels; 3) qualitative and quantitative data about public perceptions and socioeconomic factors that influence water contamination and consumption; 4) strategies and recommendations for providing a safe and sustainable water supply Haiti and other underdeveloped countries. Study results will be shared with NGOs in Haiti, and other underdeveloped countries, so that culturally sustainable water interventions can be planned and implemented."
You can see photos of the trip here.
The first paper to be published based on this work was just made available on-line by the International Journal of Health Geographic.