The appropriateness of any development technology depends on its suitability to meet the needs, circumstances and capacities of the people in a unique and challenging environment. This paper focuses on the importance of collaborative innovation that harmonizes technical ingenuity with user satisfaction while working within social and environmental constraints. The people of Mylai Balaji Nagar (MBN), a low-income, peri-urban community on the fringe of Chennai, India, were recruited to participate in the design of an alternative safe water system with researchers from the University of Guelph and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. The community obtains its drinking water from a nearby lake known to contain dangerously high concentrations of faecal indicator bacteria, implicated in diarrhoeal disease. This study employed a participatory design framework for the development of a safe water system capable of removing or rendering inactive bacterial pathogens and making the water safe for human consumption. Researchers undertook a five stage participatory design process modeled after participatory action research, to develop a household water filtration system. Following labo- ratory assessment to assess bacteriological and organics control efficacy, four treatment prototypes were presented to, and critiqued by, community representatives for their appropriateness to context.
|Keywords:||Participatory Action Research, Collaborative Innovation, Water Treatment, South Asia, Slum|
Project Coordinator, Alternative Water Systems Project, School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Vice President (Research), University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
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