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Bengali women's ideas about water quality

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conference contribution
posted on 2018-02-12, 15:10 authored by Suzanne Hanchett, Kazi R. Akhter, Shireen Akhter
Respecting cultural beliefs and customary practices is part of the rights- and commons-based thinking about water. The focus is on place-based practices and beliefs. Incorporating indigenous beliefs into any new, participatory approach to water management, however, is quite challenging to the scientifically oriented development professional. This paper explains to the basics of cultural views of water among Bengali-speaking people of the southern, eastern, and western parts of the Bangladesh delta. Examples are drawn from the authors’ work on arsenic in drinking water and other WASH issues. Ideas such as hot/cold or pure/impure are perceived as “superstitions” by many scientists. If our thinking about water life is to change in the direction the commons-based approach suggests -- to incorporate indigenous views into place-based planning – the main obstacle will be with those who now have the upper hand, not those who are marginalized. Planning processes should be organized in ways that respect local views and take them into consideration when introducing new technologies.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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WEDC Conference


HANCHETT, S. ... et al, 2015. Bengali women's ideas about water quality. IN: Shaw, R.J. (ed). Water, sanitation and hygiene services beyond 2015 - Improving access and sustainability: Proceedings of the 38th WEDC International Conference, Loughborough, UK, 27-31 July 2015, 5pp.


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