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Research approach

There are serious uncertainties about what would be a suitable approach to the arsenic problem. Complexity, cultural barriers, social inequalities and time constraints muddle a comprehensive understanding of the problem. One cannot predict the exact impacts of an intervention at the village level; a project runs the risk of bypassing the poor and strengthening existing power relations. Programs are likely to persistently fail in the absence of adequate feedback mechanisms that will bring insights from praxis back into policymaking. Here we see a critical task for research.

If people’s participation is to be taken seriously, the research tools must be chosen during the process and not before. As outsiders we can predict neither the exact development process, nor the specific instruments required to properly describe it. Research must draw from a wide range of methodologies and lets theory emerge from praxis.

Our research publications, proposals and presentations

Associated research and studies

In 2014, several desktop research projects were performed in the context of the Interdisciplinary Project course that is part of the bachelor Future Planet Studies at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam. The course aims to design and execute research in an interdisciplinary team and to produce new insights with regard to current complex issues: A heuristic approach for arsenic mitigation in BangladeshArsenic contamination in the Mekong Delta: a looming danger for the food system?An interdisciplinary approach to resolve arsenic poisoning of rural poor Bangladesh.

In 2012, AMRF hosted an international workshop in Dhaka and Munshiganj district. It was funded by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) International Research Collaboration Scheme and co-organised by the UNSW Institute of Environmental Studies (IES). This was a follow up of a visit to arsenic affected communities in India in 2011: AMRF hosting international workshops on Arsenic Mitigation and Resilience in WaterwaysVisit to arsenic affected communities in India. One of the participants reported on our programme: Arvanitakis, J. (2014). “Bangladesh and arsenic: a case study.” Social Space 2014-2015(6): 72-73.

Here is an article presenting findings about the quality of water from the deep tube-wells installed as part of our programme. The article is the result of a collaboration with the Department of Geosciences at Utrecht University, the Department of Biotechnology at Delft University of Technology, and the Department of Geotechnology at Delft University of Technology: Sutton, N. B., G. M. van der Kraan, et al. (2009). “Characterization of geochemical constituents and bacterial populations associated with As mobilization in deep and shallow tube wells in Bangladesh.” Water Research 43(6): 1720-1730.

The 165th anniversary of Delft University of Technology in 2007 was dedicated to Sustainability and Development. One of the major activities was that ten staff/students from TU Delft travelled to projects in developing countries and reported on the role of engineering. Our project was also visited, and described in a chapter of the anniversary book: Dählmann, A. (2008). Who are the experts? Sustainable Management of Arsenic contamination in rural Bangladesh in M. van der Sanden, (ed.). You can’t just blame the crocodile, Delft engineers travel into sustainability, Delft University of Technology.