About 13 million people across 8 states in India are estimated to be affected by arsenic contamination in drinking water. Despite three decades of substantial mitigation efforts, absence of public forums for knowledge sharing and lack of scalable field pilots have remained deterrents. This deep-rooted and trans-disciplinary developmental problem requires a long-term, multi-pronged strategy for successful mitigation.
Addressing the root-causes of the contamination issue, a knowledge and action network coupled with action research projects have been conceptualized for arsenic. Existing communities of practice on arsenic will be tapped to build the network that will widen its reach to include larger audiences. The network is aimed at identifying and resolving research and implementation gaps in arsenic through knowledge sharing, small-scale research and innovations at the field level. Broad frameworks will be constructed for mitigating arsenicosis and tested at the field level, supported by development of scalable models to aid their mainstreaming.
The network will be centrally anchored by a Secretariat and surrounded by a core executive committee which will consist of subject experts and others relevant to the topic. They will be supported by a governing body to provide strategic guidance to the network and aid decision making. The network will be further aided and propelled by an expanded constituency of engaged audiences and groups such as NGOs, research institutions, donors, media, industry and common citizens. Being the first-of-its-kind, the network architecture will be flexible and open to improvisation.
SaciWATERs, South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, was formed as a project on the theme “water for food and rural development” after the 2000 World Water Forum at Hague, was established with the aim of bringing a paradigm perspective. Based in Hyderabad, India, the consortium comprises accomplished scholars acd activists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SaciWATERs produces new knowledge to address the pressing problems in the water sector in south Asia through education, research and advocacy. It has created a new group of professionals and experts through its Crossing Boundaries Project which aims to contribute to the paradigm shift in water resources management in South Asia by means of various partnership-based programmes for capacity building of water professionals through higher education, innovative and social learning focused research (“research with an impact”), knowledge based development and networking.