My Postdoc Project

DELTAP project:                                                                                                                                  Small-scale piped water supply in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta                   Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Urbanization of deltas puts a severe stress on availability of clean, safe drinking water and therefore threatens the lives of millions, mostly affecting the poorest. Water supply in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta (GBM Delta) in India and Bangladesh is predominantly organized through the use of scattered household hand-pumps, where the water safety is un-controlled, leading to contaminant exposure. Thereby, arsenic-contaminated groundwater, causing a widespread, serious health risk exposing millions of people worldwide (Smith et al., 2002; Chowdhury, 2010), is a serious problem in the GBM Delta (Acharyya et al., 2000; Nickson et al., 2000; Acharyya and Shah, 2006). And to date, arsenic mitigation strategies have collectively disappointed, due to the financial, institutional, environmental, technical and social complexity of the arsenic problem.

Centralized water supply through Small-scale Piped Water Supply (SPWS; IRC, 1981, Ahmed, 2002, Trifunovic, 2002, WHO, 2005) offers crucial advantages over other technological interventions, as it targets the safest source in the area, provides a degree of centralization (<100 households) for water quality control and treatment, provides in-house or courtyard tap connections, which are socially-economically desirable, and limits the number of (re-)contamination events between water collection and consumption. According to Dreibelbis et al., 2013, the success of interventions to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices ultimately rests on the ability to foster and maintain behaviour change. To improve the accessibility, applicability, acceptance and adoption of the SPWS system, the end-users and other stakeholders should be included (Donaldson 2009; Nakata and Weidner 2012; Prahalad 2012; Robertson and Simonsen 2012; Wilkinson and De Angeli 2014). Stakeholder interaction and participation leads to a thorough understanding of the social, technical and economic factors that play a role in the region. In the end, end-users determine the (changing) water demand and can guarantee rootedness in the local context.

Aim of this project                                                                                                                                    To involve potential end-users in research and monitoring of the water supply system, Mobile Crowd Participation (MCP) can be deployed. Mobile phones are more and more used to “collectively share data and extract information to measure and map phenomena of common interest” (Ganti, Ye, and Lei 2011). This is called ‘Mobile Crowd Sensing’. Mobile Crowd Participation means not only extracting information from participants, but also to interact with end-users and let them participate in the development of these phenomena.

In this research, the MCP tools rely on mobile phone applications (apps), which can be utilized for end-user interaction, water quality analyses, behavioural change studies, real-time monitoring, and also facilitates a dialogue with the end-user, both pre- and post SPWS implementation. Access to mobile services in the developing world has outpaced the rate at which much of the population is gaining access to basic services such as electricity, sanitation, and banking (GSMA, 2013). And mobile phone coverage has increased rapidly over the past decade in Bangladesh and India.

The main research goal of this project is: Investigating the possibilities and added value of using Mobile Crowd Participation as a research tool for water projects in developing regions.