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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24346

Title: Participatory Action Research for Environmental Health among Senegalese Peri-urban Farmers
Authors: Chaudhuri, Ipsita Nita
Advisor: Cole, Donald
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: participatory action research
environmental health
risk perception
Issue Date: 19-Apr-2010
Abstract: Participatory action research (PAR) oriented by an eco-system health framework is one approach to involving marginalised peoples in their own problem solving. A PAR project during 2005-06 that engaged peri-urban farmers in Senegal using popular education documented change on environment and health perceptions and behaviour. Health as a theme took on greater importance, as farmers related good health to their ability to work and their overall productivity. Farmers came to better recognize the symptoms of pesticide poisoning and to establish more clearly the link between pesticide-related work practices and health effects. Less clear remained their recognition of symptoms and links with wastewater use practices, though malaria and parasitic infection were linked to urban agriculture. African worldviews, including notions of locus of power, were important determinants of perceived vulnerability to risks. Farmers cited fatigue as an important clue to the work-health interface and indicator of overall wellbeing. Farmers’ understanding evolved to become more dynamic, describing the complex web of environmentally-related health risk. By 2006, farmers experimented more with less toxic pest control methods, adjusted their clothing to protect their skin and mouth, and reduced some exposure pathways through improved hygiene behaviour. However, toxic pesticides continued to be used and exposure to wastewater with limited protection remained widespread. Change was dependent upon: the researcher’s deep understanding of how farmers learned; farmers’ trust in the purveyors of new information; and the clarity, consistency and relevance of messages devised. Change varied with farmers’ literacy; the language used; and the way in which tools and media were interpreted culturally and technically. The health belief model provided a partial explanation for changes in perceptions and behaviour. Social, political and economic barriers preventing change included: leaving the onus for change on farmers, diminishing the responsibility of pesticide manufacturers and governments; land tenure arrangements which reduced investment in health and environment protection; urban poverty and illiteracy; and eco-system constraints. Examination of the PAR process, its leadership, owners, tools and ideas developed, and knowledge created provided useful insight into issues of power and control.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24346
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology - Doctoral theses

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