Publications

Citation Abstract
Cunningham, T., N. Botchwey, R. Dillingham, V. Netshandama, J. Boissevain, K. Firehock, G. Learmonth, G. Louis. 2009. Understanding Water Perceptions in Limpopo Province: A Photovoice Community Assessment. Environmental Pollution and Public Health, IEEE The authors implemented a modified photovoice project, Ngudo Nga Zwinepe (NNZ) (Learning through Photos), in a village in Limpopo Province, South Africa where water resources are scarce and often contaminated. This project is a first step in a collaboration between the University of Virginia and the University of Venda to develop a model for sustainable water, health and environmental development. NNZ engaged community representatives in an effort to assess and improve the community’s water system. These participants presented the study results to their community, promoting local buy-in. The research team used content analysis methodologies to develop codes and themes regarding water beliefs. Contrary to the researchers’ expectation, the participants did not prioritize the health risks of contaminated water over infrastructure and financing issues. To maintain community engagement throughout the larger project, the researchers must address the community’s primary concerns in the shorter-term while developing educational strategies regarding the health risks of contaminated water.
Schoppa, M., R. Smith, E. Boehmer, E. Rabopape, G. Motabe, A. Mantisi, V. Netshandama, G. Louis, N. Botchwey. 2010. Bypassing Politics: Education as a Powerful yet Neutral Community Engagement Plan. Virginia Policy Review 4(1): 20-23.

During the summer of 2010, a team of University of Virginia students set out to continue the ongoing Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) proj­ect with the aim to improve water access in rural South Africa. Working collaboratively with students from the University of Venda in South Africa, we designed a community engagement plan to supplement the simulta­neous construction of a slow-sand water filter by our colleagues, a fourth year engineering Capstone team. Before we arrived in Lim­popo, our community engagement strategy was loosely defined. We were not sure what methods would work best for the rural vil­lages with which the WHIL project has part­nered since 2008. After extensive research, we tentatively planned to engage the youth in these communities by teaching water health and hygiene in primary schools.
Tyeryar, M., J. Reed, C. Hackett, M. Gilmore, L. Abebe, A. Singo. 2011. A Study of the Feasibility of Creating a Ceramic Water Filter Factory in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Public 119-127 In the summer of 2010, a Jefferson Public Citizens team traveled to Thohoyandou in the Limpopo Province of South Africa to conduct a feasibility study for building a ceramic water filter factory there. The region suffers from high incidences of HIV and of diarrhea resulting from waterborne illnesses. Membrane filtration and turbidity tests of water samples from over 200 households in two rural communities reveal that only 3.9% meet World Health Organization standards. An in-home survey about current water practices and water beliefs was administered in these homes. Participants ranked the desired traits of a water treatment technology and results suggest that ceramic water filters would be a socially acceptable solution for members of the two rural villages. These filters are a simple, effective, easy to use, and easy to maintain technology that can be locally manufactured with available resources. The team investigated willingness-to-pay for water treatment and for the filters. Over 96% of participants would be interested in buying a filter. The availability of raw materials was determined and clay sample analysis has begun. The team interviewed possible potters with whom to partner and chose the most suitable candidate. Initial contacts were also made at the municipal Department of Health and government health clinics to explore opportunities for filter subsidies, filter promotion, and water-health education programs. Based on the positive results of the project, several members of the group plan to continue their work and return to the region to facilitate the creation a ceramic water filter factory.
Boehmer E, R. Smith, M Schoppa, A. Mantsi, G. Motabe, E. Rapopabe, N. Botchwey, G. Louis. 2011.Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL): Engaging Communities through Water, Health, and Leadership Education in Limpopo, South Africa. Public: 151-159 The ongoing Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) Project, in partnership with the University of Venda, is working to assess and implement a means to enhance the quantity and quality of water for the rural South African communities of Tshapasha and Tshibvumo. The 2010 WHIL team employed a Slow-Sand Filter and a Community Engagement component, with the objectives of installing improved water-filtration technology and educating the community about sanitation in order to augment community involvement in this infrastructure. During the eight weeks spent in the villages, the team encountered considerable impediments to the construction of the filter due to political discord. However, the project’s initiatives ─in the form of a Clean Water Camp in primary schools, a message board and a public Water Fair─ demonstrated the value of community engagement in bypassing political issues, encouraging autonomous initiative in students and ultimately fostering a healthier partnership between the WHIL team and the community members.
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