Talk • Towards safe drinking water and clean cooking for all (Isha Ray, Professor, University of California, Berkeley)

December 8, 2021 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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The public health community has tried for decades to show, through evidence-based research, that safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and clean cooking fuels that reduce household air pollution are essential to safeguard health and save lives in low-income and middle-income countries. In the past 40 decades, there have been many innovations in the development of low-cost and efficacious technologies for WASH and household air pollution, but many of these technologies have been associated with disappointing health outcomes, often because low-income households have either not adopted, or inconsistently adopted, these technologies. In this Viewpoint, we argue that public health researchers (ourselves included) have had an oversimplified understanding of poverty; our work has not focused on insights into the lived experience of poverty, with its uncertainties, stresses from constant scarcity, and attendant fears. Such insights are central to understanding why technologies for safe water or clean cooking are unused by so many households that could benefit from them. We argue that, rather than improved versions of household-scale delivery models, transformative investments in safe water and clean cooking for all require utility-scale service models. Until then, research should focus on interim safe water and clean cooking options that are directed towards the utility-scale service model.

About the Speaker:

Isha Ray is Professor at the Energy and Resources Group (University of California, Berkeley) and Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion at the Rausser College of Natural Resources. She has a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and a PhD in Applied Economics from Stanford University.

Dr. Ray’s research interests are water and development; sanitation, gender and development; and technology and society. Her research projects focus on access to water and sanitation for the rural and urban poor, and on the role of technology in advancing sustainable development goals. She and her students have worked on access to, and affordability of, domestic water and energy in India, China, Turkey, Mexico, Tanzania and California’s Central Valley. She teaches courses on research methods in the social sciences, community-driven development, and water and development.Dr. Ray serves as a reviewer for 18 peer-reviewed journals, has extensive experience in the international non-profit sector on development and fresh water issues, and isa regular adviser to United Nations Women.


December 8, 2021
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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