Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Safe Water and Better Nutrition for Fluorosis Mitigation

The Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network (FKAN) in association with INREM Foundation organized a program titled “Safe Water and Fluoride Learning Workshop”. It was held on the 23rd and the 24th June 2016 at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). The event received a good response with nearly 45 participants from 8 states and 22 organizations around the country. The agenda for the workshop was to understand the current happenings on the Safe water and Fluorosis Issue and to be able to form strategies for action in respective areas of work. This was to ensure fluorosis mitigation happens with a common framework.

But the program for training started from 20th June itself for the Fluoride Fellows. I was one among the participant and the Fluoride Fellow with FKAN. The entire program ran over the week was divided into different phases for specific participants. 

The first phase involved training for the participants who have been closely working with the fluoride mitigation in their own region with FKAN and also for new recruits joining the network. This phase involved cross learning between these participants. Eight Fluoride Fellows were selected who were trained in coming sessions on the basics, issues, debates, solutions and strategies for fluorosis mitigation. These fellows would further facilitate the learning among other participants on the 23rd and 24th June.

The eight fellows selected for different regions are mentioned below

Sl no
Region of Work
Arvind Singh
INREM Foundation
Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh
Sachin Vani
INREM Foundation
Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh
Kalpana Bilwal
INREM Foundation
Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh
K Subhash
Fluorosis Vimukti Porata Samiti
Nalgonda, Telangana
Sadguru Prasad
Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network
Nalgonda, Telangana
Dharini Saikia
Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network
Nagoan, Assam
Biome Environmental Trust
Kiran Kumar Sen
Biome Environmental Trust

The fellows from the Jhabua, Nalgonda and Assam shared their work and experiences in working on Fluorosis. They were asked to come up with the basic details, issues and solutions for Fluorosis mitigation.  Later these fellows were trained using flash cards on safe water, fluorosis and its issues, debates and solutions for Fluorosis mitigation by Sunderrajan Krishnan and Rajnarayan Indu of INREM Foundation. These flash cards proved successful in improving learning among Fellows. 

Fellows under training session using flash cards, 20-21st June 2016

In the second phase, these flash cards learning methodology were put to test with participants closely working on the issues of water and environment from Anand. These participants were facilitated in learning by the Fellows. These participants gave their feedback on the use of these flash cards. Most of them praised for this simple, yet effective methodology. 

Training Session with participants from Anand, 22nd June 2016

In the last phase i.e. on the 23rd and 24th June, the workshop started formally with arrival of participants who worked with diverse issues related to Children, Women, Self Help Groups, Microfinance, Education, Health, Media, Environment, Water etc. These participants were briefed on the overall Safe water and fluorosis Issue together. 

Common Session on Overall Safe water fluoride Issue, IRMA, Anand, 23rd June 2016

The session on demonstration and short films cleared many doubts among the participants regarding fluoride removal techniques, water quality tests for fluoride identification in the field. They were shown demonstration with chemicals and Caddisfly, testing for fluoride with mobile app.

Demonstration Session in Progress for Fluoride Testing, 23rd June 2016

Later, the participants were divided into 3 groups named on rivers i.e. Godavari, Narmada and Kaveri. Each group had around 10-12 members with 3 fellows to facilitate learning with the flash cards. There were healthy discussions and debates on the safe water, Fluorosis with its issues, solutions, strategies etc. This methodology enabled learning among the participants. They raised many queries which were answered with discussion among the group.

Flash Cards Session among the Participants, 23rd June 2016

The key takeaways from the workshop

I understood that Fluorosis condition is actually reversible with early identification among children. This is done by providing safe water through appropriate measures (Surface water, Rainwater harvesting, Activated Alumina Filters, RO Water etc.) 

Along with it, the use of Amla, Tamarind, Cassia Tora, Drumstick and many more locally available plants to provide nutritious food rich in Vitamin C, Calcium and magnesium, which helps in fluoride detoxification.

The cases of Fluorosis reversal in children are well documented and seen in cases among children from Jhabua in Madhyda Pradesh and Nagoan in Assam.

Different technology for fluoride removal, its comparison and their acceptance on ground.

Kiran Kumar Sen
Biome Environmental Trust