Understanding social acceptability of arsenic-safe technologies in rural Bangladesh: a user-oriented analysis

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Contamination of shallow tube well drinking water by naturally occurring arsenic is a severe societal and human health challenge in Bangladesh. Multiple technological interventions seeking to ameliorate the problem face hurdles in securing social acceptance, i.e. the willingness of users to receive and use a technology. While most papers focus on expert understanding of social acceptability, this paper analyzes how users themselves understand the factors shaping the social acceptability of safe drinking water options in rural Bangladesh. We then deploy such understanding to comparatively assess which factors users see as most important in securing social acceptance for three safe drinking water options in rural Bangladesh: the arsenic removal household (Sono) filter; the deep tube well; and an improved dug well. We draw on focus groups and semi-structured interviews with technology users in six villages across three districts to analyze how users assess the social acceptability of specific arsenic-safe technologies. Our findings highlight that factors such as availability, affordability and compatibility with existing water use practices, as understood by users, are key to securing users' acceptance of a specific arsenic-safe option. In concluding, we point to a future research agenda to analyze user-oriented social acceptability of arsenic-safe technologies in developing country contexts.

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