Low Cost Communication Aids: Effective Means for Communicating Hill Women about Indoor Air Pollution

By Yadav, Kiran; Bhardwaj, Neelam | Journal of Development Communication, December 2010 | Go to article overview

Low Cost Communication Aids: Effective Means for Communicating Hill Women about Indoor Air Pollution


Yadav, Kiran, Bhardwaj, Neelam, Journal of Development Communication


In the Indian Himalayas a pair of bullock works 1064 hours, a man 1212 hours and a woman works 3485 hours in a year on one hectare farm, a figure that illustrates women's significant contribution to agricultural production. Women in hills are actively engaged in all the activities right from the house to the fields. Women wake up early in the morning and go to the field or forest for the fuel wood and fodder collection. Fuel wood collection is the major time taking job of the hill women. On an average, woman spent 3-4 hours in the kitchen and 4-5 hours a day in fuel wood collection and its management. A study conducted in a Himalayan region, Chamoli district in Uttar Pradesh, revealed that each household spends between 6 - 10 hours in collecting fuel and fodder. This involves an uphill climb of five kilometers with constant danger from wild animals (CSE, 1985). These hardships result in varied health problems like backache, headache, weakness, fracture, miscarriages etc. Inside the home most of them are exposed to severe health problems caused due to indoor air pollution. World Health Organisation (1991) has shown significantly high levels of toxic gas in blood of women cooking with biomass fuel. Kitchen in the most rural homes were poorly ventilated. Indoor air pollution generates toxic substances that have detrimental effects on women's reproductive health. Since it is the women who generally cook, their exposure to indoor air pollution is much higher than men. Young children are often carried on their mother's back while she is cooking; therefore, children from infancy spend many hours breathing in smoke.

Although the women are widely exposed to indoor air pollution while cooking but they lack awareness about adverse effects to their health. This low level of awareness can have serious consequences especially for young girls who, gradually mature as women. The awareness and knowledge among rural women can be generated through communication interventions. For generations rural people are living in complete isolation without much access to modern means of communication. Women in hills and forest relied on the spoken words and traditional means of communication. This is because of their restricted mobility outside the home, lack of education and in most of the cases men's control over information and media. Until now, mass media have served largely as vehicles for top-down persuasion or as channels to convey information from authorities to the people. So, where there is lack of even basic amenities, mass communication is not as effective as it is in developed countries. Looking into the intensity of problem related to ill effects caused by indoor air pollution on hill women's' health, the need to educate hill women regarding the health hazards through communication intervention in an intelligent and compatible manner was realised.

Objectives of the Study

Looking into the grey areas of health hazards caused to women due to indoor air pollution the need for educating them was felt. Therefore, the study was designed to create awareness among rural women regarding indoor air pollution and associated health hazards. The study was planned with following objectives:

1. To study the socio-personal and communication characteristics of hill women.

2. To design and develop low cost communication aids on indoor air pollution and associated health hazards.

3. To find out effect of low cost communication aids in terms of gain in knowledge among hill women regarding indoor air pollution and associated health hazards.

4. To find out relationship between gain in knowledge and selected socio-personal and communication characteristics.

Methodology

The methodology used was designed to be a judicious mix of qualitative and quantitative techniques. It was felt that this mix would enable cross verification of information at various stages.

Sampling: The present study was conducted in Uttarakhand which is the 27th state of union of India. …

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