sherilee harper

EcoHealth Research with Indigenous Communities

Rebecca’s Fieldwork in Peru

Written by Rebecca Wolff

In September, I returned from a great 2 weeks conducting my 4th year research project on water security in Shawi communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Specifically, my research focuses on learning about Shawi cosmology and beliefs related to water, as well as understanding what community members perceive to be the causes of diarrhea, a common symptom of waterborne illness. I visited the incredibly beautiful IHACC communities of the Puerto Porvenir and Nuevo Progresso, where I spent my free time enjoying the incredible views and searching for papayas and coconuts.

With help from my Shawi to Spanish translator Guillermo, we conducted interviews in the Shawi language with community key informants (traditional healers and health post technicians), as well as parents with children under the age of 10. As most community members drink Masato (a beverage made of fermented cassava) instead of water, part of the interview focused on understanding what water is used for and if it is consumed directly.

The interviews went really well! Community members were open and receptive to sharing their cultures and beliefs. Several community members also provided insightful feedback on how to disseminate future results. To thank the community for their participation, we prepared a communal breakfast and it was a great opportunity to spend time with community members outside of the interviews.

After meetings with the IHACC Peru team, I plan to use my results to assist the IHACC Peru team in designing interventions related to water security. As well, my qualitative research will be incorporated with future quantitative data investigating water quality in both Shawi communities.

A big thank you to the full IHACC team, in both Canada and Peru, for supporting my dream to do research in the Amazon. A special thank you to Alejandra Bussalleu, who helped in designing this project and providing preliminary data, and to Nancy Sullcapuma for accompanying me to the field!

Photos by Rebecca Wolff (with permission from community members to use the photos)

 

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