The Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network had a five day workshop on Fluoride and Fluorosis near Dahod, Gujarat. Sunder of INREM Foundation, who facilitates the FKAN, thought it would be a good idea for us to mix the workshop with some field testing around Jhabua, a tribal district in Madhya Pradesh. INREM Foundation has been working there for several years educating people about Fluorosis and facilitating interventions like filters, nutrition supplements, nutrition gardens, and a whole lot of other things. Especially touching, though hopeful, was the story of Neelesh, a child with Fluorosis, with a near miraculous improvement.
We did get to meet Neelesh at his school in Jashoda Khumji village at Jhabua during the course of our field testing. We took samples from handpumps, open wells, defluoridation plants and talabs. Rather shockingly, we found that defluoridation plants did not seem to be working in most cases. A solar defluoridation plant at a school where children regularly drank from had Fluoride in excess of 8 ppm. Far better were simple and inexpensive activated alumina filters supplied by INREM. All of them had removed Fluoride to less that 0.5 ppm.
Obviously, this being our first field test at scale, we learned a few valuable lessons. The test itself looks good. However there is a lot of work that needs to be done around the kit and the testing experience, especially on the field, where one would be hard pressed to even find a reasonably flat surface to place the phone on.
This video shows a typical test where we tested the water of an open dug well. Ramsoor, a tribal farmer, talks about farming, mahua, and drinking water in his village.