Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine   Official publication of Indian Association of  0ccupational  Health  
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 84-90

Health of farming communities prior to modification of the occupational environment through a watershed development project in Kolar, India

1 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland; University of Basel, P.O. Box, CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland; Azim Premji University, PES Campus, Hosur Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel; University of Basel, P.O. Box, CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Adithya Pradyumna
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_270_20

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Background: Watershed development (WSD) projects, aimed primarily at enhancing soil and water conservation and supporting livelihoods in semi-arid areas, have the potential to impact health by modifying the occupational and household environments in agrarian communities. To identify and address potential health concerns arising from a planned WSD project in Kolar district, India, a health impact assessment (HIA) was conducted. This necessitated understanding the health status and concerns in the project villages. Objective: To characterize the health of farmers and their household members in close proximity of the planned WSD project. Methods: We carried out a cross-sectional survey between April and July 2019. The study comprised: (i) a household survey covering the four project villages and two comparison villages (e.g. socio-demographic characteristics, occurrence of vector-borne diseases (VBDs), access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and utilization of healthcare); and (ii) an anthropometric survey for children under the age of 5 years in the four project villages and four comparison villages. Results: Respondents (n = 333) reported household-level occurrences of VBDs (chikungunya, 3.3%; and dengue, 1.5%), consuming unsafe water (54.5%) and frequent pesticide application in fields (26.7%). The prevalence of child underweight was 23.8%. Conclusions: VBDs, poor water quality and child undernutrition were found to be important local health concerns, amenable for preventive and promotive measures through the planned WSD project. Occupational environments in agricultural settings affect the workers and their households, and comprehensive projects such as WSD can seize the opportunity for improving health of farming and other rural households.


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