Let's talk about the air - session for ASHA workers

On account of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, Parisar and Prayas organised an interactive session for 40 ASHA workers from the Kothrud and Shivajinagar area. The session was organised at Indradhanushya Centre for Citizenship on 4th September at 10:30 am.

The session was designed keeping in mind the profile of these health workers and emphasis was making it more interactive and building on the knowledge and experience that they have as health care workers. In fact, this group was chosen keeping in mind the potential they have in disseminating health related information to households. The intention is to engage with this group consistently to develop a better understanding of air quality and further explore if and how air quality information can be disseminated by them along with the other health messages and awareness that they deliver.

Module Resources

  1. A handmade presentation using a storytelling method called ‘Chitra Katha’ to throw light on what is air pollution, what are its health impacts and some cursory information about AQI.
  2. A pre and post session survey to gauge perception and understanding about air pollution. The results from the survey can be found here.
  3. An interactive card game to understand sources and solutions to air pollution. 

The chitra katha can be easily understood as the handmade version of our modern day presentations. However, the impact of this method was found to be much more engaging and precise in bringing out certain realisations about air pollution and its health impacts. This method allows the presenter to weave a story around the issue, introduce linkages systematically without burdening the audience with too much information at a time and allowing greater clarity of concepts. This of course depends also on the way the story is presented and Dr Ritu Parchure and her team at Prayas made sure that there was a clear flow of information and clear takeaways from the presentation.

With the help of Chitra Katha scenes, Dr Ritu Parchure first started with the health impact of air pollution. The strategy, however, was to first build on what they already knew about health disorders and those that they dealt with regularly in their work. She then proceeded to dive deeper into the linkage between air pollution and these disorders, pictorially showing the disease burden due to air pollution.

Further, the question of what exactly is air pollution was tackled, and a little more time was spent on understanding particulate matter pollution. A representation of the entire body and the incidence of diseases in its different parts made it clear that air pollution affected many organs than is generally perceived to be the case.

Towards the end, Dr Ritu touched upon the question of how one knows whether the air is polluted and the extent of it. Introducing the concept of the air quality index in a very simple manner, she went on to highlight that the risk of disease is not linearly correlated to the AQI, and that once air quality crosses a certain safe threshold, the risk increases considerably even at moderate levels of air pollution.

The session was followed by an interactive card game to understand more about the causes of and solutions to air pollution. The set of cards is a mix of causes and solutions which can be identified as real/ effective and fake/ ineffective. In the first round, each woman was given a card which had a picture of an activity that caused air pollution and some which weren’t. We then asked the women to make two groups depending on whether they felt that their card was a real or a fake cause. Once in groups, each one was asked to say why they felt the way they did. This activity allowed them to ideate on their own and come up with the real causes, clarifying any doubts in the process and ensuring better retention. Same process was repeated for the solutions, and this was quite interesting because the cards had certain pictures which had solutions like smog towers, information boards and so on. The solutions round yielded a good discussion amongst the women, clearly bringing out linkages between sustainable transport, waste management and also throwing light on how to gauge effectiveness of so-called solutions.