It is often poor people who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental degradation.
This environmental injustice is made worse by the lack of openly available tools for scientific environmental monitoring. Understanding and monitoring environmental quality is central to not only improving it but in empowering people to demand appropriate action from their political representatives.
In northern Thailand, we collaborated with Chiang Mai University in a research thesis on water quality along the urban streams. Communities that were interviewed saw the value in knowing why the water was dirty, so we found a source for affordable water quality test strips for basic parameters to allow communities to monitor their water quality.
In the community of Ha Tanwa, Chiang Mai, the residents now use these test strips to take monthly readings from the nearby Mae Kha canal and their household water treatment system, providing them with some data records for reference in future water quality measures.
In the future we want to further develop access to scientific environmental monitoring tools for low-income communities. We are currently working towards developing affordable, user-friendly methods to measure key parameters pertaining to air and water quality, and water and electricity use.