CINQ Blog #2

Case Study 1 – Dangerous Water Pathogens in Lesotho 

Step one: 

Facts of the case 

  • Goal is to test water for disease causing pathogens in Lesotho, Africa. 
  • Specific pathogen only found in this one place – no where else to do it
  • Communities only contribution is leading to water source
  • 11  researchers, 10 days


Step two and three: 

Stakeholders and Motivations 

  1. You and research team- 11 people. Motivations: To benefit from publication, professional clout, to further science 
  2. The community members. Motivations: May be harmed by bacteria, may benefit from the results of this research in the future
  3. The community members who help you. Motivations: reward of some kind, possible employment opportunities, social rise from working with foreigners 
  4. Anyone who reads the report. Motivations: Learn, profit of implementing a solution
  5. The University. Motivations: Make connections in other countries, further science, gain clout in academia from publications. 
  6.   Government of Lesotho. Motivations: possibly gain clean water, help their citizens


 Step Four 

Ethical Question: Should people be compensated for their time and resources? Is it ethical to conduct this study from a human standpoint? Is it ethical at all?

Is this research ethical at all? Yes, this research is ethical. From our class discussion no arguments were made for the research being unethical. The most damage it might do it lead people to worry over their water sources more than previously. Additionally, from a human standpoint this study is ethical.

The results of the study have the potential to help those involved or at the very least spread more knowledge about the pathogen in the water source. If the communities resources are depleted from the work being doing yes they should be compensated but that is not a foreseen effect of the study. As to should people be paid, we will get into that in further steps…

Alternative solutions

1) Give conclusions and results for free for the community members and relevant government departments, insure understanding

2)      Don’t pay them, faith based 

3)      Reimburse them for gas or only resources you use, no tip

4)     Get approval from the water ministry 

5) Pay everyone you encounter a tip 

6) Incentivize people to help with a low cost good like coke but not monetary payment 

Or any combination of above options.


Step Five : 

Previous cases and personal experience 

Past case from the Ebola team. Their research  did not pay anyone except for reimbursements. They also made sure anyone involved knew that. They introduced themselves and explained fully what they needed before asking for assistance. In this way they weren’t letting people agree to something thinking they might be paid. 

Personal experience: Paying people tends to get you the most reliable and useful assistance, however, when traveling you shouldn’t be expected to tip everyone you encounter just because you come from a wealthier country.


Step six: 

Best Course of Action 

My team decided that the best course of action is to go through all the proper channels but not pay any community members for their help with directions.

We would get a letter from the Ministry of Water Resources and come prepared with maps and areal photos of the place. However, we don’t feel that paying community members for this work is the best course of action.

Offering to pay for knowledge that everyone has and some might give for free puts people who need or want the money in a situation where they need to be the first to please you and disadvantages those you aren’t aware of the opportunity. In a very poor area this might cause resentment among citizens and also put you and your team in an awkward place.

The results of any study should be explained to all relevant parties in Lesotho and this will be free.


Step seven: 

Implications of our Best Course of Action 

The worst case scenario is that nobody is willing to help us. In that case we have listed other possible scenarios that include offering a good in return or tipping.

Best case, the research can be pulled off without wasting resources and keeping strong connections with the community.

The results of the study will be made free to the community and the government so they will be informed about their water sources. The information is also published so there is the possibility that a solution to the problem can be found and implemented.

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