Sean Murphy, who earned his BS from the SUNY ESF ERE department, was the recipient of a Dow Sustainability Fellowship to work on alleviating health problems in Indian slums. Here is the beginning of one report by Sean, with a link to a blog site where you can read more …

“There is a never ending chatter of honks, horns, and beeps from vehicles declaring urgency or simply exchanging pleasantries as my teammates and I are shuttled through busy downtown streets, linked between daily meetings or chauffeured to a magnificent landmark in one of India’s iconic three-wheeled automatic rickshaws. Apprehensive from the overcrowded streets filled with impatient motorists and doubtful of the city’s traffic laws, I lean forward to study the world as it passes and am reminded there is method in the madness. There are children playing cricket in an open lot, merchants sprawled over the sidewalks selling art, clothing, and jewelry, and vendors waiting on corners with panipuri (fried bread filled with flavored water), pav bhaji (vegetable curry), ganne ka ras (sugarcane juice) and other wonderfully aromatic snacks. Homes and shops wedged one on top of another, built of crude materials and standing awry like that of Seussian architecture, colonize much of the valued land. The skyline is sown with corporate and residential high-rises, though many are delayed in construction, windowless, and awaiting occupation.

Indian megacities face several unique challenges in providing even basic needs and services, notably housing, water, and waste management, for one of the largest and most dense populations in the world. Recently launched in 2014, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) is a government campaign and nationwide call to action for a cleaner, healthier, and safer India. The program’s goals are to improve solid waste management through proper disposal, reuse, and recycling, eliminate open defecation through construction of sanitation facilities, and generate public awareness through health education across all twenty-nine states. Achieving these ambitions will be complicated in an urban environment where core problems are magnified in scale, and particularly daunting in Mumbai, where half of the city’s population is estimated to live in slums.”

Read more at Slumdog Engineer.

Sean has completed his assignment, and is now working for the US Indian Health Service, working with Native American communities in South Dakota as they design technical and financial solutions to problems related to water and sanitation.