Sunday, November 1, 2009

Multiple chemical requirement, operation requires a huge resource and technological training.

Multiple chemical requirement, operation requires a huge resource and technological training.
High investment, high running cost,a high technical operation and maintenance make it impossible to reach arsenic free water for the mass population like in Bangladesh.
Most disturbing object is that these people who are using the sand filter never warned by the NGOs that the same poisonous water is pouring through their wells via filter.
The research, seminars, workshops, analysis of problems, prioritizing and decision-making for mitigation of the arsenic problem - are all taking place far away from the affected communities. The village people, the primary stakeholders, are not even aware of the disaster.
Though lots of funds have been made available so far by different aid agencies including World Bank, SDC, Danida, AusAID, DFID, etc. and a significant number of projects in the name of arsenic mitigation are also being implemented both by the government and non-governmental agencies throughout the country, how far have we been able to mitigate the sufferings of the arsenic affected people?
The development partners have pumped millions of dollars into various mitigation programmes ever since dangerous level of poison in underground water was detected way back in 1993. More funds are reported to be pouring in but the question is are they reaching the people who have been most affected by this rapidly increasing menace around the country? Several NGOs have been given authority through the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), to offer low cost services to prevent diseases caused by arsenic poisoning from spreading. One such project for the 'poorest of the poor requires a group of fifty to donate as much as Tk. 4,500 in advance to receive a safe tubewell. But the government seems to have forgotten that there are many 'poorest of the poor' who would not be able to gather any money, least of all the required amount.
Arsenic mitigation activities by international organizations and major NGOs are generally undertaken jointly with a local NGO active in one particular village. The local NGO encourages villagers to form a committee so that the committee may act as the principal body to organize mitigation work.
It needs no telling that everybody moving in the donor-development circuit seems to have been jumping on the arsenic bandwagon ever since the problem surfaced but precious little have resulted as far as mitigation is concerned. This paper has been hammering for serious coordinated action between the government and 'development partners', to help the vulnerable areas revert to alternative sources of reasonably safe water and to attend to the health needs of the already affected people. But so far we have seen only a proliferation of NGOs, assorted consultants, bottled water and filter sellers and what not, catching larks, so to say, while the poisoning continues.
According to AAN experience, members of such a committee are decided among the village leaders. One of the main functions of the committee is to collect funds to operate and maintain a newly installed option of alternative source of safe water. The running of the fund including the management of money is under the supervision of the local NGO during the initial stages. The committee needs some experience to become an independent running organization.
In practice, it is seen that only the rich becomes the member. In most cases 10 members selected from their family or friends and others are not allowed to collect water. We found in Fursa, Kanaipur Union, Village Tambulkhana dug wells and a deep tube well are constructed by SIDA/BRDB, although tube wells contain arsenic far below Bangladesh standard. The poor is unable to pay Tk. 3000-5000.In Noakhali we also found deep tube wells are sunk inside the house who pays Tk. 5000. Many complains that they do not use the water because it is saline and tastes after cow dung!
Government Policy is going to Fail
Government Project - GOB-4 project
4,700 deep tubewells in upazials,
1010 deep (Tara),
2342 tubewells, 1986 Tara,
305 PSF (Pond Sand Filter),
1085 ring wells,
600 wells/reestablishing water sources and to supply water through pipeline in 92 villages are underway.
Our study shows that almost all deep tube wells in neighbouring Faridpur district are arsenic contaminated. Geological deposition is also almost the same.
Our experience reveals that most of the deep tube wells are arsenic contaminated. Government and others want to sink deep tube wells without taking care of contaminating deep aquifers. But sinking deep wells are more profitable! Our work in Faridpur show that it is possble to find arsenic free water at shallow depths.At this place an expensive deep tubewell was set by DPHE/NGO about a year ago. Nobody uses this well because of saline and iron rich water.Our shallow well pours water far below Bangladesh Stanard (arsenic).
"Priority would be given to surface water options over groundwater sources. The options in order of priority include dug well, pond sand filter, rain water harvesting, deep hand-tubewells, arsenic removal by using chemicals and pipe water supply system,"
Most of the deep tube wells are in the Coastal Areas of Bangladesh, where shallow aquifers are separated by thick layers of clay sediments. But Holocene sedimentary stratigraphy of rest of Bangladesh is completely dfferent. Use of deep tubewell has been suggested as a safe option in the face of arsenic contamination of groundwater in the country. The suggestion was made in a preliminary report after a study in Jhenidah, Chuadanga and Jessore districts, conducted jointly by local and foreign experts. The report was presented at a

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