Self-supporting community- based mitigation program that provides arsenic safe water using modified dugwells along with public education on water related health effects.
Project Well, PW, (2001) has developed a self-supporting community-based mitigation program to provide arsenic safe water to the villagers of the districts of N 24 Parganas of West Bengal, India. There are 22 blocks in this district. PW has been operating in the parts of the blocks namely, Deganga and Habra, where the population drinking arsenic contaminated water >50µg/L are 87,334 and 66,685 respectively, and drinking >10 µg/L are 133460 and 106374 respectively (In India the drinking water standard for arsenic, according to the Bureau of Indian Standard, is 10µg/L). Experts from various disciplines are advisors of this program. The primary objective of Project Well is to encourage the use of modified conventional dugwell through small community-based groups, comprising 10-20 families, to manage the new source of arsenic safe water and make it sustainable.The program began with the first dugwell in 2001. The outcome of the one-year research program was published in 2003 (Ref: Smith, M. M., T. Hore, et al. "A dugwell program to provide arsenic-safe water in West Bengal, India: preliminary results." J Environ Sci Health Part A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng 38(1): 289-99, see pdf file below). In total, 45 dugwells were constructed in different villages. The map of the target area with the location of the dugwells is available at http://projectwellusa.org/maps/maps.htm. The villages under the Kolsur panchayat have been reported to be severely affected, with 75% of their tubewells contaminated.. In the next two years forty dugwells will be introduced in the Gaighata block where the number of people drinking water containing arsenic >50 µg/L is estimated to be about 106,000, and those who are drinking >10 µg/L number about 155,000.
LocationWest Bengal, , India
Primary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 1,200
Estimate: Families=300; Children=384;
School Children Getting Water: 240
People Getting Sanitation: 0
People Getting Other Benefits:
Public health education on arsenic health effects and personal hygiene is given to all the dugwell beneficiaries and also to children in schools. A training program on the maintenance of the dugwells (including chlorination) is given to develop a sense of ownership and to make the program sustainable. The field workers working on the dugwell program are selected from the arsenic afflicted villages. The office of Aqua Welfare Society is located in the village and the coordinator and project manager travel from Kolkata to meet with them regularly. Trades like well-digging, pottery, and masonry, are required for the dugwell program and are benefiting from work generated by the project.
Application Type: Project Funding
Start Date: 2006-11-01
Completion Date: 2008-11-01
Modified conventional dugwells are constructed at carefully selected sites. The diameter of each dugwell is one meter and the depth is generally less than 30 feet. The design and practice of the Project Well dugwells differ from the traditional ones mainly in the following ways:1. A layer of coarse sand six inches wide envelops the outer wall of the concrete cylinder;2. The mouth of the well is covered with a nylon mosquito net and a tin sheet that is padlocked;3. Water is extracted using hand pumps to reduce potential bacterial contamination;4. Flexible pipes that float with the fluctuating water table are installed. 5. The dugwells are disinfected once a month with sodium hypochlorite solution containing 5% chlorine, following USEPA guidelines.The water in these shallow dugwells originates from rainwater or surface water from the surrounding water bodies that have low arsenic concentrations.
Phases are defined by the construction of dugwells and they are as follows: Phase 7: 2007 - construction of twenty dugwells
Phase 8: 2008 - construction of twenty dugwells
All construction will be executed in summer.
Six months before the construction of the dugwells, the groundwork is launched by the grassroots field workers, starting with a meeting with members of the local government bodies such as the gram panchayat, followed by several meetings with the villagers, held at prospective dugwell sites. The members of Project Well and the local NGO are also present at the meetings held at the local gram panchayat, or GP. The meeting is held primarily to notify the government about the program before the field workers enter the village and hold meetings with the villagers at the ?para? (a cluster of houses) level. Door-to-door campaigning is carried out, during which field workers cover the methods of the program and distribute information sheets on the effects of arsenic poisoning. After a few meetings with the prospective beneficiaries, the communities donate sites. (The dugwell is not constructed on any government property). The sense of ownership develops from the very start by this donation of a plot of land for the dugwell that is shared by the neighbors. After approval of the selected sites by the experts, based on the local geology and existence of arsenic contaminated tubewells, the community-based groups are formed.The family that donates the land becomes the chief caretaker. To maintain the well, training is given to an educated person of the community who is capable of measuring the volume of water in the well, from which the dose of disinfectant is determined. A user-friendly chart is given as a guide for the dose of disinfectant to be applied. In the areas where it is hard to find literate persons, a field worker chlorinates the water. Every month Rs. 10/- (25 U.S. cents) is collected from the beneficiary families for the maintenance of the well. The maintenance includes purchase of the disinfectant, repairing any wear and tear of the well, and measurement of arsenic once a year. The sense of ownership and investment develops amongst the users as they pay to obtain arsenic safe water.
Educational institutions, government offices (GP's), clubs and women's organizations are also included in the public health education. 90% of the funds are disbursed in the villages. Local raw materials, skilled dugwell diggers and laborers construct the dugwells. Field workers, male and female, with a minimum of a secondary-level education are selected from the arsenic prone villages. There is no discrimination based on religion, political background or economic status. The field workers are given training on the following: 1.arsenic in drinking water and its health effects; 2. bacteria present in food and water and its health effects; 3. the need for chlorination of water; 4. good personal hygiene practices; 5. public relations and how to communicate with the villagers; 6. monthly visits to the villagers and updating the registers on any complaints or comments from the beneficiaries; 7. organizing and holding awareness meetings. The field workers constantly interact with the villagers, whose comments are noted down and discussed at community meetings, to solve any issues as early as possible.
Research and Development is ongoing on the dugwells in which water contains organic odor and high fecal coliform, occurring mainly when the dugwell is fairly new. The water is treated with lime and, in cases of high fecal coliform levels, is also treated regularly with theoline, the disinfectant that contains 5% chlorine. Villagers are advised not to use the water for a few days during the period of shock treatment. Some villagers complain about the slight odor of chlorine, resulting in a new program introduced in July 2006 to assess the efficacy of locally available cheap domestic filters that would remove the unwanted smell. The analysis of the results is ongoing. Prior to the testing of water from twenty different sources, a pilot study of the three different types (steel body, plastic and earthen) of filters was done by four field workers. The outcome was that the earthen filter(value Rs.80/- or $2) was the best for it is cheap and affordable by the majority of the villagers and also efficient at keeping the water cool, that is appreciated in the hot weather prevalent almost whole year.
Water analysis to measure the concentration of arsenic levels and total and fecal bacteria of all functional dugwells is routinely done after construction. Also, every summer when the water levels drop, arsenic levels are measured. Analysis of four years of observations has been completed. An article discussing the results will be published in an international journal in January 2007.
Project Well keeps a database evaluating the use of the dugwells (see attached newsletter_2005). Consumers are visited monthly by the grassroots level field workers and asked about outbreaks of diarrhea and dysentery among users of each dugwell. In the winters of 2004 and 2005, door-to-door village surveys were carried out to create the database of the existing dugwells and observation of any outbreaks. There have been no such outbreaks linked to any particular dugwell water use over a period of four years.
For 40 dugwells USD1360
Maintenance Cost: $34
Prior art before metrics
Construction of 40 new dugwells:13333; Water analysis:1867; Transport:1067;Training, Awareness and Follow-Up:11500; Office expenses:2320. Total:30087
Co Funding Amount: $7,000
3000 by Private donors and 4000 proposed to UNICEF for intensifying awareness programs.
Community Contribution Amount:
Community contributes the land to construct the dugwell and Rs.10/- (25 cents) per month for maintenance of the dugwell.
Fund Requested: $30,000
Implementing Organization: Aqua Welfare Society, West Bengal, India
Members of Project Well, CA, USA and Aqua Welfare Society, West Bengal, India
All the members are in honorary positions and from various disciplines, as advisors to the dugwell program. The key founding members are:
1. Dr. Meera M Hira Smith, PhD (Geography), President and Director of Project Well, California, USA and researcher at the School of Public Health, Arsenic Health Effects Research Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
2. Dr. Timir Hore, Ph.D (Hydro-geology), Director of Project Well, New Jersey, USA. 3. Mr. Protap Chakraverti, (Geology) advisor of Project Well and Ex-director of Geological Survey of India, Kolkata.
4. Prof. Allan H Smith, (Epidemiology), Treasurer and Director of Project Well and Professor and Principal Investigator of Health Effect Studies on Arsenic in School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.
The other members and advisors of Project Well are:
1. Ms. Cynthia Green (Environmental Engineer) Secretary of Project Well and masters candidate in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, University of Texas.
2. Ms. Jane Liaw, MPH, University of California, Berkeley, USA. Ms. Lisa Booker, Oakland, California, USA.
3. Prof. Richard Wilson, PhD, Physics, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA.
Honorary Members of Aqua Welfare Society, Kolkata, India are:
1. Mr. Amal Ghosh, (Lawyer), President.
2. Mr. Uday Mukherjee, (Geology), Secretary.
3. Ms. Alpana Hira-Davidson, (Geography, Lecturer) Treasurer.
Other members are:
4. Mr. Protap Chakraverti (Geology) Board member
5. Dr. Xavier Savarimuthu, PhD. (Environmental Science) Board member
6. Mr. Somendranath Banerjee (Geology) Board member
7. Mr. Punurdan Dutta (Social Worker) Board member
8. Mrs. Rajashree Hira, General member
9. Ms. Monimala Mishra, MSc. (Teacher) General member
1. The Project Manager (2006): Mr. Suprio Das, Chartered Engineer.
2. Project Coordinator and Accounts Assistant: Mr. Sekhar Pal, M.Com.
Field Workers in the village office are:
3. Field Supervisor: Mr. Dennis Baroi
4. Mrs. Farida Bibi
5. Mr. Abhijit Karmakar
6. To recruit two more field workers, if funded, who will be selected from the Gaighata Block and will be given training to oversee 40 dugwells.