Self-supporting community- based mitigation program that provides arsenic safe water using modified dugwells along with public education on water related health effects.
Millions of people are exposed to arsenic in drinking water in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam and West Bengal in India and in the neighboring countries of which Bangladesh is worst affected. Arsenic is an invisible metalloid that occurs naturally, in a dissolved state, in the crystal clear tube well water consumed by the people of this region. In adults, ingestion of arsenic causes cancers of the lung, bladder and skin, as well as non-cancer cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, neurological, and dermal effects. It has been estimated that in 9 out of 18 districts of West Bengal, more than six million are drinking contaminated water. Poject Well (2001) has developed a self-supporting community based mitigation program to provide arsenic safe drinking water. There are 22 blocks in the district of North 24 Parganas. PW has been operating in the parts of the blocks—namely, Gaighata, Deganga and Habra 1. In 2007 construction of dugwells has been introduced in the Gaighata block where deaths due to arsenic poisoning have been reported over the past decade.
The primary objective of Project Well is to establish and encourage community-based-groups to manage arsenic free water sources and make them sustainable.
Project Well has constructed 92 dugwells and has been monitoring the project, through monthly surveillance, on the efficient use of the dug wells. Emphasis is being given to the geology in the arsenic contaminated area where construction of deep dugwells, manually, is difficult. Every year the design is being improved based on consumer reports. In 2007 twenty dugwells were funded by Blue Planet Run and four were funded by private donors. Out of the 24 dugwells one dugwell, identification number PW65RMN1, will be officially closed due to a fowl smell from the water. It is speculated that historically there was a cowshed in the area that was unknown to the people living there at present. And two dugwells (PW67DRM1 and PW70JLS3) are not being used due to high content of iron. The smell of iron can be removed by using charcoal filter fitted inside earthen pots (‘mawtka’ filter) that is yet to be introduced in the community. According to the registers there are 567 people using water from 21 dugwells. BUT the status of dugwell report of June 2008 shows 1038 consumers. There is an increase of 471 people over the period of six months. The target was 720 people (24 dugwells). The registers are being appended. Due to more demand from the villagers, twenty more dugwells have been constructed in the same areas in 2008 and five of them are already being used after chlorination and ten are being completed. There was a delay due to cancellation of eight sites and also panchayat election. The sites were cancelled because arsenic in the nearby tube wells were found to contain arsenic concentration lower than 50 PPB.
In 2008 slight alteration has been made to the design of the dug well in order to increase the depth. It has been a great success for in the driest month of the year, May, there is ample amount of clean water and it is being used by 75 people. Work of the field workers are going on. The new users of these 20 dugwells are being trained on maintenance of the dugwells. No report of diarrheal disease have been received from the consumers; on the contrary there are reports on improvement of health and demand of dugwells in some areas have increased.
Registers of the consumers of Gaighata phase 2 (2008) project are being created and will be available later. The arsenic and bacterial analysis of the new dugwells are also ongoing. Reports will be available on the web by September 2008. In 2003 and 2007 two articles have been published in the international journal. The latest one is entitled "Arsenic Concentrations and Bacterial Contamination in a Pilot Shallow Dugwell Program in West Bengal, India" in Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A Toxic /Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering (January 2007, Vol.42, No.1) by M Hira-Smith, Yuan Y, Xavier Savarimuthu¬, Jane Liaw, Alpana Hira, Cynthia Green, Timir Hore, Protap Chakraborty, von Ehrenstein OS, Allan H Smith.
LocationWest Bengal, Eastern, India
Primary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 750
The demographic data will be entered after registers are created sometimes by November 2009. The register of 2008 is being created and the data, from the registers created of the 21 dugwells constructed in 2007, is:-
child <5: 21
The consumer status report of June 2008 of these 21 dugwells shows 1038 and 215 families. Over one year period the number has increased by 471.
School Children Getting Water: 0
People Getting Sanitation: 0
People Getting Other Benefits: 758
All the villagers are given knowledge on effects of drinking arsenic contaminated water and the benefits of drinking arsenic safe water and the dugwell water that is treated with chlorine as done in the metropolitan water supply. They are also given knowledge on practice of proper personal hygiene to prevent spread of mainly water and food borne diseases. There are eight persons employed in this program.
Start Date: 2009-01-01
Completion Date: 2009-12-31
Conventional dugwells with a modified design to reduce potential bacterial contamination are constructed in carefully selected sites. The shallow dugwells are packed with coarse sand around the annular space to enhance ground water storage that also acts as a filter to some extent. The dugwells are fed by rain water and are therefore not contaminated with arsenic. Wells are also protected from external contamination by a net cover and a tin roof. Water is withdrawn by traditional hand- pumps. (For pics, published reports and newsletter please access www.projectwellusa.org). The water in these shallow dugwells is rainwater or surface water from the surrounding water bodies that contain arsenic within the permissible limit.
In addition to the same design to increase the depth of dugwells in some areas where availability of water is scarce in summer, a new design has been experimented that turned out to be a breakthrough design. It is a dug-cum-tube well (PW74GDP1). A 12” diameter PVC pipe is used to penetrate the thick layer of very fine sand below a depth of 11 feet where due to sand boiling manual digging became impossible. This 10 feet long PVC pipe has increased the depth to 21 feet below ground level. Water is available in abundance in the summer month of May. In 2009 there is plan to implement 25 dugwells. Ten will be of the new design, dug-cum-tube well, and 15 will be dugwell with one 8 feet long pipe at the bottom of each well. To find suitable sites for the two different types of dugwells the selection of sites will be crucial and will be started early.
Yes, over a period of one year.
In 2007 and 2008 forty four dugwells have been constructed in the Gaighata block. Formal meetings with the local government bodies like the Block Development office and the gram panchayats are not needed to construct in 2009. The demand of more dugwells is high in many adjacent villages (refer to videos VDPW1, VDPW2 that will be available shortly). Last year 18 village meetings were held before construction. Similar village meetings will be held at the proposed villages that will be organized by the experienced field workers. Door-to-door campaigning is no longer needed because the report of dugwell water has spread through people and the ex-public health officer of Gaighata had organized a health fair where dugwell water was one of the main topics of discussion. 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 donating a plot of land for the community. 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. That is comprised of people who would use the dugwell water. The family that donates the land becomes the chief caretaker. To maintain the well, training is given to a 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 a literate person, a field worker chlorinates the water on their behalf. Every month Rs. 10/- (25 U.S. cents) is meant to be 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.
Project Well keeps a database evaluating the use of the dugwells with the help of a map and excel file that relates the two components: DW identifying number and the number of users. The excel file also contains the quality of water. Apart from this the field workers record notes of all the technical wear and tear that are fixed by the consumers if there is enough amount of collected funds otherwise the cost is subsidized from the Project fund. Consumers are visited monthly during the first year and quarterly later, by the grass root level field workers and asked about outbreaks of diarrhea and dysentery among users of each dugwell. Once a year a senior member visits some of the dugwells selected at random from the map to cross check the data produced by the field workers.
Research and Development on the dugwells is ongoing. This year the new dug-cum-tube well will be under observation for the quality and volume of water throughout the year. There are plans to select a few dugwells constructed since 2002 and measure their bacterial counts (total coliform and fecal coliform) and also manganese concentration. Arsenic concentration is measured routinely once a year of all the dugwells, new and old. In addition there is a plan to see arsenic concentration of a few dugwells on a quarterly basis to study the seasonal variation if any.
Maintenance Cost: $38
Prior art before metrics
CONSTRUCTION COST 14241
INITIAL WATER ANALYSIS 1843
Other contingencies (see detail) 2000
Co Funding Amount: $5,266
Community Contribution Amount: $0
Properties to construct the dugwell and fresh cooked meals for the team of diggers and field workers on the days of construction. The communities contribute for the maintenance of the dugwells that include chlorination and repair of normal wear and tear. Monthly contribution initially is Rs.10 (25 cents) per family.
Fund Requested: $21,063
Implementing Organization: Project Well and Aqua Welfare Society
All the members are in honorary position and they are from various disciplines. The key founding members are Dr. Meera M Hira Smith, PhD (Geography), Treasurer and Director of Project Well, California, USA and researcher in the School of Public Health, Arsenic Health Effects Research Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Timir Hore, Ph.D (Hydro-geology), Technical advisor of Project Well, New Jersey, USA. Mr. Protap Chakraverti, (Geology) advisor of Project Well and Ex-director of Geological Survey of India, Kolkata and Prof. Allan H Smith, (Epidemiology), President 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 Ms. Cynthia Green (Environmental Engineer) Secretary of Project Well (Environmental and Water Resources Engineering), Ms. Jane Liaw, MPH, University of California, Berkeley, USA. Ms. Lisa Booker, Oakland, California, USA. *Prof. Richard Wilson, PhD, Physics, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA.
Honorary Members of Aqua Welfare Society, Kolkata, India are Mr. Amal Ghosh, (Lawyer), President. Mr. Uday Mukherjee, (Geology), Secretary. Ms. Alpana Hira-Davidson, MSc, Treasurer. Other members are Mr. Protap Chakraverti, Geology. Dr. Xavier Savarimuthu, PhD, Environmental Science. Mr. Somendranath Banerjee, Geology. Mr. Punurdan Dutta, Social Worker. Other members are Mrs. Rajashree Hira, Ms. Monimala Mishra. The Project Coordinator (2008) is Mr. Suprio Das, Chartered Electrical Engineer and the account assistant is Mr. Sekhar Pal, M.Com, 2nd year in MSW. Field Workers are Mr. Dennis Baroi, Mrs. Farida Bibi, Mr. Biswajit Karmakar, Mr. Asit Mondol and Mrs. Shilpi Poddar.