plan 224Arsenic Safe Drinking Water: Nadia - Chakdaha Set4 E (10)

Summary

Self-supporting community- based mitigation program that provides arsenic safe water using modified dugwells along with public education on water related health effects.

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Background

The primary objectives of Project Well are to provide safe water through modern, modified design dugwells, as well as establish and encourage community-based groups, CBGs, to manage these arsenic-free water sources, so that they are sustainable. Project Well also regularly educates the community on arsenic and other health issues.
Millions of people are exposed to arsenic in drinking water in West Bengal and other states in India, and in the neighboring countries, especially Bangladesh. Arsenic is a tasteless metalloid that occurs naturally, in a dissolved state, in some groundwater aquifers in this region. Because it is odorless and tasteless, the water can be heavily contaminated and yet taste fine, as does the crystal clear water from tubewells in West Bengal.
Ingestion of arsenic causes cancers of the lung, bladder, kidney, liver and skin, as well as cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, neurological, and dermal effects. Children and those exposed to arsenic in the womb can later grow up to also experience morbid health conditions and cancers caused by exposure.
It has been estimated that in 9 out of 18 districts of West Bengal, more than six million are drinking contaminated water. Project Well developed a self-supporting community-based mitigation program in 2001 to provide arsenic-safe drinking water. There are 22 blocks in the district of North 24 Parganas. PW has been operating in parts of the blocks—namely, Gaighata, Swarupnagar, Deganga and Habra 1. In 2007, dugwells were introduced to the Gaighata block, where deaths due to arsenic poisoning have been reported over the past decade.
Project Well has constructed 112 dugwells and monitors the project, through monthly surveillance, to ensure efficient use of the dug wells. Special attention is given to the geology in the arsenic contaminated area where construction of deep dugwells is manually difficult. Dugwells are sited at least 100 feet away from latrines. The dugwell design is improved every year based on consumer reports.
As we know from the surveillance program and many dugwells get dry in summer that let us to rethink the design. In 2008, slight alterations were made to the design of the dugwell to allow for construction of deeper dugwells. One deep dug-cum-bore well was constructed. It was a great success as during the driest month of the year, May, there was an ample amount of clean water that was used by 75 people. The new users of these 20 dugwells were trained to maintain the dugwells. No reports of diarrheal disease were received from the consumers; on the contrary, there were reports on improvement of health and the demand for dugwells in some areas increased.
Registers of the consumers of Gaighata phase 2 (2008) project are now available. Out of 20 dugwells three dugwells are not used at all. From 17 dugwells the total number of consumers is 497 and the number of families is 129 and the detail of three dugwells (PW#76, 77 and 92) are not available yet. The detail of the remaining 14 community based groups is: Male: 240, Female: 210, Students: 106 and children < 5 years : 28.
In 2009 twenty more dugwells have been constructed. Five dugwells are shallow and 15 are deep dugwells with the new design. The excavation was completed before the onset of the monsoon in mid June (video will be uploaded shortly) and one dugwell is being used readily which has arsenic level below 10 ppb. The attachment of the hand pump and housing of the 19 dugwells are in progress (the pictures will be uploaded shortly).
Arsenic and bacterial analysis of the new dugwells of 2008 were also conducted (Project Village Report January 2009 is available). We recently wrote and submitted an academic paper entitled “Modifications to improve water quality and increase acceptance of modern dugwells in response to the arsenic crisis in South Asia.” In this paper, we documented our continuing efforts to improve the dugwell water quality such that user acceptance will meet its potential. After receiving feedback from villagers who complained about the chlorine smell of the water from some dugwells, we reduced chlorination doses but increased frequency from once a month to once a week, and also distributed earthen body (‘mawtka’) filters for use with dugwell water. We tested 12 dugwells after the new chlorination regime had been implemented, and found no fecal coliform in any dugwells, and no total coliform in nine of the dugwells, and only low levels of total coliform in three dugwells.
Previously, in 2003, 2006 and 2007, three scientific articles were published in international journals. The article from 2007 is entitled "Arsenic Concentrations and Bacterial Contamination in a Pilot Shallow Dugwell Program in West Bengal, India" from Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A Toxic /Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering (January 2007, Vol.42, No.1) by Meera Hira-Smith, Yan Yuan, Xavier Savarimuthu, Jane Liaw, Alpana Hira, Cynthia Green, Timir Hore, Protap Chakraborty, Ondine von Ehrenstein, Allan H Smith.

Location

Chakdaha Block in Nadia district, West Bengal, India

Attachments

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Focus

Primary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education

People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 280

The demographic data will be entered after registers are created sometimes by November 2010. In 2009 twenty new dugwells have been constructed of which the masonry job is still in progress of a few. The demographic data of 2008 is given below. Out of 20 dugwells three are not used at all. From 17 dugwells the total number of consumers is 497 and number of families is 129 and the detail of three more dugwells (76, 77 and 92) are not available yet. The detail of the remaining 14 community based groups (CBGs) is:
Male: 240
Female: 210
Students: 105
children <5: 28

School Children Getting Water: 0

People Getting Sanitation: 0

People Getting Other Benefits: 289

During December 2008 to February 2009 there were 36 health meetings covering 70 community based groups. There were in total 628 attendees at these health meetings. Besides these health meetings there were village meetings held at the new sites for 2009. 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+2 (part time field assistants) persons employed in this program.

Application Type: Program Funding

Start Date: 2009-11-01

Completion Date: 2010-12-31

Technology Used:

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 groundwater storage and also act as a filter to some extent. The dugwells are fed by rainwater 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 newsletters, please visit www.projectwellusa.org). The water in these shallow dugwells is rainwater or surface water from the surrounding water bodies that contain arsenic within permissible limits.
From 2003 to 2008, due to the El Nino effect, annual rainfall decreased from 380 cm to 70 cm. To increase the depth of dugwells in some areas where availability of water is especially scarce in summer, a new design has been experimented with that has turned out to be groundbreaking. It is a dug/tubewell (PW74GDP1, http://peerwater.org/projects/72 ). 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 is impossible. This 10-foot long PVC pipe increases the dugwell depth to 21 feet below ground level. Water is now available in abundance in the summer month of May. In 2009 fifteen dugwells are of the average depth of 28 feet. In the coming year, there is plan to construct all deep dug-cum bore-wells.

Phases:

Yes, over a period of one year.

Community Organization:

In 2007 and 2008, 44 dugwells were constructed in the Gaighata block. In 2009, 20 more dugwells are constructed in Gaighata and Swarupnagar. Formal meetings with local government bodies such as Block Development office and the gram panchayats are not needed for the construction in 2010 because they were informed about the project in the past. But for new districts like Nadia, there is plan to implement new dugwells in the Chakdaha block, we have met with the government officials and more meetings will be needed. The demand for more dugwells is high mainly in Gaighata, where the population is large and people are aware of the arsenic effects, since many people have died from arsenic poisoning (refer to videos VDPW1 and VDPW2 at projectwellusa.org ). In 2008, 20 village meetings were held before construction. Similar village meetings will be held at the proposed villages and will be organized by experienced field workers. Door-to-door campaigning is no longer needed because information on dugwell water has spread through the community; additionally, the ex-public health officer of Gaighata organized a health fair at which dugwell water was one of the main topics of discussion. After a few meetings with prospective beneficiaries, the communities donate sites. (The dugwell is not constructed on any government property). A sense of ownership develops from the very start through this donation of a plot of land by the community. After approval of the selected sites by experts, based on local geology and existence of arsenic contaminated tubewells nearby, community-based groups (CBG) are formed. These groups comprise people who will be using the dugwell water. The family that donates the land becomes the chief caretaker. To maintain the well, training is given to a person in 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 areas where it is hard to find a literate person, a field worker measures the water and gives the dose for three weeks for the users to apply. The disinfectant is purchased by the CBGs and they also take care of minor repairs to any wear-and-tear of the well and the hand pump. Once a year, arsenic analysis is done by the implementer. A sense of ownership and investment develops amongst the users as they pay to obtain arsenic-safe water.

Government Interaction:

Government interaction comes only prior to start the program in a block just to inform them about out work in the areas to avoid any duplication. Sometimes the government officials, for instance, the members of the panchayet help us in selection of sites that later are approved scientifically by the experts of the partner NGO, Aqua Welfare Society.

Ancillary activities:

Project Well keeps a database evaluating the use of the dugwells with the help of a Google map and Excel file that relates the two components: Dugwell identification number and number of users. The Excel file also contains an assessment of the quality of water. In addition, the field workers record notes of all the technical wear-and-tear that are fixed by the consumers if there are enough collected funds; otherwise, the cost is subsidized from the Project Well fund. Consumers are visited by grassroots field workers monthly during the first year and quarterly later, and asked about outbreaks of diarrhea and dysentery. Once a year, a senior Project Well member visits some of the dugwells selected at random from the map to cross-check data produced by the field workers.
Research and Development on the dugwells is ongoing. This year, the newly designed deep dugwell was under observation regarding the quality and volume of water throughout the year. In the month of April the height of water was four feet excluding the ten feet in the extended pipe. In total there was 14 feet water. The bacteriogical analysis, to measure total and fecal coliforms, of 2008 are available in the pdf report of January 2009 and analysis of new dugwells of 2009 are scheduled and results will be available at the end of the year. Arsenic concentration is measured routinely once a year in all the dugwells, new and old.

Other Issues:

1. One of the issues is a matter of concern to me that is the pipeline scheme in West Bengal. The government of West Bengal has supposedly undertaken a scheme to provide pipeline water in the villages. It is crucial for us to know the plan, the map of exact location of the pipeline to avoid any duplication. It can be made available on the internet for all to refer. Last December 24th we went to visit a few dugwells PW#46 and 47 at Kamdebkathi and found that pipeline was implemented up to the dugwell PW 47 (Sukanto Mondol) and not further though according to a beneficiary of dugwell said that the remaining pipes were taken away instead of installing them for another tap point. To get drinking water that too has the chlorine taste, some consumers walk for 3-5 minutes to the school playground. And we also found that the tap that was installed three months ago was already broken and water was gushing out. What a waste of treated water! There is no maintenance plan nor there is anybody to inspect on the work completed properly according to the plan. When and how to change this practice is a big question?

2. One of other issue is if the dugwell is located in a person’s land, who willingly had given the space for the dugwell for the community, has any difference in political, religious or family views that of the neighbors, then dugwell water would be underused. Such people would prefer to drink arsenic contaminated water from its own tubewell rather than getting water from the dugwell. These people give more importance to family feud, political affiliations rather than public health. They would not even attend the health meetings as they come to know that ‘water’ would be topic of discussion.

Maintenance Revenue:

The users would require to purchase theoline, the disinfectant, and also repair minor wear and tear. The dugwells will be visited by the field workers every month for one year to get technical and utility reports followed by inspection once or twice a year.

Maintenance Cost: $40

Metrics:

Prior art before metrics

Cost: $8,000

USD
construction 5,417
water analysis 480
transport 140
training & service fee 1,256
administration 708

Co Funding Amount:

not known yet

Community Contribution Amount:

Properties to construct the dugwell and fresh cooked meals for the team of diggers and field workers on the days of construction. The communities pay for the maintenance of the dugwells that include chlorination and repair of normal wear and tear.

Fund Requested: $8,000

Implementing Organization: Project Well & Aqua Welfare Society

Aqua Welfare Society, AWS, is the partner NGO of Project Well. Their office is based in the North 24 Parganas. The 7 honorary board members are located in Kolkata. There are only 5 field workers who are interacting with the villagers and beneficiaries, training the users on maintenance of the dugwells, organizing village meetings and health meetings. A technical advisor of AWS is based in Kolkata who visits the village occasionally and one awareness programmer who is in charge of awareness programs in the communities and educational institutions. There is an accountant and also a data entry person on part time basis.

Attachments

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  • 2 participants | show more

    Need Clarification

    Iskaka Msigwa of Tanzania Mission to the Poor and Disabled (PADI)

    The proposal is stating that “the water is odourless and test less, the water can be heavily contaminated and yet taste fine. But you continue saying the dug well is improved every year based on consumers reports .How can they detect the problems and report? What type of the report the consumers provide? The damage or contamination o...

    The proposal is stating that “the water is odourless and test less, the water can be heavily contaminated and yet taste fine.
    But you continue saying the dug well is improved every year based on consumers reports .How can they detect the problems and report? What type of the report the consumers provide? The damage or contamination of water?

    • Meera Hira-Smith of Project Well

      Thanks for the valid questions: the tubewell water that taps water from the second aquifer is odorless and tasteless that contains arsenic above the permissible limit 50 PPB. Project Well has formulated a modern dugwell that taps water from the unconfined, top aquifer, that is arsenic free. Though the design of the dugwell is modified the ...

      Thanks for the valid questions: the tubewell water that taps water from the second aquifer is odorless and tasteless that contains arsenic above the permissible limit 50 PPB. Project Well has formulated a modern dugwell that taps water from the unconfined, top aquifer, that is arsenic free. Though the design of the dugwell is modified the concept is traditional that was once replaced by the shallow tubewells to stop water borne diseases. Hence Project Well is working on this issue very cautiously. They have introduced chlorination through careful observation of the consumer reports and laboratory reports of total and fecal coliform bacteria and also every year arsenic is tested of all the dugwells since arsenic is present in the soil. These can be considered as ancillary activities. Every month the field workers visit the dugwells: some to cross check if they are or not by the users, that is done weekly and others to help the users to measure the water and assess the dose of chlorine. The disinfectant is also delivered by the field workers that is still not available in the market. The consumers also comment on the taste, color, odor of the dugwell water. Water of some dugwells is excellent, better than tubewell water while others do have slight organic smell. The tubewell water that contains high level of arsenic are odorless so the smell of chlorine, similar to the treated tap water, is also not liked by some users. It is very difficult to change the habit from crystal clear water to chlorinated water hence now a locally available, cheap (US$2) earthen filter (that contain ceramic candle) are being distributed in those areas where the water has any kind of odor. A survey is ongoing to assess the response of the people those who complaint about the odor of the water. We are constantly visiting the villagers who do not care much about the long term effects of arsenic for they are more concerned of their current problematic issues. The village reports, newsletters and the published papers on contaminants are available on the projectwellusa.org website.

  • 3 participants | show more

    Rope pump introduction

    Rajesh Shah of Blue Planet Network

    Would you be interested in working out a scheme to introduce the rope pump? Might be a very worthwhile exercise for someone from PW/AWS to visit a rope pump installation and/or for them to visit you. It seems the rope pump is useful for creating a local skill and easier to maintain.

    Would you be interested in working out a scheme to introduce the rope pump?

    Might be a very worthwhile exercise for someone from PW/AWS to visit a rope pump installation and/or for them to visit you. It seems the rope pump is useful for creating a local skill and easier to maintain.

    • Kusum Gaur of Humana People to People India

      yes of course we would like to promote Rope pump. if we get demands from Organizations we can trained the staff and community members to produce, install and maintain rope pumps. It will be good to invite NGO' to see the functioning rope pumps and knowledge can be transfered. Greetings. Kusum

      yes of course we would like to promote Rope pump.
      if we get demands from Organizations we can trained the staff and community members to produce, install and maintain rope pumps.

      It will be good to invite NGO' to see the functioning rope pumps and knowledge can be transfered.

      Greetings.
      Kusum

    • Meera Hira-Smith of Project Well

      Definitely we would like to try out a couple of rope pumps first. It would be best for two technical persons from India (AWS) to visit sometime before October to discuss the viability of rope pumps in shallow dugwells in detail. There is plan for digging five dugwells in Nadia district at the end of this year. PW will contact HPPI as soon ...

      Definitely we would like to try out a couple of rope pumps first. It would be best for two technical persons from India (AWS) to visit sometime before October to discuss the viability of rope pumps in shallow dugwells in detail. There is plan for digging five dugwells in Nadia district at the end of this year. PW will contact HPPI as soon as some decision is taken. Thank you very much for the offer Kusum. But there is some concern that is discussed in HPPI’s proposal earlier and inserting here too.
      “In West Bengal hand pumps (tubewells) are used that draw water from more than 350 feet. What are the advantages of these rope pumps over the hand pumps? The cost of one hand pump is Rs. 850/-. Recently a 32 feet handpump was installed that cost Rs.1700/- including the 1.5” dia pvc delivery pipe and labor charge. Cost of pvc pipe per feet is Rs. 7/- versus iron pipe that is Rs.75/-. In the old days iron pipes were used, nowadays cheap pvc pipes are in use. Project Well uses flexible pipes that floats in the dugwell water that gets adjusted with the fluctuating water level throughout the year. Fixed pipes were used initially that needed to be cut and extended with the change in the level of water during monsoon and summer seasons. Hence there was change in design. I think rope pump would be useful only to increase the popularity of dugwell due to the novel design in that part of the country. If water is withdrawn only from the deeper (bore) part of the dugwell then perhaps rope pump can be used replacing the flexible pipes. Need to discuss with the experts.”
      Thank you.

  • 2 participants | show more

    Social issues

    Rajesh Shah of Blue Planet Network

    While your technology is maturing and evolving well, it seems you are hitting the social barriers. In one of your earlier reports, you mention that in a couple of cases, the chlorine reduces use. And in this application you mention the family feud issues. Are you not able to put the well on some common land? Anyway, your excellent repor...

    While your technology is maturing and evolving well, it seems you are hitting the social barriers.

    In one of your earlier reports, you mention that in a couple of cases, the chlorine reduces use. And in this application you mention the family feud issues.

    Are you not able to put the well on some common land?

    Anyway, your excellent reports are very welcome and form a great example. Please keep them coming. Please add some individual experiences and interviews. And do keep us abreast of your struggles with the social issues.

    • Meera Hira-Smith of Project Well

      Hi All, I am travelling today very tight connections. will arrive San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. Hope can answer to the querries on Sunday. when is the deadline? thanks. got to board.

      Hi All,
      I am travelling today very tight connections. will arrive San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. Hope can answer to the querries on Sunday. when is the deadline? thanks. got to board.

    • Meera Hira-Smith of Project Well

      The common land would mean land belonging to the government, to the PWD (public work department). This is being avoided because of the attitude of the people that developed the saying ‘sarkar ki maal gadiya mein dhal’ means ‘ who cares, government’s belongings so throw it in the ditch’. PW/AWS is facing all kinds of challenges including ...

      The common land would mean land belonging to the government, to the PWD (public work department). This is being avoided because of the attitude of the people that developed the saying ‘sarkar ki maal gadiya mein dhal’ means ‘ who cares, government’s belongings so throw it in the ditch’. PW/AWS is facing all kinds of challenges including geological difficulties hence adjustment of the design, smell of chlorine that required adjustment and was executed very cautiously through several laboratory tests and behavorial change of the people because the taste of water of dugwell is similar to treated tap water but not favored by the villagers who are habituated to drink sweet, cold, clean water from the tubewells in summer that contain arsenic. And also political, economical (maintenance) and social family feuds. The family feuds are not too common and efforts are being made to educate the school students and teachers and also village communities through health meetings to encourage and help the villagers to understand the causes and effects of different kinds of pollution and contaminants. Hope someday instead of discussing politics and cricket people will discuss public health and sports during their ample spare time. Thank you.

  • Not Reviewed

    by (only shown to members)

  • Rating: 7

    review by (only shown to members)

    The project is involving the beneficiaries which is good for sustainabily.

  • Rating: 10

    review by (only shown to members)

    Our observations are based on two facts-
    1. Our study visit to the dug well sites in the villages in 24 Parganas developed by Project Well, three
    years ago.
    2. Evaluation of the Project Proposal submitted to Peer Water Exchange.

    1.Our on field assessment of the project well involved study of the well construction, the geography
    and geology of the area, community response to this initiative and our interactions with the
    stakeholders. In most of the dug wells visited by us, it was found that the simple user-friendly
    design of the dug well, community participation in the program, regular monitoring and maintenance
    by trained persons and project staff were the bases for the success of this initiative to provide
    arsenic-free drinking water to the rural population. Most of the dug wells were well accepted by the
    families. In only a few cases, some bias was seen on the part of the users, which may be linked to
    local politics and social rivalry. All the dug wells had proper management schemes related to control
    of bacterial contaminations and monitoring of arsenic levels in the well water. A significant attribute
    of this project is its total freedom from utilization of energy [Electricity/ fossils fuel]. This makes the
    dug wells cost-effective and sustainable due to its affordability, easy maintenance and social
    acceptability in an otherwise impoverished area.
    However, the frequent complaint of the dug well users was the repulsive smell of chlorine in the well
    water. Also, lowering of the water table in the wells in dry season was a constraining factor in the full
    supply of arsenic and bacteria free water throughout the year.

    2. Our evaluation of the submitted proposal by Project Well and AWS leads to the following
    conclusions:
    This Project is already implemented successfully in many villages of 24 Parganas, West Bengal.
    This proposal is the extension and an improvement of the dug well program of Project Well. The
    previous problems related to the project have been well-addressed through innovative measures.
    The issue of the smell of theoline has been effectively dealt by adopting reduced chlorination doses
    in increased frequency. Simultaneously, to achieve zero bacterial contamination, this water after
    being drawn from well , has provision of being stored in earthen body (‘mawtka’) filters. It reflects
    effective usage of local resources through green technology.
    The previous problem of declining water level in dry season has also been solved by introducing
    modified design where due to sand boiling manual digging was not possible. In this innovation PVC
    pipes are utilized to reach greater depths within the well, thetreby guaranteeing sufficient well water
    throughout the year.
    This proposal also has better provisions for maintenance of dug well structure as well as records of
    the progress of this initiative in the concerned districts. The entire work, from site selection to
    disinfecting of these wells, has been systematically implemented with full community participation
    and project workers’ supervision and scientific inputs. Quality of Well maintenance work is
    guaranteed through regular training to select members of the beneficiary community. There is
    greater transparency in terms of records’ maintenance and public display of the status of the dug
    wells.
    The systematic and scientific planning of this project proposal is seen as a highly sustainable
    alternative to the other ongoing mitigation schemes under the public sector. The problem of
    mitigation of arsenic contaminated drinking water in the river plains is multifarious and of increasing
    dimensions, which can be addressed only with active involvement of all the stakeholders in public
    and private sectors. This project seeks to bridge the gap existing in the government’s initiatives
    regarding suitability and demand-driven sustainability of arsenic mitigation strategies in Bengal, and
    has possibilities for replication in other arsenic affected areas as well.
    We, therefore, highly recommend the acceptance of this project proposal by Project Well and Aqua
    Well Society, on grounds of its above-mentioned merits.

  • Rating: 9

    review by (only shown to members)

    PW's approach is important and its continuing evolution is very healthy.

    The reporting is very good, esp. of all the challenges being faced.

    No hesitation in continuing to support the work.