Sustainable, community-based mitigation program that provides safe water through bi-tech wells (also known as ‘bore-dugwells’), and conducts public education on water-related health issues and personal hygiene practices.
In India, more than 100 million people of the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra belt are at risk of arsenic poisoning. Five states are facing this crisis; in West Bengal alone, more than six million people are drinking crystal clear but arsenic-contaminated water from private and community tubewells. Epidemiological studies show that 1 in 100 people would die if exposed to an arsenic concentration of 0.05 mg/L in drinking water, and 1 in 50 would die if exposed to 0.1 mg/L (a common arsenic level in the private tubewells of many villages in West Bengal). Since 2001, Project Well has been providing arsenic-safe water to the rural communities by constructing shallow dugwells that tap water from unconfined aquifers that contains no arsenic. Since then, after extensive observation and research, we have modified the design to a bore-cum-dugwell that we have named bi-tech well—these improved wells are able to provide water all throughout the year. We have also implemented a Follow-Up/Surveillance Program, through which regular monitoring and evaluation of the utility of these bi-tech wells is done so that the community-based programs become sustainable. A chlorine-based disinfectant called ‘Theoline’ is administered weekly to control the growth of bacteria. No reports of diarrheal diseases have been received from the beneficiaries during the monthly field visits. Earthen, or ‘mawtka’, filters are used by villagers to remove any odor or turbidity that might be present due to the iron or other impurities. More than 7000 people use water from these wells. Over the past decade, through the surveillance program we could assess that 25% of the wells have been closed; most of the closed wells were constructed during the first few years of the program. The reasons for closure are usually technical faults, unsuitable site selection, non-cooperation from locals or panchayet, and lack of outreach programs. For the past four years, after a revision in the design of the well and an intensification of the awareness programs, demand for Project Well bi-tech wells has increased.
LocationSwarupnagar, North 24 Parganas / West Bengal, India
Primary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 400
The consumer demographic data will be entered after registers are created, when the communities start drinking from the bi-tech wells. The data will be computerized by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015. Construction of 20 bi-tech wells was completed in 2013 and construction of 40 bi-tech wells was completed in 2012. The total number of consumers from the sources constructed in 2012 is currently 1323, while the expected maximum number of consumers is 1600. Many wells are underused; hence Project Well continues its efforts to educate people on the dangers of drinking arsenic-contaminated water. The strategy of awareness meetings has changed once again, with Projector Programs being held every Friday and health meetings held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in communities where fewer than seven families are using the water. Village meetings are also ongoing virtually throughout the year, before and after construction of the wells.
Demographic data are in the process of collection and being entered in the computer. The demographic data collected from 23 communities are entered in the computer database. They are as follows--
Total consumers: 1112
Total number of families: 277
Students: 338 (includes males and females)
Children <5: 91 (includes males and females)
Hashi Rashi School, PW157, receives water from this well. There are 121 students and three teachers in this primary school. In addition this well is also used by 13 families comprising of 54 people for drinking and cooking.
School Children Getting Water: 0
not known yet
People Getting Sanitation: 0
People Getting Other Benefits: 37
It is hard to assess how many other people are benefiting from the well program. Indirectly, many people benefit because the materials, labor and transport are all sourced from the immediate locality. During site selection, several village meetings are held during which people are educated on the importance of drinking arsenic-free, bacteria-free water. Health meetings are also held in the communities. These meetings are all open to whoever would like to attend, and they discuss health and hygiene issues beyond arsenic contamination. Details are available in the 2012 newsletter, attached to this application.
The persons receiving other benefits directly are:
1. Local NGO staff – 12.
2. Construction workers: dugwell and bore-well diggers(13), handpump fitters (3), masons (6), person who writes the sponsor plates (1), tin frame fitters (2).
Start Date: 2014-01-01
Completion Date: 2014-12-31
Details on approach, technology, etc., are now available in the step-by-step well program guidelines available on the Project Well website and also attached to this application.
In short, we have been working in the area for more than a decade now and our project is well-known in the area. However, in new villages or areas under different panchayet we meet local government officials to discuss the program. One or two panchayet members introduce the field staff to the villagers during the site selection phase. From there, the field staff takes the responsibility of organizing the village meetings and, at the same time, they collect water from two tubewells to confirm the need for arsenic-free bi-tech wells in the community.
The bi-tech wells are a combination of borewell and dugwell, this design facilitates water provision throughout the year to a larger number of people. The borewell is a 10-foot long pipe 8 inches in diameter that is inserted in the 15-foot dugwell portion. A detailed description of the design is available in the Project Well guidelines.
Our program is in one phase that lasts 12 months. During this one year, site selection, water tests for arsenic in tubewells, pilot tests to detect a water bearing sand layer, boring, digging, housing of the bi-tech wells and training of the communities.
During the village meetings, the community decides who will donate a small plot of land on which to construct the well. The site should match the criteria as mentioned in the guidelines. From the moment the site is selected, the community is told that the source of arsenic-free water is theirs and they will maintain it with the help of the field worker in charge. After six months or one year, if the well provides good water that meets the satisfaction of the community, the 'handover package' with detailed instructions is given to the land donor. From there, communication is continued over the phone in case any technical attention is required; otherwise, every third month a field worker visits the well and logs a report on it that is computerized.
Over the last decade, government involvement in providing arsenic-safe water has been very poor. In some areas, government pipelines to supply water were constructed about five years after the dugwells were installed. In many areas, the pipeline that has been laid out does not supply water even after four years after construction, prompting the villagers request bi-tech wells from us. We have seen many pipelines are broken and in fact this year many ex-dugwell communities are requesting to repair and re-instate or reconstruct a bi-tech well. In the areas where we are working, there has been no news of pipeline construction in the near future. Local panchayet do install 500-foot deep tubewells but no plan of installation is available in the panchayet office. There are recent reports of many deep tubewells, as in Rajapur and Mogra of Baduria and Deganga Blocks, not being used after high concentration of arsenic was detected.
There are a few existing additional activities and we are planning to introduce some next year:
1. Arsenic tests are done in the field office using imported field kits. (details in the 2012 newsletter).
2. We are in the planning stages of introducing blood pressure measurements with easy to use sphygmomanometers and sugar level measurements using urine dip sticks for the beneficiary communities to make people more health conscious and as an added incentive to encourage and motivate other villagers to use water from the bi-tech wells.
3. The field staff are engaged in training the communities to maintain their source of safe water and make the program sustainable.
4. Introduction of low-tech-home-made odor and iron removal filter will be demonstrated so that the user families can develop them with their own cost.
5. They will also start to train users to send text messages to the PWX site so that field workers need only visit the site on demand and inspect it just once a year.
6. Capacity building is a part of this program. We may need to hire a person on a contract basis to upload pictures and upload reports on the Project Well and PWX websites.
The religious issue still persists in two communities. These particular communities do not want to use the well water after they came to know that the funders are from USA and Christians. In this case the field workers of the same religious background met with the users. According to the report from the field on July 31st 2013 communities of PW209 and PW237 and one community of Swarupnagar have restarted using water from their well.
Purchasing two motorized bike, one for male and one for a female field assistant helped with visiting the communities more often.
The users will be required to purchase Theoline, the chlorine disinfectant, and also repair minor wear-and-tear. Field workers will visit the wells every month for one year to get technical and utility reports, after which they will inspect the wells once or twice a year.
Maintenance Cost: $40
1. Site selection:
name of the land donor, address, geocodes, arsenic in existing tubewells, date and findings of pilot test.
delivery of pipes, rings, sand and other raw materials to different sites;
dates when boring, digging, masonry work are in progress;
3. Completion report:
installation of the sponsor plate; and photos taken and sent to dropbox.
4. Follow up tracking:
number of beneficiaries-monthly for one year initially followed by quarterly as the expected number of beneficiaries use the source;
date of visit, height of water in the dugwell part, amount of theoline supplied,
5. delivery of handover package to ensure sense of ownership after more than 7 families use the source and takes responsibilities of maintenance and connects with the field worker in charge via phone;
6. village and health meetings and projector programs done in the communities - three times a year or more if needed;
7. measurement of arsenic in the well water-once a year;
8. training and demonstration to the to develop low lech household filter to remove any odor and iron in the well water.
construction (10 bi-tech well) - 5569
transport+IT - 443
Service fees - 2172
Maintenance of dugwells, awareness program - 308
Overheads - 140
Total expenses - 8632
Co Funding Amount: $0
not known yet
Community Contribution Amount: $0
Properties on which to construct the dugwell, as well as fresh cooked meals for the team of diggers and field workers on the days of construction. The communities pay for the maintenance of the wells, including chlorination and repair of normal wear-and-tear.
Fund Requested: $8,632
Implementing Organization: Project Well and Aqua Welfare Society
Aqua Welfare Society (AWS) is the partner NGO of Project Well.