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 1 where the population drinking arsenic contaminated water >50 PPB are 87,334 and 66,685 respectively, and drinking >10 PPB are 133460 and 106374 respectively (In India the drinking water standard for arsenic, according to the Bureau of Indian Standard, is 50 PPB). 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 PPB is estimated to be about 106,000, and those who are drinking >10 PPB number about 155,000.
LocationWest Bengal, , India
Primary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 1,491
registers are being created. data is not entered in the computer yet.
School Children Getting Water: 212
registers are being created, data is not entered in the computer yet.
People Getting Sanitation: 0
People Getting Other Benefits: 1,498
Public health education on arsenic health effects and personal hygiene is given to all the dugwell beneficiaries. 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. There are five field workers working on the dugwell program who are selected from the arsenic afflicted villages. They are involved in site selection, village meetings during site selection, followed by construction of the wells and also follow up the on the technical faults of the dugwells and the numebr of users. The villagers are also shown VCDs on how to improve personal health and hygeine through proper practices. The office of Aqua Welfare Society is located in the village and the coordinator and the account asistant / data entry person travel from Kolkata to meet with them weekly. Trades like well-digging, pottery, and masonry, are required for the dugwell program and are benefiting from work generated by the project.
Start Date: 2008-01-01
Completion Date: 2008-12-31
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.
The local government bodies like the Block Development office and gram panchayats will be notified about the more dugwells to be constructed in their area so that they can be invlolved in the program. At the proposed villages the field workers will organize villages meetings. 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 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 take notes on all the technical wear and tear of the dugwells 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 ask about outbreaks of diarrhea and dysentery among users of each dugwell. There have been no such outbreaks linked to any particular dugwell water use over a period of five years.
Research and Development is ongoing on the dugwells in which the water contain organic odor and high fecal coliform that occurs mainly when the dugwell is fairly new. The water is treated with lime and in case of high level of fecal coliform the water is 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 for which a new program has been introduced in July 2006 to assess the efficacy of the locally available cheap domestic filters that would remove the unwanted smell. The analysis of the observation is under process of writing and will be publised shortly. The earthen filters are the cheapest about 80-100 INR and affordable and favored by the villagers because it also keeps water cool that is appreciated almost throughout the year. The only limitation of such filters is the need to handle with care.
For 40 dugwells USD1360
Maintenance Cost: $34
Prior art before metrics
Construction of 20 new dugwells:8354; Water analysis:1316; Transport:608;Training, Awareness and Follow-Up:5529; Office expenses: 820. Total:16628
Co Funding Amount: $5,165
Project Well Private donors
Community Contribution Amount:
Community contributes the land to construct the dugwell and Rs.10/- (25 cents) per month for maintenance of the dugwell. The earthen filter if needed to remove any sort of odor is subsidized only for the first time.
Fund Requested: $11,716
Implementing Organization: Aqua Welfare Society, West Bengal, India
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 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 and masters candidate in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, University of Texas. 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)t, 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, Social Worker, Ms. Monimala Mishra, MSc. Teacher. The Project Coordinator (2008) is Mr. Suprio Das, Chartered Electrical Engineer and the account assistant and computer person 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.