Safe water options: answer to arsenic crisis
G. Nayeem Wahra
Convenor, Disaster Forum
Arsenic contamination in the ground water of Bangladesh is now well
reported and its impact on human life and environment has already proven
to be life threatening at a national scale. There have already been several
research initiatives under taken by the Government, the multilateral and
the bilateral agencies that have centered on geological and hydrological
interpretation and clinical manifestation. Though such initiatives are
important for assessing and identifying the uncontaminated aquifers, Oxfam
fears that excessive exploration of geological & hydrological composition
may encourage further exploitation of ground water rather than looking
at other possible sources of safe water.
Oxfam Dhaka, in 1997 conducted a brief survey on surface water sources
and systems in Kushtia District where arsenic contamination is severe.
About 2% of the surveyed population depends on existing dug-well/indara
for drinking water for drinking water purposes. The survey further revealed
other sources which could be used as alternative sources of drinking water,
for example, existing perennial can be used for "Pond Sand Filter"
(PSF) and five pitcher filter could be re-introduced. UNICEF along with
DPHE promotes "Pond Sand Filter" and 'Ring-Well"(RW) in
areas where it has not been possible to sink tubewells or where ground
water is unfit for human consumption. These systems are recognized as safe
sources for drinking water under acceptable sanitary condition. We are
also aware of the possibility of the contamination of alternative source
of water by different bacteria / pathogen, but there also simple solutions
for treating such water.