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Article From News From Bangladesh archives


Arsenic mitigation: 6 projects to be taken under one umbrella - 12 Dec 02

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan has said the government will bring six ongoing arsenic mitigation projects under one umbrella programme.

"There are six projects now being implemented in the country and it will be easier to coordinate these if all the projects are brought under one umbrella project," he said.

The minister was addressing an awareness building meeting on arsenic mitigation at Shibpur Upazila Parishad premises in the district on Wednesday.

Shibpur Upazila Arsenic Mitigation Committee organised the programme under DPHE-UNICEF Community Based Arsenic Mitigation Project.

UNICEF's chief of Water & Environmental Sanitation Department Colin J Davis, Chief Engineer of DPHE Ishaq Ali, Deputy Commissioner of Narsingdi Akhter Hossain and Police Super Mukhlesur Rahman also spoke in the meeting chaired by Upazila Nirbahi Officer M Monirul Islam.

UNICEF is funding arsenic mitigation programmes in country's 45 upazilas. Similar programmes are in progress in 199 upazilas under the supervision of Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE). The World Bank, DANIDA, World Vision and other NGOs are funding similar projects in 223 upazilas.

"Arsenic is a serious problem but there is no reason to be scared. It is not everywhere," Bhuiyan said hoping that programmes taken by the government will be implemented properly bringing an end to the menace.

He praised the role of DPHE as it is doing various works of arsenic mitigation at a very low cost, almost half of the cost of other organisations for doing the same.

Bhuiyan said the government has a plan to supply tap water across the country through pipeline. He urged the people to use surface water after boiling.

Colin Davis said UNICEF has been working on arsenic mitigation in Bangladesh since 1996 and tested 300,000 tube-wells of the project area that identified 200 hot spots. In 1999, some 1.2 million tube-wells were tested, he said.

"In our next step, we will increase our effort to provide safe water in the priority areas," Colin said.

He informed that they are going to disclose a research based findings on food chain early next year, which will identify the foods, should be avoided for arsenicosis.

UNICEF funded DPHE with cash and technical support of around US$ 10 million so far under "DPHE-UNICEF Community Based Arsenic Mitigation Project", now under implementation in 25 upazillas. Earlier, they funded for five upazilas in one phase and 15 other upzilas in another phase.

Under the same project, 3200 arsenicosis patients were identified in 20 upazilas. UNICEF officials said Shibpur is one of the upazilas where 13,062 tube-wells were tested and arsenic was found in 460 or 3.52 percent wells.

Arsenic was first detected in the country in 1993 and after testing the water of 51,000 tube-wells across the country, it was found that 29 per cent of the tube- wells contain the poisonous element. - UNB



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