arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh/India



Money that already spent for expensive conferences, consultants and many initiatives in the name of "arsenic mitigation project", if applied properly, people of Bangladesh would have been drinking water containing arsenic far below Bangladesh standard.

generation in danger- Noakhali Is there any future' arsenic patient 29.4.07 conert for the people, Faridpur


The World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that, within a few years, death across much of southern Bangladesh (1 in 10 adults) could be from cancers triggered by arsenic.

The arsenic hazard in Bangladesh villagers now appeared as a 'real disaster', affecting thousands physically, physiologically, mentally and economically; it is intensifying malnutrition, poverty and destitution among the already poor villagers. The future of the Bangladesh villages are jeopardized. Now it is confronting the accidental poisoning of as many as 85 million of its 125 million people with arsenic-contaminated drinking water (The Independent, U.K., October 1, 2000). The scale of disaster in Bangladesh is beyond that of the accidents in Bhopal and Chernobyl (WHO, 2000).

"Bangladeshis stare at you deeper, longer and harder than any other people I have come across. But the hardest stares I found to return were of those in great pain or dying because they have been drinking the water they were assured was safe. In the eyes of the man I met at one of the capital's hospitals I saw none of the much-praised resilience that the nation frequented by natural disasters often shows. The exhausted farmer had just made the long overnight bus journey from the far north in search of a cure for his ulcerated and bleeding hands. He told me that his farming supported seven others, most of whom now also show some symptoms of arsenic. But working the land is becoming impossible and he is in debt. I watched a young doctor trying to break the news the farmer least wanted to hear" (BBC, 18 May, 2000, 15:48, GMT ).

But we fail to understand why a comprehensive mitigation programme has not been achieved since almost all concerned have admitted that it is a serious threat to human lives (Editorial, Daily Star, June 22, 2003).

Women suffer more than men during flood

Per capita withdrawals of freshwater for domestic demands are very low in Bangladesh (6m 3/person/yr), reflecting hand pumped supplies for most of the rural population. Domestic water withdrawals in Egypt average about an order of magnitude greater (60 m3/person/yr), in large part because of the much higher fraction of urban population, including Cairo, which receive treated surface waters.

Domestic water withdrawals in the USA average about 250 m3/person/yr, reflecting extensive use for washing of clothes, dishes, showers, flushing of toilets plus watering of lawns and other vegetation.
Irrigation withdrawals in Bangladesh (200 m3./person/yr) are appreciably lower than in Egypt (900 m3/person/yr).

But difference is that two third of Bangladesh's groundwater is arsenic contaminated and the poor has no access to safe water. The small fraction of the millions of tube wells in Bangladesh that have been tested are painted red or green according to results of arsenic tests, but switching to a safe well has not been aggressively promoted.

"Violence is a constant threat in women’s lives and contributes to a large number of women feeling insecure and scared both in rural and urban areas. Women feel insecure at home as well; in one study 28 per cent of women in rural areas felt insecure when alone at home. The same study reported that (of) girls who were sexually abused, 34 per cent were abused at home. In addition, women who went out regularly to work or study felt unsafe in places that they went to on a regular basis…. Gender disaggregated statistics from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics indicate that deaths from unnatural causes including homicide and suicide are more [than] the number of maternal deaths in Bangladesh. There has been a rise in criminal violence against women in recent years,” [Haq and Hassan 2002].

All over the world, and including Bangladesh, women collect and carry water for their families, use water for cooking and cleaning and for growing food. Yet, women are often not empowered to make important decisions about water. Women are a minority in the water engineering and management professions, therefore, decisions about water are often made by men

Our project endorses the problems of the women and fully endorses active women's participation in decision making, sustainable management of water wells and maintenance of traditional social and cultural values.

Project Area Companiganj, Noakhali Cyclone - tidal surge prone

Coastal zones of the world are at short or long term risk from natural hazards associated with severe loss of lives and wealth. There are many individual stratigies for buffering the coast against natural and man-made impacts, but there is a big difference between developed and developing countries. Since three decades India and Bangladesh have been struck by at least eight tropical cyclones, each of which killed more than 10,000 people, whereas in Bangladesh the death rate was about 300,000 in 1970 and about 200 000 in 1990. A cylone in the Bay of Bengal need not start powerful than tropical storm elsewhere but the triangular shape of the Bay concentrates the force of the storm as it moves north and northeastward out of Indian Ocean. Of all the developing nation affilated by coastal storms, Bangladesh is the worst affected and posseses least preparedness to cope with such disaster. In industrial countries the same cylonic storm may cause deaths about 10, whereas in Bangladesh it will cause hundreds of thousands and turning the landscape into a mournful lake of floating corpses of human and animals desperate survivors

Situated at the head of the Bay of Bengal, most of Bangladesh is a delta formed by the convergence of three great rivers – the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. Eighty percent of Bangladesh is less than 1.5 metres above sea level and every year during the monsoon season the rivers flood half the country to a depth of 30 cm. The floods, which last for several months, have the environmental benefit of bringing fertile silt, but cause great disruption. Yet these annual floods are insignificant compared to the really disastrous floods caused by tropical cyclones. In 1970 a tropical cyclone and tidal surge killed more than 450,000 people. A repeat of this disaster occurred in 1991 when 125,000 people were killed. Apart from the loss of life, crops, livestock, roads, bridges, electricity pylons were destroyed. Salt water contaminated farmland and drinking water supplies were polluted. The Bangladesh government estimated the damage at US.5 billion.

Tidal surge inundates vast areas in Noakhali, September 23, 2005

The waters from tidal surge caused by a depression have inundated vast areas under Hatia and Companyganj Upazilas marooning six lakh people. The waters of the tide entered the vast areas through the breaches of the flood control embankment in the upazilas, washed away shrimps of the shrimp enclos ures and fishes of the ponds and caused damages to transplanted Aman plants. Ten fishermen drowned in the tide water. They were fishing in the confluence of the river Meghna. President of the Upakul Fishermen's Association Md. Jashimuddin said the tidal surge started on September 20. Nalchira Union, Sukchar Union, Amiruddin Union and some areas in Hatia porasabha went under four feet deep water. Nirbahi Officer of Companyganj Upazila M. Jabber Alam informed that the waters of the tidal surge entered Musapur, Rajpur, Elahichar and Char Hajari Unions through the breaches of the Biswa cross dam and inundated vast areas. The roads and houses in Musapur unions went under water.

The water from the tidal surge caused heavy damages to kutcha roads. At least 25,000 people of Musapur Union have been leading a sub -buman life. The tidal surge of the Bay damaged the Kazirhat regulator under Sonagazi Upazila in Feni district and inundated five villages of Sonagazi and Companyganj Upazilas. The officials from the district administration visited the affected areas but did not take measures for their rehabilitation. Local sources said the water of the tidal surge entered the five villages through the breach of the Kazirhat regulator at Char Darbesh Union under Sona Gazi Upazila. About 300 feet of the regulator collapsed and the waters marooned 240 families of the Asharayan project at Char Mahabikhari and 260 families of Char Parbatipur village under Companyganj Upazila.

The water washed away fishes of over 100 ponds and fish farms. About 20 shops adjacent to the cross dam were washed away. Aman plants on thousand acres of land went under water. A good number of poultry and goats were washed away. The people of the area having no preparedness about the tidal surge got bewildered when it appeared. The people of the tidal surge affected areas are staying in the outer cross dam under the open sky (The Independent, September 23, 2005).

All over the country arsenic awareness is the most unsuccessful program of the government and Ngos. Organised by the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) the dialogue entitled Arsenic Poisoning Awareness Among the Rural Residents in bangladesh was inadequate. Prof Paul in his keynote paper said high concentration of arsenic in ground water had been identified as one of the most alarming health hazards in Bangladesh. At the same time the arsenic awareness was not widespread in rural areas, particularly in the areas not severely affected by arsenic poisoning of drinking water, he added. He said though the arsenic awareness campaign was continuing in the country, it should attach more importance to signs and symptoms of arsenic poisoning and deadly diseases caused by it. Prof Paul strongly suggested that the public awareness programme in Bangladesh should target the poor, women, illiterate and people of older age group (Holiday, August 16, 2002).

Facing arsenic disaster - Too much time has already been wasted

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The failure to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services to all people is perhaps the greatest development failure of this century. The most egregious consequence of this failure is the high rate of mortality among young children from preventable water-related diseases. The use of surface water has been advocated after boiling or sand filtration but there are a number of quality factors which give rise to health concerns:

  • Microbiological contamination
  • Pesticides residues
  • Nitrates
  • Heavy metals, volatile chlorinated solvents etc

In addition, our estimate that 50% of Bangladesh's area exceeds the WHO health-based guideline for Mn is comparable to the BGS/DPHE's estimate. Similarly, B, Ba, Cr, Mo, Ni, Pb, and U were discovered at concentrations above WHO health-based guidelines, the BGS/DPHE team, or both teams (BGS, and DPHE, 2001). Considering the population of this country and that 97% of its people drink from wells (UNICEF, 2002; WHO, 2000), these data suggest that tens of millions of Bangladeshis are drinking water with unsafe levels of As, Mn, B, Ba, Cr, Mo, Ni, Pb, or U.

However, mitigation efforts should not be limited to As; the health risks from other toxins in this region's drinking water must also be addressed. The As concentration ranged from <0.0007 to 0.64 mg/L. Arsenic was measured at or above its 0.0007 mg/L detection limit in 90% of the samples. Arsenic exceeded the 0.01 mg/L WHO drinking water guideline in 56% of the samples.

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2. 1. Review and Update Safe Water Options

We visited villages during February and March 2004 that were covered by our project. We established several dug wells, rain water harvesting and shallow arsenic free tubewells units (about 200). To our surprise 95% of the units at the lowest ground water stand were functioning properly. After the arsenic poisoning us first made new dug holes in Faridpur district. The NGOs and Government made several dug holes and many of them improperly constructed and we found many dry dug holes. Villagers think that we have constructed all the dug holes and requested us for new dug holes. People who were drinking arsenic free water are no longer suffering from arsenicosis.

2. 2. Water Sharing

Rediscovering fundamental values- valuing diversity, sustainabiliy, community and livelyhood of the people.

women for water shareingIn the epic In Bangladesh pre Aryan civilization along the downstream of Ganges. Mahabharatas the lower parts of the Ganges became recognized as sacred places. Buddhist civilization also grew around the bank of lower Ganges. From Carya to Lalon the mystic and Tagore shaped their music, literature and philosophy for a sharing society. But, today, these values are forgotten.

The simplest and most immediately achievable option is the sharing of tube wells that are currently low or free from arsenic. However, class and caste relationships, such as rich-poor or landlord inhibit sharing.
Donors, Government and NGOs have taken policy to collect money for water wells and thus well are constructed inside their house. Poor cannot take part and the ten member committee mostly from the same family, and don't allow others to collect water. Man dominated social system and religion does not allow women to carry water from other houses. Religion dominated Noakhali inhabitants want to have arsenic free water well in each house, whereas social condition is better in Faridpur district. Women's participation through traditional cultural heritage (traditional simplism (in Bengali "Shahajia"), humanism and secular thoughts that developed over centuries) make it possible for all type day to day sharing through a co-operative society.


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Dug Wells

dug well constructionWe first introduced first new dug wells in Faridpur that was abondoned since thirty years ago and advocated for dug wells.Now there are more dug wells through local initiatives but still lacking appropriate technical personal with the knowledge of formation and water hydrology.Many dug holes become dry because of improper construction..

Advantage of Dug Wells:

  • Dug wells are indigenous technology in Bangladesh.
  • The wells are cheaper and easier to construct and less susceptible to bacteriological contamination (BRAC, August 2000).
  • Natural biological filtration occur, when water percolates through sand bodies (develop microbial flora whose metabolism contributes to the effectiveness of removing effluents)
  • In dug wells within the standing water simple sedimentation take place and has been found frequently a substantial reduction in BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand).
  • Natural iron coagulation and settlement occur within standing water (decrease in arsenic, suspended solids, ammonia, nitrate and phosphate content).

    We recommend for dug wells :

  • Better oxygenation occurs (active water) with traditional bucket system, with bamboo weight lifter.
  • There is a misuse of water, if water pump is added. Too much use of pump and water make difficult for natural replacement of water.
  • Traditional methods - open system, as oxygenation accelerated through dropping of bucket. In a close system oxygenation cannot occur and several types of insect growth are accelerated, inhibit natural biological filtration, and reduced dead water containing other soluble anions taste bad.
  • It is difficult to maintain a dug well at an open public place. Our experience shows that if the responsibility is given to the women, it is optimally and sustainably utilized.

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    2. 4. Recommendation for arsenic mitigation.

    Our experience suggests the following priorities for arsenic mitigation:

  • Women's participation through traditional cultural heritage (traditional simplism, humanism and secular thoughts that developed over centuries), as women is the silent victim of ground water poisoning.
  • Shallow arsenic free tube wells (below standard) as it is easy to maintain and are free from biological contamination.
  • Dug wells, where shallow wells cannot be constructed.
  • Rainwater harvesting, in the light of reservoir that meets demand of the whole year.
  • Deep tube wells, only in the proved areas, shallow aquifers separated by confined layers of clay sediments, and not intruded by saline water.
  • Use of cloth-filter, as an old sari cloth, folded at least four times, was more successful as specially designed nylon filters at removing plankton from water. Simply filtering drinking water though cloth from old clothes can cut new cholera cases in half. The method can save thousands of lives during massive epidemics, particularly those of children under the age of five,
  • Use of sand-clay-ash Clay Pot Filter, produced by the traditional clay potters and the filtration reduces arsenic and other pollutants.

    Nanotech cure for arsenic in water

    Undoubtedly, this is one of the approaches for removing arsenic from contaminated water, like aluminium, hydrated ferric oxide, membrane and ion exchanger. However, in the lab, many techniques work that prove difficult in the field. In rural India and Bangladesh, even a highly successful technology may not succeed unless the politicians will it. In India, thousands of iron removal plants were installed but in practice 90% are not working. The West Bengal government alone spent $3 million to purchase treatment plants but 92% plants are lying unused (Times of India, May 21.2007).
    Our attempts in 90s in the villages of Bangladesh failed, although we had excellent results in lab.

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    2004- 2007

    We have recently launched a pilot project in Faridpur. The message and activities on environment consciousness education, using traditional method to purify water, rainwater harvesting, to identify arsenic free water (shallow aquifer) within contaminated area,arsenic and bacteria free water and cultural gatherings addressing the rural population were immense. The principal objectives of the project are to introduce environmental consciousness education, cost-effective, efficient, user friendly and appropriate method of water purification, arsenic free water for the improvement of public health and overall protection of the environment.

    This project is completely different from other Arsenic mitigation projects because villagers will produce clay pots, sand filters, microbial disposal etc. later distribute to other villagers and thus a rapid mitigation project can spread all over Bangladesh (Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Govt. of Bangladesh, 11June, 2000)." Since no one can earn enough money out of this project, donors and others are reluctant to finance it.

    The key element of BAMWSP (Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply, LGRD Ministry) policy is "consumers-pays principles", in other words villagers have to pay it. Our experiences show that most of the rural population are very poor and can hardly afford 1 US dollar for an additional expense. Even after several years mitigation activities by the NGOs or Government are almost absent. Government's inaction putting huge number of people at risk. Our heart goes out to Sumon, a fourteen year old boy who lost one of his legs at such a tender age due to drinking arsenic poisoned water. Our reporter, who has recently visited a small village in Noakhali, says that Sumon is not alone, there are hundreds of others awaiting a similar fate. In fact, estimates show that Bangladeshis exposed to high levels of arsenic vary from a low of 2835 million to as high as 77 million, more than half the country's population. The World Health Organisation describes the arsenic contamination of ground water as "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history." But we fail to understand why a comprehensive mitigation programme has not been achieved since almost all concerned have admitted that it is a serious threat to human lives (Editorial, The Daily Star, 22 June, 2003).

    The development partners. have pumped millions of dollars into various mitigation programme ever since dangerous level of poison in underground water was detected way back in 1993. More funds are reported to be pouring in but the question is are they reaching the people who have been most affected by this rapidly increasing menace around the country' Several NGOs have been given authority through the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), to offer low cost services to prevent diseases caused by arsenic poisoning from spreading. One such project for the 'poorest of the poor' requires a group of fifty to donate as much as Tk. 4,500 in advance to receive a safe tubewell. But the government seems to have forgotten that there are many 'poorest of the poor who would not be able to gather any money, least of all the required amount (The Daily Star, June 22, 2003). Water of poison creeps in as silent killer

    Our Project Report 2003. and Project Report 2004 show how a small amount can save thousands of life.

    The immediate alternatives are:

    • Deep tube wells in Southern Bangladesh, with special reference to saline water intrusion and improved drilling methods on a contaminated aquifer. "Arsenic free water trap" at shallow depths. Rain water harvesting. Dug wells, only when "shallow water trap" is not available. Low cost community based water purification units.
    • New and immediate agricultural policy - "Flood Water Irrigation".
    • Regain traditional wisdom.

      The people will invent more methods and survival strategies, if we really want to survive and refuse vested business interests of many western countries offering inadequate and expensive technologies. We need your help to make this extraordinary project a success. Every step of the project will be accompanied with on-line reports on this page, which will enhance your active participation.

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      Recent studies by Meharg et al. (2002) and Huq et al. (2001) demonstrate significant uptake of As by rice and a range of vegetable crops commonly grown in Bangladesh.

      Numerous greenhouse studies by a number of researchers have revealed that an increase in As in cultivated soils leads to an increase in the levels of As in edible vegetables (Burló et al., 1999; Carbonell-Barrachina et al., 1999; Helgensen and Larsen, 1999) with many complex factors affecting bioavailability, uptake and phytotoxicity of As (Carbonell-Barrachina et al., 1999).

      As contamination of soils at contrasting sites and develop an understanding of the fate and behavior of As in soil.

      Arsenic contents in different depths of soils collected from As affected area and As unaffected areas. With one or two exceptions, in most cases, the top 0-150 mm contain more As than the bottom 150-300mm. The average As contents in Bangladesh soils is less than 10 mg/kg. In areas where As contamination of ground water has not been reported, the soil As content is much below the average value.

      As contaminated ground water is used for irrigation purpose, the As values are elevated. Values as high as 81 mg/kg have been recorded in surface samples at some sites. The irrigation water that is being used on this soil was found to have As concentration of 0.077mg/L.

      Nevertheless, there was no significant correlation between As content of irrigation water and surface soil As loading. On the other hand, with much elevated As in irrigation than this, the soil As content was within the average value. In fact, the correlation coefficient values for water-As and soil-As have been found to be negative. This indicates the fact that retention of As by soil is governed by its properties, particularly the nature and amount of clay contents.

      There is no direct relationship with As in ground water and corresponding As in soil (Ravi Naidu et. al,CSIRO, Adelaide Laboratory, Australia, 2003).

      British Geological Survey 2002:

      Thousands of arsenic affected patients have already been identified. If the people continue to use arsenic contaminated water, millions will lose their health or die within a few decades. Those who will survive are in a danger of carrying genetic diseases to future generation. Unfortunately, the basic facts in Bangladesh are that the people in the affected regions are still unaware of arsenic contamination and its hazardous effects.

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      3. 1.UPDATES 2007

      ARSENIC CONTAMINATION is more serious than previously presumed : British Geological survey(2000) recommended deep tubewells as an arsenic free alternative water but now deep tubewells are also contaminated:

    • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a safe limit for As in drinking water of 10 µg L-1.
    • A recent survey looked at the As concentrations of drinking water from deep wells in 64 districts in the country and found that 59 had concentrations >10 µg L-1 and 43 had concentrations >50 µg L-1.
    • Contaminated groundwater is also used for irrigation of paddy rice, which is the main staple food for the population. This practice enhances the level of As in the soils rendering them unsuitable for agriculture.
    • A few recent studies have reported that 85–95% of total As in rice and a vegetable was inorganic, which outlines the need for more studies for standardization. Arsenic concentration is higher in Bangladeshi soils, groundwater and plants (data based on 4% area of the country) than the permissible limits or normal range reported. This situation poses a serious threat on human and livestock health (M. F. Hossein, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment Volume 113, Issues 1-4, April 2006,Elsvier Pages 1-16 )

      a new as-free well by our project

      The current risk has spread over 80 million people. LGRD Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiya last Sunday informed the national parliament about the matter. In the mid-90s it was 50 million and now even before the passage of a decade it has affected 60 per cent people of the whole country. So far, around 50 lakh tube-wells have been checked (some reports say most of the tests are wrong, A new study of wells in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, suggests the arsenic test kits used by field workers are frequently inaccurate, producing scores of incorrectly labeled wells. The findings were published this month on the Web site of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The print version of the paper is scheduled for the Dec. 15 edition of the journal., 2002) and of them, 14 lakh, a staggering number, have been identified to contain arsenic. Already, arsenic contamination has taken a deadly form in 9 thousand villages with 80 to 100 per cent contamination and if the present move aimed at mitigation is not geared up then arsenic will continue to kill and deform (New Age, 19. 05. 06).

      None of the project of the Government is addressing to mitigate arsenic contamination, whereas misuse of money, corruption, manipulation and increase in so called "experts" without the practicaland scientific knowledge of arsenic mitigation are responsible for the failure of the projects. We invited resposible LGRD Minister who first wanted to visit Faridpur and then rejected to see project area! We wanted to show that a fraction of the money is required to mitigate arsenic in most of the areas. However, the country incurred a financial loss of over Tk 526 crore in 423 incidents of corruption in the year 2005, reports BDNews. This was revealed in the 'corruption detabase 2005 report' of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) published Wednesday through a press conference at the National Press Club. According to the report, LGRD and cooperatives ministry is at the top of the list of corruption with incurring over Tk 208 crore losses in 2005(Bangladesh Observer, July 6, 2006).

      locationThe principal rivers of Faridpur are the Ganges, the Arial Khan and the Haringhata. The Ganges, or Padma as it is locally called, touches the extreme north-west corner of the district, flows along its northern boundary as far as Goalanda, where it receives the waters of the Jamuna or main stream of the Brahmaputra, and whence the united stream turns southwards and forms the eastern boundary of the district. The river is navigable by large cargo boats throughout the year, and has an average breadth during the rainy season of 1600 yds. Rice is the great crop of the district. In 1901 the population was 1,937,646, showing an increase of 6% in the decade. The north of the district is crossed by the line of the Eastern Bengal railway to Goalanda, the port of the Brahmaputra steamers, and a branch runs to Faridpur town.

      Faridpur (Town) stands on both sides of the Kumar. Faridpur municipality was established in 1869. The town consists of 9 wards and 35 mahallas. The area of the town is 20.23 sq km. The population of the town is 99634; male 51.73%, female 48.27%. The density of population is 4925 per sq km. The literacy rate among the town people is 66.6%. The town has two dakbungalows. Administration Faridpur district (estd. 1815) consists of 8 upazilas, 4 municipalities, 79 union parishads, 36 wards, 92 mahallas and 1859 villages. The upazilas are faridpur sadar, boalmari, alfadanga, madhukhali, bhanga, nagarkanda, char bhadrasan and sadarpur.

      Faridpur was named after the famous sufi saint Shah Sheikh Fariduddin. Hazi Shariatullah started his Faraizi movement in the district. Indigo was being cultivated on the banks of the rivers Garai, Madhumati, Barasia, Chandana, Kumar etc. The main kuthi (indigo headquarter) was located in Mirganj of Alfadangha upazila; and its manager was A.C. Dunlop. Like other parts of Bengal there were indigo resistance movement in this district under the leadership of Pir Dudu Mia.

      Indigo Resistance Movement (1859-62) peasant agitation against indigo planters who forced raiyats (cultivators) to produce indigo for the world market. Indigo production and its export was a booming business in the early part of the nineteenth century. But it depressed in the 1840s and '50s and as a result the profit from indigo production became uneconomic at raiyat or peasant level. Hence the peasants refused to grow indigo, but the planters, who had already sunk huge capital in its production processes and were not able to withdraw their capital so quickly, put pressure on the indigo-producing raiyats to continue its production. The consequent conflict between the raiyats and the planters led to open resistance by raiyats.

      Indigo Planters forced raiyats (cultivators) to produce indigo for the world market. India produced and exported indigo from time immemorial. Western India was the centre of the indigo cultivation. Subsequently, in the 17th and 18th centuries, West Indies and America produced superior quality of indigo. When the indigo planters of these areas switched to more profitable crops in the later part of the 18th century, the growing cloth industry in England had to look for an alternative source for indigo. The stabilisation of the east india company's political power in Bengal combined with appropriate climate and cheap labour, made some Bengal districts highly suitable for indigo production. The movement began in Jessore and Nadia in 1859. It quickly spread in other indigo districts and continued through 1862, when government interfered in favour of the raiyats.

      As of 1991 Bangladesh census, Faridpur Sadar has a population of 335386. Males constitute are 51.91% of the population, and females 48.09%. This Upazila's eighteen up population is 176469. Faridpur Sadar has an average literacy rate of 34.2% (7+ years), and the national average of 32.4% literate

      In all of World Vision Bangladesh’s Area Development Programmes (ADPs) education and prevention of arsenic poisoning are important goals. In some ADPs, such as Chitalmari, access to safe, clean water is such a vitally important issue that World Vision runs a separate, New Zealand Government funded, water project from 2000-2003. By the end of the project more than 32,000 people had access to safe water. But we see in Faridpur almost all its program has failed whether TSF (Tubewell Sand Filter) or Direct Dug Wells (see pictures). We have shown that with the knowledge of hydrogeology, arsenic free water can be obtained with a fraction of the money spend by NGOs or Government.

      An intervention that is made with the best intentions to solve a problem but ends up worsening the situation or creating new problems. Past efforts to improve the drinking water supply of Bangladesh are a classic example.

      Unique and differing stratigraphies found within the delta system

      The distribution of arsenic in this region showed a high degree of spatial variability, this high degree of spatial variability also presented an opportunity for remediation. We have discovered that within contaminated aqufiers there is facies change (deltaic sedimentation) allows to discover arsenic free aquifers. Once we have made such discovery, many villagers intiated targeted arsenic free tubewells. Thus with afraction of the expenses we have made several arsenic free villages:

    • 1. Village Vashan Char
    • 2. Village Ambikapur
    • 3. Village Kaijuri
    • 4. Village Tulagram
    • 5. Village Muraridhoa
    • 6. Village Purbo Muraridhoa
    • 7. Village Purbo Banogram
    • 8. Village Madha Para, Domkaron
    • 9. Village Purbo Banogram, Dhakin Para
    • 10. Village Tambulkhana
    • 11. Village Betbaria
    • 12. Aubergine Village- Betbaria
    • 13. Village Kasnail
    • Also several villages in Noakhali distric and many more villages in Faridpur.

      Only arsenic-free water is not enough. We are proud for those who could made themselves self independent through our small effort:

      preparing paper bags -recycle paper paper bags -old news-paper just obtained certificates - handwork

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      3. 1.1. Milestones

      : 2007

      Ayesha Begum counting her days!

      Ayesha Bequm looking distressed and sad calling, "I have pain in chest, I cant walk, sleep or eat..." And began to cry. She lives at Alipur Faridpur with his son (15 Year) who sells newspaper to buy food. When I visted his house found the tubewell poring arsenic contaminated water (As = more than 500µ/l).

      NGO FORUM (is the apex networking and service delivery agency of NGOs, CBOs (community based organization) and private sector and civil society actors who implement water and sanitation (WatSan) programmes at the unserved and underserved rural and urban communities) is responsible for this area have not done anything although they have huge project money from the goverment (the World Bank) and Bangladesh Water Supply Program Project (BWSPP.

      But where are they working'

      ayesha aysa-hand

      A dyeing patient lying on the floor. If you do not have any money, you cannot have any treatment at the government hospital. Patient has to buy all medicine and also different charges although according to law, the poor gets free. I talked to surgeon, who wanted to operate her feet but cannot do because of her lunch and weak heart. Arif, the son tried to get some money from NGO Forum, but failed to receive any help.

      There are may such unkown patients all over the country that we do not know. Only influential people has got help but im many cases money is spent by the government but arsenic free water was not obtained.

      Though people's health is related to human rights, medical service in the country is so divided and captured by a group of people that the poor are often deprived of getting proper treatment, said former adviser to caretaker government (CG) Advocate Sultana Kamal at the first National Health Rights Convention in the city yesterday. " We are living in such a discriminatory society that there is actually no provision of getting free medical service for the poorer section," she said, adding that lack of seriousness on the part of the government is responsible for the situation.

      Sultana said the poorer section of the country is much more deprived of enjoying their health rights and awareness can play an important role in this regard (Daily Star June 16, 2007).

      We are sad that we could not help everywhere as we did not obtain any financial support to fight devil's water. This area is within the municipaty. They are supposed to get piped water. Where is the project for piped water'

      "Fold your hands and pray Oh God
      Grant Heaven to all death-stricken souls,"

      The Poor Suffers
      The power elites and politics

      Arsenic free village at Tambulkhana/Adivasi Village-

      Adivasi of Tambulkhana are neglected people. They hve not become christian but kept their traditional religion. We have made the whole village arsenic free

      Our cheap method to identify arsenic free aquifer in known area is easlly applicable to all. We have helped others to make arsenic free wells - thus a big portion of the population attained to obtain arsenic free water. These discoveries have to watch and monitor care fully. People have selected their own methods, whereas ngos and government projects unnecessarily spending poor tax payers money. We question is it lack of knowledge or corruption by the donors (The World Bank)'

      The WB functions best in countries like ours because we have no performance audits, no accountability, extreme crony corruption and, to be honest, inadequate mental faculties to challenge them. Those who have chase them for assignments. And so everyone has a stake in the World Bank.. What became obvious was the extreme contempt in which the official technocrats and bureaucrats held ordinary people. The entire idea of development in Bangladesh is based on the GO-NGO co-operation model and the people have little role to play in this. NGOs are generically fund seekers and now provider of employment. Most of them have almost no reality beyond this. And this generally grovelling bunch conveniently represents the public face in the eyes of the donors who ultimately decide policies. Not because they want to but because they have to. The ability of the national counterparts is so low that they would not be able to formulate a policy without donor support. They are unable to disagree either because that might mean fund cuts. So it all ends up in the same basket (Afsan Chowdhury, 2002).

      Computer Center at Ambikapur

      jasim computer centerstudents

      century old - village audio education

    • Education and knowledge obtain from practical training are not only improve the quality of life but also for the sustainable development and healthy civil society. Jasimuddin Computer Center have been opened at Ambikapur Ansaruddin High School and now facilitaes all women students of neighbouring villages to take part. We expect to open internet soon, so that the students can gain more knowledge and contact all over the world. The Computer Learning Center is an international nonprofit educational foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of education and preparation of youth for the workplace through the use of technology. To accomplish its mission, the Center provides numerous projects and materials to help parents and educators use technology effectively with children.

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      Pabna District

      Pabna district in Rajshahi DivisionPabna or Pubna(24n0, 89e15) is a district town in the West-Central Bangladesh, situated between the Padma(Ganges) and the Jamuna(Brahmaputra). Pabna district comprises of ten(10) administrative units called thana or upazilla.

      The origin name “ Pabna” is not found in any history. Various endeavours were made from time to time but no unanimous conclusion has been reached so far historians holding different opinions. Couningham, a renowned archaeologist, conjectured that the name Pabna might have been derived from the old kingdom Pundra or Pundrabardan, the country of pods, whose capital was at Mahasthangarh in the adjoining district of Bogra, but it has not received general acceptance of the scholars. Many folk assertions have locally taken roots and branches in search of the origin of the name of Pabna. One of these is that the area was named Pabna after a notorious dacoit of that time. But Radha Raman Saha in his History of Pabna strongly contradicts such views because he found on search nobody by this name was on the list of robbers of this district.

      Another popular belief is that the region of Pabna got its name from Pabnee one of the confluent streams of the river Ganges flowing by the south of this land. Perhaps this may be acceptable, because the district is intersected by rivers of varying magnitude.

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      Mughal Emperor Shahjahan In 1632,on the way towards Dhaka by river through Chalan Bil, under the campaign against the Portuguese pirates, made a stopover in Potajia,a river-port near Shahjadpur. There he visited the Nabaratna Temple

      on the Dhaka-Bogra highway, one reaches Hatikumrul village in Sirajgonj. Here stands the temple named Nabaratna Mondir, with its terracotta and antiques. However, on a closer look, one is shocked to see the historically important temple. A significant portion of the monument has been damaged due to the lack of proper maintenance and care. The main room of the temple, on the first floor, is still in somewhat good condition in comparison with other rooms. However, some parts of the other rooms have already been turned into ruins. A reliable official of the Archaeology Department said that most of the rooms of the temple have been destroyed along with its terracotta and artistic design. He revealed that another four old temples in adjoining areas, including Shiva Mondir, are also being damaged. Nabaratna Mondir was built on almost the same design as Kantuzir Mondir in Dinajpur. However, the beauty and the artistic design of the temple have been ruined.

      In his publication Ancient Monuments of East Pakistan, archaeologist Doctor Syed Mhamud-Ul- Hassan said that the temple was built in the early 17th century. He also observed in his publication that the temple was damaged in the earthquake in the year 1879.

      Some bricks and terracotta had been pulled out from its original possession and taken away without any resistance.

      Nabaratna Temple in Hatikumrul area in the northern district of Sirajganj, which was declared as an important archeological site, has been stripped of its beauty due to lack of maintenance and preservation. The archeology department sources said there were terracotta tiles on the walls and pillars of the two-storey temple. A large number of these tiles with engravings of flowers has allegedly been stolen, said the officials (Daily Star, August 18, 2006).

      Officials of the Archaeological Department said that the temple was declared as protected in the year 1987. However over the last 18 years, the authority has allocated some money for maintenance only once. Nevertheless the officials still believe it is possible to restore the temple to its original glory-- provided the Government allocates the required funds for renovation.

      It is observed that the east-west corridor of the ground floor has lost its previous beauty as the roof had been damaged because of negligence. Some local people built their houses and cultivated different crops, including bananas, adjacent to the temple.

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      Glimpses of Bengal

      tagore padma river Padma Boat with Tagore

      The cultural heritage of Bengal goes back thousands of years but it was Tagore who opened the gateway of Bengali literature to the rest of the world. He travelled all over the world, bringing back fame and honour for his country Rabindranath Tagore was deeply touched by the pristine beauty of the then East Bengal, now Bangladesh, with its winding and full-flowing rivers, lofty native trees on the banks, miles of golden paddy fields, wide assortment of birds and the haunting tunes of folk songs. He came to this part of Bengal often to stay for months and during such times he composed some of his immortal poems and songs. Some spot the influence of traditional Baul songs in many of his compositions, and it is no secret that the songs of Lalon, the mystic composer and singer of Kushtia, had profound influence on the bard. It is here that he found the required inspiration to write seven volumes of poetry, including Shonar Tori and Khanika, all between 1894 and 1900.

      Tagore wrote during his stay in now Bangladesh wonderful letters to his niece Indira which were later published in 1912 as Chhinnapatra (Torn Leaves) and in English as Glimpses of Bengal.

      These letters are excellent images of Bengal and the Bengali life. Tagore told WB Yeats in 1918, that those very years were most productive for him, and made a new chapter in his life. He felt that the letters would present to Yeats, pictures and ideas of his surroundings more vividly and accurately than anything he had ever written. Both the boat and the river became an integral part of his time in Shelidah and played a significant role in the letters. He wrote about the people of his estate and about their life. His time was spent writing copiously and reading avidly.

      From the boats, he watched life on the banks. He looked on at ferries endlessly carrying villagers to and from the market; groups of boys raucously rolling logs along the bank; or a young village bride sailing away to another village, leaving behind her tearful family behind; or a feisty gypsy woman rebuking a high-handed police constable.

      In Shelaidah and Shazadpur on the bank of the Padma he came in close contact with the common village people and learnt about their life and realized their pathos and misery. The revelation had an immense reflection on his work which is particularly evident in the post 1891 writings. Most of his finest short stories were written during this period. The serene rural surrounding inspired him to write, and it was at this time, ‘The Postmaster’ was written. Written in 1891 ‘The Postmaster’ was among Tagore’s earliest stories; it was made into a film by Satyajit Ray in 1960-61. He published several poetry collections, notably Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat, 1894), and plays, notably Chitrangada (Chitra 1892;) during these years. Tagore wrote in the common language of the people. He achieved this quality during his stay in Sheliadah.

      In time the boat became his life. To quote from Tagore: ‘They tied the boat in a stuffy place last night and drew down the curtains. The closeness woke me up and on top of it some people started to sing at about 1 or 2 in the morning. ‘How much longer will you sleep? Awake, awake beloved’ ... The boatman stopped their singing but the words went on ringing in my ears ‘awake, awake, beloved!’ till I felt ill. Finally I raised the curtains and fell asleep towards dawn... I may be able to leave here after a fortnight but I am not yet certain.’

      “I wrote from what I saw, what I felt in my heart – my direct experience (Tagore)."

      today padmaA few lines from one of Tagore’s poems written in Shelidah:

      ‘Whoever wishes to,
      May sit in meditation
      with eyes closed
      To know if the world be true or false.
      I, meanwhile,
      Shall sit with hungry eyes,
      To see the world
      While the light lasts.’

    • Poems of Bengal

      “All the colour, the light and shade, the still splendour of heavens, and the peace and glory that fill the region between sky and earth- what a tremendous ensemble they create!"

      "....... There was not a single ripple on the Padma; and from the line of its farthest shore, way beyond the new sandbank in the middle right up to the nearer shore, glimmered a broad band of moonlight. Not a living soul, not a boat, not a tree nor a blade of grass was visible.……."
      (Selected Letters, Glimpses of Bengal).

      The swedish society started showing interest for literary works of Rabindranath Tagore as early as 1911. Prince William duke of Sörmland visited Calcutta on route to Cooch-Bihar via Ishwardi (Pabna) in the same year. He vividly documented his experiences in Calcutta and acquaint himself with the Tagore family, in his book Där solen lyser (There the sun shines). It is still unclear if Rabindranath Tagore met the prince at all during his visit. It is interesting to note that Rabindranath Tagore became Nobel laureate 1913,at that time the Swedish Academy had only chance to read RT's works in english translation and even bangla originals! The famous Stockholm publisher P.A.Norstedt & Söner förlag (now known as Norstedts Förlag AB) initiated publishing RT's books.

      Amazing enough the first book which was translated into swedish was The Gardener and the Crescent moon and not Gitanjali. Norstedts six different very successful english to swedish translators were engaged to translate RT's 26 different works only two were translated from French. Unfortunately bangla to swedish translation was unthinkable at that time. This situation perhaps made Tagore translations in swedish not offering the readers the real Tagore taste in his work. In 1921 published Norstedt seven of Tagore's books.

      På vägen till Pabna, den 9 juli 1895
      Jag glider fram genom den smala, slingrande Ichamati, regntidens lilla strömdrag. Med sina rader av byar på stränderna, sina fält med jute och sockerrör, sina vassbeväxta ställen, sina gröna badsluttningar liknar den några rader av en dikt, ofta läst och läst med förtjusning. Man kan icke minnas en stor flod som Padma,men denna lilla slingrande Ichamati, vars stavelsers flöde regleras av regnens rytm, gör jag mer och mer till min egen....

      Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore's description of the Ichamati river in Pabna in his famous book Glimpses of Bengal.

      Tagore wrote:

      The day is no more; the shadow is upon the earth. It is time that I go to the stream to fill my pitcher.
      The evening air is eager with the sad music of the water. Ah, it calls me out into the dusk. In the lonely lane, there is no passer-by, the wind is up, and the ripples are rampant in the river.

      I know not if I shall come back home. I know not whom I shall chance to meet. There at the fording in the little boat the unknown man plays upon his lute." (Gitanjali)

      Tgores children rhyme on Pabna:

      tagore - children rhyme

    • Rabindranath Tagore spent the prime of his life at Patishar of Rajshahi, Shilaidah of Kustia and Shahjadpur of Pabna in Bangladesh. Though he came here to oversee his zamindari, these visits had immense impact on his thought, philosophy and creativity. The Tagore songs composed in this tradition are treasures of our music. He spent most of the time watching the unique natural beauty, interacting with the bauls and rural bards as well as writing and composing. Most of his popular writings -- from Chhinnapatra to Nobel Prize-winning book Geetanjali -- have spontaneously overflowed through powerful emotions recollected from tranquility of these regions, especially in his poems and songs.

      Not only the tune but also the unique natural beauty Bangladesh -- especially monsoon and spring, boating on river Padma, the beauty of the rivers, diversified landscape, have appeared repeatedly in his writings. Lyrics of many of his 2,232 songs, especially devotional songs, love songs and songs on seasons as well as many poems have been influenced by his visit to this region. The thematic variety of these songs reflect the rich emotional life of the Bangalees. This has made Tagore songs an essential part of life of the Bangalees -- in happiness, sorrow, and at work.

      Glimpses of Bengal by Sir Rabindranath Tagore

      those distant villages used to appear, like dark green clouds. To-day the whole of the wood is visible. Land and water are gradually approaching each other like two bashful lovers. The limit of their shyness has nearly been reached their arms will soon be round each other's necks. I shall enjoy my trip along this brimful river at the height of the rains. I am fidgeting to give the order to cast off.

      10th July 1893.

      All I have to say about the discussion that is going on over "silent poets" is that, though the strength of feeling may be the same in those who are silent as in those who are vocal, that has nothing to do with poetry. Poetry is not a matter of feeling, it is the creation of form. Ideas take shape by some hidden, subtle skill at work within the poet. This creative power is the origin of poetry. Perceptions, feelings, or language, are only raw material. One may be gifted with feeling, a second with language, a third with both; but he who has as well a creative genius, alone is a poet.

      13th August 1893.
      Villages consisting of a cluster of huts, built on mounds, stand out here and there like islands, and boats or round, earthen vessels are the only means of getting about from village to village.

      Where the waters cover cultivated tracts the rice grows through, often from considerable depths, giving to the boats sailing over them the curious appearance of gliding over a cornfield, so clear is the water.
      Elsewhere these beels have a peculiar flora and fauna of water-lilies and irises and various water-fowl. As a result, they resemble neither a marsh nor a lake, but have a distinct character of their own.]

      26th (Straven) August 1893.
      For some time it has struck me that man is a rough-hewn and woman a finished product.
      There is an unbroken consistency in the manners, customs, speech, and adornment of woman. And the reason is, that for ages Nature has assigned to her the same definite role and has been adapting her to it. No cataclysm, no political revolution, no alteration of social ideal, has yet diverted woman from her particular functions, nor destroyed their inter-relations. She has loved, tended, and caressed, and done nothing else; and the exquisite skill which she has acquired in these, permeates all her being and doing. Her disposition and action have become inseparably one, like the flower and its scent. She has, therefore, no doubts or hesitations.

      But the character of man has still many hollows and protuberances; each of the varied circumstances and forces which have contributed to his making has left its mark upon him. That is why the features of one will display an indefinite spread of forehead, of another an irresponsible prominence of nose, of a third an unaccountable hardness about the jaws. Had man but the benefit of continuity and uniformity of purpose, Nature must have succeeded in elaborating a definite mould for him, enabling him to function simply and naturally, without such strenuous effort. He would not have so complicated a code of behaviour; and he would be less liable to deviate from the normal when disturbed by outside influences.

      Woman was cast in the mould of mother. Man has no such primal design to go by, and that is why he has been unable to rise to an equal perfection of beauty.


      I am gliding through this winding little Ichamati, this streamlet of the rainy season. With rows of villages along its banks, its fields of jute and sugar-cane, its reed patches, its green bathing slopes, it is like a few lines of a poem, often repeated and as often enjoyed. One cannot commit to memory a big river like the Padma, but this meandering little Ichamati, the flow of whose syllables is regulated by the rhythm of the rains, I am gradually making my very own....

      It is dusk, the sky getting dark with clouds. The thunder rumbles fitfully, and the wild casuarina clumps bend in waves to the stormy gusts which pass through them. The depths of bamboo thickets look black as ink. The pallid twilight glimmers over the water like the herald of some weird event.

      I am bending over my desk in the dimness, writing this letter. I want to whisper low-toned, intimate talk, in keeping with this penumbra of the dusk. But it is just wishes like these which baffle all effort. They either get fulfilled of themselves, or not at all. That is why it is a simple matter to warm up to a grim battle, but not to an easy, inconsequent talk.
      July 9, 1895.

      May be Pabna with it beautiful rivers looks the same as hundreds years ago, but now with arsenic poisoning - glimpses of Bengal have totally changed - a black cloud has changed the life of the millions villagers!

      Back to Content

      A high power expert team visited Pabna District 1997:

      PABNA, Dec 19. 1997: A high-powered team led by Dr Bakar N Kabir of the World Bank today visited Hatigara village under Bera Pourasava of Pabna district to conduct survey on arsenic contamination in tubewell waters.

      The team will conduct similar survey in 203 villages under 50 thanas of 23 districts as part of its three-month-long programme. During today's visit, the team members made on the spot test and found arsenic contamination in tubewell waters of different houses.

      Arsenic contamination in tubewell waters of this village was detected six months back after conducting a primary test jointly by Dhaka Community Hospital, Public Health Engineering Department and Directorate of Health. Several persons with skin diseases caused by drinking arsenic polluted water were also found in the village.

      While talking to The Daily Star, the team leader Dr Bakar N Kabir disclosed that tubewell waters in many unions and villages under Bera thana are found containing arsenic within permissible level. The other members of the team were Dr Deepak Battacharya, Chief of Water and Sanitation Section of UNICEF; Mike McCarthy, First Secretary, Engineering Adviser, DFID, British High Commission; Mofazzal Haque, National Field Programme Officer, WHO; Zahirul Haque, Superintending Engineer, Department of Public Health Engineering, Rajshahi; Miss Lamia Karim, Raice University, America; GB Sarkar, Senior chemist, WHO; Abdus Sattar, chemist, Department of Public Health Engineering and Prof Quazi Kamruzzaman, Chairman of Dhaka Community Hospital (Daily Star, Dec. 20, 1997).

      Quazi Quamruzzaman, Prof. Mahmuder Rahman, Dr. Shibtosh Roy, Ranajit Das, Ranak C.M. Jabed Yousuf , S.M. Basit, Md. Altab Elahi, Safiqul Islam, Momtaj Uddin, Md. Salim of Dhaka Community Hospital:

      Safe drinking water becomes a problem in dry season without hand tube-wells. There are 14383 hand tube-wells supplying drinking water to the people of this area. Our main objectives of the project is to develop a model for mitigation program which can if necessary be replicable. The main components were to assess the situation of contamination in the Upazilla, find an option for the owners of contaminated tube-well with an extended service for affected people. This was a government program funded by UNICEF and implemented by DCH. We are also implementing similar projects in smaller areas of Iswardi Upazilla of Pabna District and in Faridpur Sadar. The small duration for such a model project may not prove itself fit for replication but the experiences gathered in the field level precious for us. We feel it very essential to propose some important issues for any integrated mitigation program for arsenic.
      1. All the tube-wells should be tested urgently by well-trained person on emergency basis.
      2. Trained doctors should finally do identification of patients and follow-up should be a part of such program.
      3. Mitigation should follow immediately or should be an integral part of the process along with a comprehensive program for awareness campaign to achieve sustainability.
      4. Whole community should be involved in all aspects and in ensuring water quality. The testing facilities should be nearer to them and possibility by them within affordable cost.
      5. Top level coordination and research must be encouraged to understand the whole issue.

      The Daily Star Mon. June 14, 1999 Reports:

      Rahman's right leg had to be amputated, last year, as the poisoning had already spread to his limb and surrounding parts of his body. He is now counting his last days.

      During this correspondent's recent visit to his village home of Iswardi thana (police station) in Pabna district, Rahman, on his crutches, said, "I have been drinking water from a tubewell installed by the Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) but never knew that I and my family had been drinking poison."

      "I had no idea of cancer in my body until doctors from the capital (Dhaka) came to test urine and hair samples from me to confirm that the level of poisonous arsenic in my body had exceeded the danger level for long," said Abdul Rahman.
      "The scale of groundwater arsenic contamination in the country is not confined to shallow tubewells but also with the size of the population suffering from cancer caused by drinking contaminated tubewell water," Prof Quazi Quamruzzaman, chairman of DCH Trust, told The Daily Star.

      Prof Zaman said, "Based on our recent random survey in the villages (20 tubewells, a union, in 61 districts), we estimate that the number of people at risk of arsenic cancer will go into million. "Officially, 7,600 cases of arsenic cancer patients have been detected in the country, so far, during a recent government survey, funded by the United Nations' Development Program (UNDP) in 200 villages found 57 people were amputated.

      Gangrene detected in arsenic patients: The Daily Star Thu. November 18, 1999

      The Dhaka Community Hospital has detected 20 patients who have developed gangrene in their legs and arms due to use of groundwater contaminated with arsenic, officials of the hospital told The Daily Star yesterday. "The cases were detected during a survey on arsenic patients in 28 districts in the south-western and central regions of the country", said Shamimul Islam Shimul one of the officials. So far, 3000 patients have been detected in those areas, he added.

      In Pabna, nine out of 13 members of a family at Doyalnagar village in Bera thana were found suffering from arsenicosis.

      Four of the patients were brought to the hospital on November 11 for treatment. They are Sona Banu, his son Hanif Sheikh, daughter Rahela Khatun and grand daughter China.

      Rahela Khatun's left leg was amputated about two years ago due to gangrene from arsenicosis. Her right leg is also affected now. Of the remaining five family members of Sona Banu, the condition of two is deteriorating, but they were not willing to come to Dhaka for treatment, the officials said.

      Little hope for Sona Banu as gangrene grabs her legs: Daily Star nov. 18, 1999

      Sona Banu's right leg was amputated four months ago when doctors detected gangrene. Now, her left leg is also gangrenous and her condition is deteriorating. She has been unconscious for the last 24 hours.
      Banu's 30-year-old daughter, Rahela, also developed gangrene from arsenic contaminated water. She lost her left leg in 1997.

      "I was the first in the family to have developed arsenic poisoning," sobbed Rahela, displaying all that remains of her leg. "I feel like taking my mother back to the family. There is little hope for her survival." Drinking of ground water contaminated with arsenic leads to arsenic poisoning clinically known as arsenicosis. Quantities of arsenic less than 0.05 mg/L in ground water are permissible by the government.

      Doctors detected the family during a screening programme at the DCH in Pabna recently. They were brought to the capital for treatment on November 11.

      Dr. Quazi Quamruzzaman, chairman of the DCH, said this case was unique, since nine of 13 extended family member were victims of arsenic poisoning. "The gangrene patients detected in the country are found to be drinking arsenic contaminated water and they had manifestation of arsenicosis in different parts of their body," said Dr. Quamruzzaman.

      Back to Content Research and Studies on Pabna District

    • The DCH Dugwell Program in the PABNA region, April 30th 2007
    • Arsenic polluted village in Bangladesh loses all hope
    • Antimony: An Unlikely Confounder in the Relationship between Well Water Arsenic and Health Outcomes in Bangladesh
    • The Impact of Diet and Betel Nut Use on Skin Lesions Associated with Drinking Water Arsenic in Pabna, Bangladesh
    • Arsenic pollution has been spreading in different thanas of Pabna district. Very recently, it was detected in Pabna pourasabha
    • National Screnning Program: Union wise Summary Results
    • Arsenic Crisis:... Who is doing what in Bangladesh.
    • Approvisionnement en eau potable et lutte contre la pollution naturelle de l'eau par l'arsenic, Bangladesh Région de Pabna
    • Arsenic methylation, GSTT1, GSTM1, GSTP1 polymorphisms, and skin lesions
    • Environmental Health Perspectives, March, 2007
    • POLYMORPHISMS IN GSTT1 AND GSTM1, ARSENIC EXPOSURE, AND SKIN LESIONS IN PABNA, BANGLADESH. The Sixteenth Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) , 2004
    • Gender-Specific Protective Effect of Hemoglobin on Arsenic-Induced Skin Lesions
    • Toenail Arsenic Concentrations, GSTT1 Gene Polymorphisms, and Arsenic Exposure from Drinking Water
    • 1988 - The Civil Surgeon of Pabna reportedly identified arsenic patients : The Arsenic Saga Updated
    • National Screnning Program: Pabna District - Unions Summary Results

    • Arsenic polluted village in Bangladesh loses all hope

      Back to Content

      3. 1.2.3. People of Chhalimpur (Pabna) won't listen to only sermon,
      they want safe drinking water

      Give us pure drinking water. But don't give us only advise if you cannot give us arsenic-free tube wells,' the people of Chhalimpur union in Iswardi upazila of Pabna district said. Chhalimpur union is an area severely affected by arsenic in Pabna district. About 85 per cent tube-wells in the area are marked red to warn that their water is contaminated by arsenic, Chairman of the union said. A total of 102 people have been suffering from aresenicosis in Chhalimpur union. It has been revealed by the Screening Progress Completion report of national screening Programme (Phase-II) conducted by Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply Project (BAMWSP) and Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE)

      According to the report, a total of 52,538 peoples are living in 18 villages under Chhalimpur union of Iswardi upazila of Pabna district. During the survey completed recently, 102 established cases of arsenicosis have been identified and 13,502 peoples are at risk of arsenic poisoning in this area. According to the survey report, there are now 4,531 hand tube wells in operation. Out of the total, 2,087 tube wells have been identified as arsenic-contaminated. An average number of 78.5 people depend on a tube well for drinking water in 18 villages in Chhalimpur union. Of the arsenic-contaminated tube wells, 305 are in Baraichara village, 436 in Maniknagar, 132 in Shekherdair, 44 in Kolerkandi, 302 in Mirkamary, 74 in Gangmathal, 133 in Chhalimpur, 87 in Bokterpur, 58 in Kathalbaira, 35 in Porardar and 61 Khererdari Arsadnagar village.

      Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) also told Holiday that water of over 45 per cent tube wells in 133 villages in seven upazilas of Pabna district is more or less arsenic contaminated. Of the total 133 arsenic contaminated village:

    • 24 are in Iswardi upazila, 1
    • 1 in Sadar upazila, 55 in Sujanagar,
    • 15 in Santhia,
    • 27 in Bera and
    • 1 village in Atghoria upazila.

      Besides being the victims of the disease, the people attacked by arsenicosis are also facing serious social problems. They are neglected or even hated by others owing to their wrong belief that the disease is infectious.

      The Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) source said, the arsenic-free tube wells, have been marked green and arsenic-contaminated tube wells have been marked red. People have been advised not to use arsenic-contaminated water. But they cannot but use arsenic-contaminated water in spite of their knowledge about its harmful effects, as there is no alternative/source of water,said a DPHE official, adding, we are only screening out the arsenic-contaminated tube wells, but we are not arranging alternative source of drinking water for them.

      According to a survey report, 50 million people of the country are at risk of chronic arsenic poisoning. Out of the total arsenic related patients, 60 per cent are women and children. Many women who have been affected with arsenicosis were divorced or abandoned by their husbands. Some people of the union are aware of the arsenic problem.

      They know about the usefulness of rainwater harvesting. But it is very difficult to hold the rainwater clean as germs grow in it after some days, they said. A few have also started the three-pitcher filter system for obtaining pure water. But they said this system works very slowly and they have no time to maintain this. Tube-wells marked with green colour meaning that their water is a safe, are located at school grounds or health complexes which are far from the rural households. So, many of them are to bring water from the danger marked red tube-wells.

      General awareness about arsenic contamination is very low in the union, as elsewhere in Bangladesh. Lack of awareness about the arsenic hazards is still a big problem. As arsenic has no taste or smell, people frequently use the water of arsenic contaminated tube wells. At some places, the red paint has been wiped out from the tube-wells. Increasing people's awareness in this context should be highest priority by any means. Contamination of tube-wells waters with arsenic was first reported in early 1996 from Kushtia, Bagerhat and Satkhira districts.

      In December 1999, officials admitted that some 80 million people, i.e. more than 65 per cent of the country's population, live in the arsenic affected areas. To provide safe drinking water, the government and aid agencies had earlier installed tube-wells across the country but now the once life sustaining tube-wells have become the bane for millions of people.

      The inhabitants of the union demand arsenic-free tube-wells for their safety. They become angry when they see that health workers or outsiders coming to advise them. They said only after arsenic-free tube-wells have been installed they would talk to them.

      Many ponds have dried up here because of subsiding water table. The waters of the ponds in the union are also not safe for drinking as those are used for bathing, washing, etc. Sometimes people wash their cattle in the pond water. So, the water becomes dirty. The hazards of arsenic contaminated water are known to most of the people, but as arsenic is a silent killer, they do not take the problem seriously. Those who are not directly affected do not yet know the extent of the problem.

    • Water Cycle in Bangladesh

      Back to Content

      3. 1.2.4. Devil's Water - A film On Arsenic Problems (2001-5) of Ahmedpur Union. Pabna

      devils waterIn Bangladesh, where heat ravishes the land, local villagers drink at least twice as much water as in the United States. In the 1970s, an effort was made by aid agencies to provide potable non-surface water. UNICEF dug thousands of wells throughout the country. These wells inadvertently tapped into underground arsenic lines. In what is now considered one of the worst mass poisonings in human history, thousands of people in West Bengal and Bangladesh are suffering from arsenic poisoning from these contaminated water sources. Filmmaker Amirul Arham investigates how and why contamination occurred and documents why it persists today-as government and health organizations continue to fail to intervene.

      The national tragedy is seen through the eyes of Rekha, a young contaminated woman abandoned by her husband, and two young girls who were also contaminated. Amirul explores the struggle one village must overcome to treat the disease and rid the tainted water source from their community.
      THE DEVIL'S WATER taps into the complex world of international aid agencies through the perspective of ill-fated aid recipients. Three years in the making, it is a striking case study of the best of intentions gone awry and the power of even the most impoverished communities to rise up and challenge the global health system that has failed them (Nina Gilden Seavey, The French Embassy ),

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    • "I don't fear death. I am only afraid of the fate of my daughter and wife if I die"

      On 17 th June 2007 the most circulated bengal daily newspaper "Prthom Alo" brought the following news on deaths and suffering of villagers of Pabna district, although it is about a decade that The World Bank, UNICEF and other donors sponsered projects could not help the villasgers. The Independent writes those who can afford to flee can survive.

      3. 1.2.5. Several Deaths and Suffering in Pabna District:
      Government and NGOs Failed to Supply arsenic Free Water, June 17, 2007

      12 deaths due to drinking arsenic contaminated water in Suja Nagar, Ahmedpurunion, Pabna. When Mother Hossain (35) lost his four brothers and their children left Suganagar, Ujanpara five years ago. He has come back to Sujanagar after five years. But now every moment he is afraid, as if death is whispering.

      Hasina Begum (50), sister in law of mother, a serious arsenic patient as two of her children became sick (arsenic), she sent them elsewhere to save lives. Hasina said, "To save ones life, has to leave this village. There is no one in this village who is healthy. All the villages of Ahmedpur union facing the same arsenic probleme

      Jalaluddin, Chairman of Union reports that at least 20 died of arsenic and several hundreds are suffering. In Ahmedpur union there are about 3522 water wells (tubewells) but most of them contain a very high amount of arsenic. Many safe water wells were constructed by the Government and the NGOs, but these wells failed to deliver arsenic free water. And the villagers are forced to drink arsenic contaminated water

      Female members of the Union Khondokar Shahida and Hazera Begum informed thatAll the villages are at serious condition but more severe areas are Uzanpara in Syedpur, Doppara, Birahimpur, Dariapur, Ahmedpur, Sonatola and Durhapur villages. Arsenic patients are increasing day by day.

      Reporter (Barun Roy) surveyed the area but could not find any arrangement for safe water.

      Death is not the end
      Death can never be the end.

      There are several deaths due to arsenicosis such as Noor Jahan Begum of Ahmedpur, daughter Asma Khatun and Hashi Begum. Abdul Auwal of Biraimpur village lost his wife five years ago and now all the rest members of his family are arsenic patients. Awal complained that Union Parisad drlled a water well but in a few days it went out of order.

      Reporter found that Union Praishad and a NGO drlled a deep tube well, an arsenic removal plant and 165 dug wells. But within a few days went out of order - these did not benefit the villagers.

      Source: Barun Roy, Daily Prothom Alo, July 17, 2007

      asma khatunI am, indeed, surprised to see the advertisement of Shaplafilter. I checked many Shapplafilters in the villages but none produces arsenic free water

      The Shapla Filter: Relief from Arsenic Poisoning

      "Give us pure drinking water.
      But don't give us only advise"

      Just remembering the extreme sufferings and extinct of the young lives like Rekha, Asma, Saleha, Hashi and many others in the land of Rabinranath Tagore, who writes; :

      those distant villages used to appear, like dark green clouds. To-day the whole of the wood is visible. Land and water are gradually approaching each other like two bashful lovers. The limit of their shyness has nearly been reached their arms will soon be round each other's necks. I shall enjoy my trip along this brimful river at the height of the rains.

      "I know that the day will come when my sight of this earth shall
      be lost, and life will take its leave in silence, drawing the
      last curtain over my eyes.

      Yet stars will watch at night, and morning rise as before, and
      hours heave like sea waves casting up pleasures and pains.

      When I think of this end of my moments, the barrier of the
      moments breaks and I see by the light of death thy world with its
      careless treasures." -Tagore

      What I want to say - is it not possible to do something for the suffering of the Tagore's generations?

      Ah, these jasmines, these white jasmines!
      I seem to remember the first day when I filled my hands
      with these jasmines, these white jasmines.

      I have loved the sunlight, the sky and the green earth;
      I have heard the liquid murmur of the river
      through the darkness of midnight;
      Autumn sunsets have come to me at the bend of the road
      in the lonely waste, like a bride raising her veil
      to accept her lover.
      Yet my memory is still sweet with the first white jasmines
      that I held in my hands when I was a child.

      Many a glad day has come in my life,
      and I have laughed with merrymakers on festival nights.

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      3. 2. Women's Project

      displaced frm home- slum women displced and helpless women- carrying contaminated flood water

      A recent Human Development Report in Bangladesh estimated that 59% of girls suffer chronic malnutrition and the number of girls dying before age 5 is 11% higher than the number of boys. The United Nations Development Programme estimates that 58% of pregnant women (15-49) suffer from anaemia and only 5% of births are attended by a healthcare professional.

      Women alone are responsible for collecting water. The values, wisdom and sacrifice of rural woman in Bangladesh are imperfectly understood. This project intends to further the social and cultural status of women.We found almost every where in rural villages that if woman earns extra income, her social status accelerates to establish a leading role in health, education to children and husband begins to respect her status. Even minimal increases in a woman's ability to generate income has not only been seen to reduce the mental and physical torture of women, in many cases it has stopped altogether.


    • Search for our heritage to recapture the sense of social, cultural and ecological harmony.
    • Societies need to 'co-evolve' with local environments and culture, choosing appropriate technologies and creating social institutions that permit the environment to sustain society indefinitely.
    • Each culture must retrieve within its vision of loving relations with soil, air and water of Earth. Necessary for all cultures to be aware of the existence of ethnocentrism and to school themselves to accept a world with diversity of value systems.
    • To support traditional simplism, humanism and secular thoughts that developed over centuries.
    • To promote traditional social bonds through permanent groups of shared community
    • To support shared community where human aspect of living.
    • To reintroduce lost traditional heritage that raises position of woman in society.
    • To support woman not to leave village in quest of job in the city or abroad.

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      3. 2. 1.Micro-credit and rural women

      Only 26% of nearly 62 million women are literate. Rural women have even greater difficulty because of ongoing disasters, which can have devastating effects on already fragile lives. Because of legal discrimination and high illiteracy rates, women have little access to credit and few inheritance rights under the law. Rural women face even worse conditions in Bangladesh because of the little access to land, which is key to economic and political power (only 5% of government positions are held by women). Because of illiteracy, women's opportunities for improving their status are extremely limited.

      High interest rate on micro-credit is one of the main obstacles to women empowerment in the country, economist Wahiduddin Mahmud said yesterday. He said the cost of disbursement, supervision and monitoring of microcredit increases the rate of interest on such credit received mostly by rural women.Prof Wahiduddin suggested setting up of a foundation to simplify the microcredit operation. "This will also help your empowerment," he told the women entrepreneurs. He however said he had attempted to cut the interest rate of microcredit but failed when he was in Bangladesh Bank and Palli Karma Shahayk Foundation (Daily Star, May 28, 2004).

      While setting arsenic free well at Lal Miah's house, Char Hazari Union, Noakhali, on May 12, 2004 we were surprised to see a big gathering of women quarrelling with Grammen Bank's representative. The women said, "We want to pay the whole debt as the interest rate is very high, but the representative does not want to receive it. He wants only the instalment!" We found all over the country many poor are unable to pay such high rate instalments (about 25-28% effective interest).

      We noticed that women get very nervous, when the date of payment of installment appears. We advised the women to take credit only from the organisation that give low interest rate for example the World Vision but does not exist every where. Besides the big NGOs set committes and it is impossible to chose an organisation.

      One of the complaints frequently made by women was that the cost of credit from the NGOs was very high and should be brought down. The other main complaint was that the loan given was very small, with the concomitant demand that the loan limit should be increased.

      The NGOs justify this high rate of interest on the basis of the high cost of supervision of microcredit [Ahammed 2003]. The cost of supervision of small loans with weekly repayments is certainly higher than it is in the usual commercial bank loans. But what is also true is that NGOs, for instance in the IFAD project that we are studying, and generally in donor-funded projects, are paid a substantial part, if not all, of the administrative costs directly by the project, which funds the staff needed for the microcredit component. Therefore, when NGOs are paid most of their administrative costs by donors and collect the equivalent of these costs from the loanees, the NGOs are remunerated twice for the same costs.

      Since the NGOs do not have shareholders they do not distribute dividends but accumulate the surplus as their own capital. What this means is the emergence of a new kind of corporation – one that does earn a surplus but does not distribute profits and thus can have a high rate of accumulation, allowing NGOs to expand their microcredit and other economic activities. It is because they do not have shareholders that NGOs can accumulate their surpluses (Govind Kelkar, Dev Nathan, Rownok Jahan, EPW, August 7, 2004).

      The contributors advance economic rationale for high or appropriate interest rate - e.g. viability of MCIs: mobilize and building up resource base. These do not meet the criticism which originates in the perceived role of microcredit as a philanthropic activity and the discriminatory interest rate policy of government. The philanthropic perception maintains that there should not be any interest on microcredit; and if any, it must be modest - not more than what many others pay. Government extends policy-based concessional loan to export, agro-processing, the thrust sectors, and so on. Poverty alleviation is at the top of government’s policy as well as that of the donors. The recognition of the discrimination is compelling, whatever the justification.

      The practices of MCIs (Micro Credit Institutions) are partly responsible. MCIs charge interest at flat rate; deduct it every week / fortnight on straight line and not declining balance; and take the compulsory saving when loan is disbursed. The actual interest is much higher than the effective interest on the nominal rate. Iqbal Ahmad shows how the interest calculation ratchets up: for 25% higher interest, a NGO collects 100% more in interest payments than a bank (Independent. October 8, 2004: Edited by Salehuddin Ahmed & M.A. Hakim, Published by The University Press Limited with Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation, Dhaka, 2004, ).

      Impact of micro-credit

      Some of the micro-borrowers in Bangladesh have benefited in certain respects. A lot of them are struggling under the stringent terms of credit including high cost of borrowing and a weekly repayment schedule starting a week after a credit is taken. Many have gone further into indebtedness and face a bleak future. The micro-borrowers face the threat of expulsion and confiscation of their assets when they fail to pay up weekly installments; and some have in fact had their meagre assets confiscated when they failed to pay up. This threat is in effect collateral.

      Very little empowerment has been achieved by the women micro-borrowers. Often, they are simply the conduit for some money coming into the family. Only about 10 per cent of the female respondents have indicated that they are in full control of and manage the economic activities undertaken with micro-credit.

      A large majority of the micro-credit households have remained condemned to a lowly and subservient state of living. The main culprits for this state of affairs include the glaring and accentuating socio-economic disparity and worsening iniquitous power relations in the country, neither of which is addressed or even recognised by the micro-credit institutions (MCIs).

      These are some of the major findings thrown up by this study which is based on a country-wide rurally representative sample survey conducted during January-February 2006. It is now even more important today, as Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have jointly been awarded 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, that the pitfalls of micro-credit operations are properly recognised and addressed. The study strongly suggests that for meaningful and sustained poverty reduction, a comprehensive approach, commensurate with the complex nature of poverty and the prevailing social dynamics is necessary. Micro-credit with less stringent terms can be one of the key elements within the framework of such a comprehensive approach (Holiday, May 18, 2007).

      The hard-core poor are left out

      Findings of the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) show that neither the government nor the NGO programmes are well targeted. The NGO outreach is often regarded as limited and fragmented, which largely excludes the extreme poor. Some of these limitations are the outcome of weak institutional capacity while others are conditioned by low replication potential, e.g. good leadership, which is not often found in government agencies or even in many NGOs. There is a growing concern that targeted programmes of both the government and the non-government sectors have excluded the hard-core poor.

      For example, about four-fifths of the GB loans are disbursed against schemes on agriculture, livestock, processing and manufacturing, etc., with certain gestation period (several months or more). These activities do not fit with the conditions that require repayment of the principal and the interest in weekly instalments. Similarly, about half of the NGO credit is disbursed to activities with long gestation and is probably used by the ‘better-off poor’. This is evident from the micro-credit programme of BRAC where only 15 per cent of total credit disbursed in 1996-2000 went to the extreme poor.

      It is logical to assume that those who can repay the loan in weekly instalments have access to other sources of income and are presumably ‘surplus’ in the context of mass poverty and impoverishment. This means, NGO credit for self-employment programmes presumes possession of basic assets on the part of the intended beneficiaries, including social and financial skills and stable habitation. Such programmes seem to encourage the relatively skilled and stable segment within the poor to put themselves forward and thus become the programme beneficiaries. This leaves out the extreme poor. However, there is a growing awareness among few NGOs about the exclusion of the ultra poor from their orbit. A recent BRAC study identified the following factors responsible for non-participation of the extreme poor:

      Some of the most vulnerable and poor did not join any NGO because they were concerned about not being able to make regular savings deposits or timely loan instalments.

      Following the misappropriation of funds by some local NGOs, some poor people decided not to join any NGO group, as they had been cheated before. Some did not joint because of high interest rates charged on loans.

      Investment in social sectors

      The investment potential of the ‘poor’ is negligible or nil. They have neither human capital (education, skill and health) nor physical capital (land, cash and equipment). Thus two conditions need to be addressed properly for alleviation or eradication of poverty. First is to create productive assets for the poor and the second is to translate the output growth into their income. Investment in the social sectors can, to a greater extent, generate productive assets for the poor and create conditions under which poor can participate and take advantage of the growth process (M. Ahmed, October 29, 2006).

      Microcredit aftermath of Cyclone Sidr Nov. 2007

      khatchariaKHATACHIRA, Bangladesh, Nov. 20 Ruth Fremson/The New York Times — The wind whipped through the sky. The river swelled above the tree line. And in a flash, Mamataz Begum’s youngest child, barely 2 years old, was swept from her arms, as a tidal wave smashed through the fragile mud homes of this village and scooped up everything in its watery arms.
      In this hamlet on the southernmost fringe of Bangladesh, cut by rivers that empty into the Bay of Bengal, nothing was spared by the cyclone that ripped through here last Thursday. Barely a single house was standing; they were all made of mud and they simply collapsed into the earth. The meager food stocks of the village had washed away. Fishing boats and nets, a principal source of income here, were gone. The paddies had filled up with brackish water, which meant there would be no harvest.

      On Tuesday, animal carcasses, stinking and bloated, lay scattered along the river bank. There was no drinking water left. A small bag of food from the government, the sole aid so far for this village of about 1,000 families, had run out. The people of Khatachira are a testament to the bittersweet blessings of the latest natural calamity to befall Bangladesh. Relatively speaking, the death toll from the cyclone was small — some 3,167 according to the latest official count, roughly double the death toll of Hurricane Katrina but far less than the 140,000 killed in 1991 after the last cyclone hit Bangladesh. In large measure, that was because of an early warning system that had announced the storm and had urged people to head to shelters.

      But in claiming relatively few lives, it left many more people in utter ruin. The government estimates that about four million people have been affected. “The crisis is just beginning,” said Suman Islam, humanitarian assistance coordinator with the aid agency Care, which had sent its first relief assessment team here Tuesday afternoon. “We have saved lives. But now, the challenge is the same.”

      In Khatachira, near the edge of the Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, villagers have so far buried 57 of their own, nearly half of them children under age 10. Many probably died because they could not swim or cling to trees. On Tuesday morning another body, that of a local woman, was found in the bush of a neighboring village; she had yet to be brought home for burial. All but seven people had been accounted for. An old man who lost his entire family was searching for the bodies of his two grandchildren. Another old man said his granddaughter, age 8, was still missing. A woman with a hideous gash on her right foot — from a piece of tin roofing that fell and sliced her skin — said four in her family had been killed, and five were left to carry on.

      The nearest cyclone shelter was about two and a half miles away, and it had swelled well past capacity by the time most people in this village were ready to evacuate. One woman even went to the shelter, went home after it seemed that the storm was not coming, and was killed.

      “See over there, that was our house,” said Muhammad Himayat, pointing at an open stretch of paddy. The house is gone, along with two dozen goats, two cows and three fishing boats that together were the family’s livelihood. “It is all river now.” This is what the villagers said among themselves:
      “Where’s Salem?” one man asked.
      “He lost his son,” someone responded.
      “Has the grandson been found?”
      “No.” The government has appealed for international aid and in a rare gesture, opened its visa gates to foreigners, including journalists. Officials said relief workers and the military had reached the last remaining pockets of the devastated areas on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

      But food supplies remained woefully inadequate. “Hundreds of hands go up to grab just one food packet,” said a relief worker in the Patuakhali district. The day after the cyclone, villagers here had hoisted red flags at the edge of the hamlet. Aid workers had been slow to arrive but those who had were besieged by villagers, who knew that only in narrating their losses could they expect to gain anything.

      On the edge of the water, near a tree whose roots were barely hanging onto the earth, stood a couple of cooking pots — remnants of Mamataz Begum’s kitchen. Her son’s body had washed up in another village, and they brought his corpse here. Her other children survived. Her husband broke his leg as he swam through the waves. On Tuesday, she was still dazed, and had no idea where the family’s next meal would come from. “If God will feed us, we will eat,” she said.


      With a vision of "a just, enlightened, healthy and democratic Bangladesh free from hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and all forms of exploitation based on age, sex, religion and ethnicity," BRAC started as an almost entirely donor funded, small-scale relief and rehabilitation projet to help the country overcome the devastation and trauma of the Liberation War. Today, BRAC has emerged as an independent, virtually self-financed paradigm in sustainable human development. It is the largest in the world employing 97,192 people, with the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor. Through experiential learning, BRAC today provides and protects livelihoods of around 100 million people in Bangladesh. Diagnosing poverty in human terms and recognising its multidimensional nature, BRAC approaches poverty alleviation with a holistic approach. BRAC's outreach covers all 64 districts of the country and furthermore, has been called upon to assist a number of countries including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

      BRAC continues extensive cyclone relief operations 150,000 families to be reached with emergency relief

      BRAC kills and hangs a Rickshapuller Abdur Rashid(55) because of non-payment of debt

      Daily Inqulab writes from village Choudogram, Commilla (September 23, 2008). BRAC employees kidnapped the ricksha puller Abdur Rasihd and tortured him two days. Abdur Rashid's wife took 25,000 Tk debt from BRAC. When he was dead, he was hanged on a tree. Influential quarters of the area trying to hide the truth. People of Choudogram demanding for justice.

      DHAKA, BANGLADESH, 21 November 2007 – BRAC is carrying out extensive relief operations in 2,537 villages in 60 worst affected upazilas across 11 districts of Bangladesh. More than 2,500 BRAC staff and 13 medical teams are engaged in providing round-the-clock relief and medical care to the victims. Immediately following the cyclone, BRAC launched its emergency relief programme, initially allocating Tk. 7 crore.


      BRAC Micro Credit and the Victims of Cyclone Sidr


      We all know about the severe tidal surges in the coastal area of Bangladesh . Now those who took microcredits are hunted by the "money collectors" to pay installments. BRAC is the largest NGO in Bngladesh and its Chairman has obtained highest prize by Bill Clinton Foundation.

      Mahmuda Begum of North Palardi village, subdistrict Gauronadi, took loan of Tk. 10, 000 (100 EUR) from BRAC to buy rickshawa-van. The whole family use to live on the income of ricksha-van pulled by her husband Sohrab. But during the SIDR storm his house and ricksha-van were totally destroyed. Now Mahmuda can not pay her installment but the BRAC agent terrorize the woman, and if she fails they will be handed over to police. Mahmuda with many difficulties selling her day to day essential cooking pots gathered Tk 280 and paid the installment. In the same village Nazrul haider's wife is also faceing the same probleme. About 30, 000 people have credit from 15 NGOs..

      MICRO CREDIT - Organisations get Money from Abroad in the Name of Poverty Alleviation

      Village women say,"We are running the whole day to collect food: And at night we cannot sleep because of the credit. Now after the storm we want to get relive from credit. But no NGOs granted the credit as a grant although they are suffering to die (Amardesh, November 24, 2007)

      Small borrowers face debt mountain after cyclone

      Amtola Village, Barguna: Bilkis Begum checks her rice threshing machine at her devastated house in Amtola village of cyclone-affected Barguna. Photo: AFP Nearly 20 years ago when small loans from the Nobel peace prize winning Grameen bank first became available in her village, Bilkis Begum wasted no time in signing up.

      bilkisFrom 1985 she took out loans to start a small shop, buy a rice threshing machine and a betel leaf farm. Hard work and a shrewd business sense brought her success after success. But like thousands of other borrowers, Bilkis, 40, is facing financial ruin after the devastating November 15 cyclone which has left her destitute and worried about her outstanding debts.

      "My businesses were all very successful, but now I have lost everything," she said, estimating the worth of her small enterprises at between Tk 500,000 and Tk 700,000. "Everything is lost and all the improvements we made are gone," she said, gesturing toward her ruined village, which lies 200 kilometres south of Dhaka.

      Bilkis survived the cyclone-powered tidal wave that engulfed the village by climbing a tree and is now struggling to find food for her family. With nothing left but the clothes she stands up in, she knows she will be unable to keep up the payments on her outstanding debt of Tk 80,000.

      "I want the outstanding loan to be cancelled. I have nothing. We have all lost everything," she said, fighting back tears. Since it was set up, Grameen bank, which last year jointly won the Nobel peace prize with founder Muhammad Yunus, is credited with lifting millions of impoverished people out of extreme poverty.

      Yunus's pioneering microfinance concept has been copied around the globe and Grameen Bank currently has more than six million borrowers in Bangladesh, of whom 97 percent are women. But despite the massive problems facing cyclone survivors, Yunus, who toured the area around Bilkis's village on Friday to assess the damage, told the news agency that cancelling outstanding debt was impossible.

      Although keen to do all he can to help, he said money would inevitably have to be repaid at some point. "Grameen bank has been around for 31 years and this is not the first time that there have been disasters," he said.

      "We cannot cancel the debts. If we cancelled now, every time something happened, a house fire or whatever, then people would be looking to cancel their loans." Instead, the bank, which is often criticised for the high interest rates it charges, will offer all cyclone-affected members interest-free loans of up to Tk 10,000 to rebuild their homes.

      In addition they will be given as much time as they needed to pay off their old debts while new loans will be offered to help them start again. "We are telling people that they will be able to repay whenever they can. We can push the loans back for as long as people need," he said.

      Bilkis estimates she will not be able to even think about re-starting her payments for at least 12 months. "I need at least a one-year break from instalments. Then I can maybe get back on my feet."

      Monwara Begum, another resident of the village of 3,000 where 20 people died in the cyclone, recently took a Tk 15,000 loan. She too would like to see the debt cancelled. The cyclone, which killed at least 3,400 people and left countless more without food, water and shelter, has pushed her to the limit. For days since the disaster, villagers have been surviving on water from a pond filled with dead cattle.

      "How am I supposed to pay back my loan?" she asked angrily. "The Grameen Bank has made profits from the interest we pay. We have also benefited, (but) I am telling the truth when I say I have nothing left." (Daily Star, November 24, 2007)

      Rich people does not pay back the the credit if the business fails. But the poor has to pay, even if they die!

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      3. 1. 2. Women and Child Trafficking in Bangladesh

      Bangladesh is one of the countries in the world in which the rate of trafficking is very high . Because of the hidden nature of this crime of trafficking, reliable statistics are hard to come out . Despite efforts to check human trafficking at various levels, between 10,000 and 20,000 women and children are trafficked from Bangladesh every year. Girls from villages are trafficked, the majority of whom are under 18 years who are trafficked for $ 1000 and are sold to brothels / prostitution for sex industry. Human trafficking is not confined only to the sex industry. In Bangladesh children (aged about 4 to 15 years) are also largely trafficked:

      • To work in the " Three D - Jobs" , i.e. dirty , difficult and dangerous as bonded or forced labour ;
      • To use the body parts of children, such as Kidney etc.
      • To send them to Arab Gulf countries for using them as drivers for " Camel Jockeys ( Race )" , where they face a life of danger , misery and loneliness

      Causes of Trafficking in Bangladesh:

      • Poverty of the victims;
      • Gender discriminatory social protection in Bangladesh;
      • Lack of good social protection scheme , for example , lack of awareness to the public at large.
      • Lack of good governance and policy of the Government;
      • Flexibility in the enforcement of the existing laws and policies ;
      • Collapse of the Garment industries in Bangladesh after September , 2001.

      Results of trafficking:

      • End result for the victims of trafficking is abusive and harmful such as:
      • Trafficked persons mental and physical loss ;
      • Trafficked persons , when she is a women , are not socially well - treated when they are rescued from the trafficking area ;
      • Spread of HIV / AIDS among the victims who are trafficked into prostitutions.

      We met several victims and many in rural villages willing to send their children for a so called "better life". Public information against trafficking is not enough; unwritten chain maintained among the traffickers and law enforcing agencies of Bangladesh. In many cases we could stop such transfer but until mass awareness, good governance and emancipation from poverty occur, human trafficking will continue.

      Human trafficking on alarming rise thru' 14 border points of 6 dists 700 smuggled out in 15 months

  • KUSHTIA: Incidents of trafficking of women and children rose alarmingly through 14 border points of six districts in southwestern region recently.

    rescue from bordel (r) 13 year oldThe districts are Khulna, Jhenidah, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Satkhira and Jessore. The NGO traced a few victims mostly women and children trafficked, but did not reveal their identities due to 'social barrier.' Fourteen women and children aged 6 to 30, narrowly escaped from traffickers after passing a period from three months to a year or more. Four of them worked as slaves in Pakistan for several years before their freedom. According to the NGO, strong syndicates involved in trafficking are active in different border points. The NGO identified Darshana in Chuadanga, Kaliganj in Jhenidah, Jhikorgachha in Jessore and Phultola in Khulna district as their strongholds.

    At least 700 persons mostly women and children had been trafficked from June, 2003 to September, 2004, according to the survey. They included male persons aged 30 to 50. Most of the trafficked women and children were sent to India and Middle East. Women victims were sold there as domestic help or sex worker, while children were sold as domestic help or jockey in Middle East, the survey said. The NGO said policemen lack training on anti-trafficking issue. Besides, border guards Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) do not take proper action to check trafficking. Moreover, there is no government initiative to control trafficking. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of job opportunity are the main causes behind human trafficking. Besides, non-implementation of anti-trafficking law is another cause of increased trafficking (A. Aman, Daily Star, December 7, 2004)

    Internet adds new dimension to trafficking of women, children

    Internet appears to have added a new dimension to trafficking of women and children in Bangladesh. Traffickers now abuse Internet at times to commit the crime. It is however going on a very limited scale, sources said. "Internet is now also used as a medium and an easy way of trafficking in Bangladesh. The traffickers use the women and girls as sex workers in brothels, theatres and cinemas or private houses," said Prof Ishrat Shamim, president of the Centre for Women and Children Studies (CWCS).

    Traffickers and their accomplices use Internet to exchange information on where to go and how to collect women and girls for prostitution, contact clients, and exchange pornographic images and videos, said the CWCS, a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Till now women of upper and upper middle class mainly have access to Internet, and traffickers using it target them. It is surprising that sometimes educated women also fall in their trap, it pointed out. Police estimate that more than 15 thousand women and children are trafficked out of Bangladesh every year. It is however not known how many are trafficked with the help of Internet, they said.

    "In Bangladesh, about 50 percent of trafficking takes place through 28 districts adjacent to Bangladesh-India border. But all trafficked women and children are not sent abroad. Trafficking also takes place within the country," said the Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, another NGO. Experts however say it is difficult to collect data on how many are trafficked what way. Even a large number of the victims are trafficked using family visas, and the use of Internet for trafficking is quite new in Bangladesh (M. Zannat Daily Star, December 8, 2004).

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    3. 2. 3. Hospitality of the villagers

    papaya - naher preparation serving rice cake

    We were surprised to receive the hospitality of the villagers. Almost every where we were offered coconut water, fruits, rice cakes and even lunch, although they are very poor. If we wanted to refuse, they said, "Sir, you don't want because we are poor!" There were no words to refuse. And with dialogue, we came to know more intimate problems of their life.

    3. 2. 4. Craft tradition and Collectivism

    palm leaf -mat, betbaria, FaridpurCraft tradition in Bangladesh provides a higher degree of representative and authentic historical explanation than any amount of oral and written information. In fact, for the majority of mankind the primary historical record of their lives is not written but hidden in innumerable artefacts. Folk art is characterised by traditionalism and collectivism, which is not a part of rapidly changing fashion. Our thousands of years of socio-cultural evolution and tradition, multi-religious product and also multiracial expression are going to perish day by day.

    Floating Sewing-Learning Schools

    Sewing Learn- ambikapur theoratical lesson practical training-betbaria

    certificates after completion of course- South Korean Ambassador giving certificate at Nashikataha center March 14, 2004.We found that poor women in rural areas cannot leave home, pay fees and travel expenses to attend sewing learning schools in district towns organized by the NGOs. We organized sewing machines and teacher in the rural villages. About two hundred fifty rural women successfully completed sewing course in the following villages:

    1. Village Betbaria
    2. Village Kuzurdia
    3. Village Tambulkhana
    4. Village Ambikapur
    5. Village Vashan Char

    We are surprise to see that a small investment increased the self reliance, social status and job opportunity etc.

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    3. 1. 5. Embroidered Quilt Centre (Nari Nakshi Kataha Center) at Ambikapur Kantha (Quilt) -   A product of a non-literate society

    Culture is learned as a child, and as children we each learned from those around us a particular set of rules, beliefs, priories and expectations that moulded our world into a meaningful whole. Faridpur, Jessore and Khulna districts have had their own folk art evolution through time-space factor. Once center of Hindu culture these regions, during 12th century came under influences of Vaisnavism and Suifism making rapid changes in all folk art expressions. They learned to respect each other's religious faith and life.

    The Tree of LifeThe story the kantha is rooted in the history, culture, civilization of Bangladesh since thousands of years The art of kantha embroidery carries a language that is universal, drawing from the well of mankind's primitive and traditional art knowledge, and giving to the world a priceless cultural heritage.Kantha (Quilt) is a product of a non-literate society with psychological and cultural tradition of Bangladesh.

    Aesthetic and sociological heritage of kanrhas art may have inspired alpana, terracotta, mat, weaving, wood carving, textile, peetha (rice cake) patterns, architecture, carpets etc. Tree of Life quilt focuses delineating on its ancient role in mankind's magico-ritualistic, spiritual and moral history, its prominent position in monotheist religions and its absorption into folk art. Decorative Folk Art as seen in kanthan is the best proof of the integration of inherited aesthetics in the hand of the woman folk artist. The result, a thrilling extravaganza of folk symbols, stiched into the vibrant surface of embroidered wraps and spread by women of village communities, irrespective of their religious beliefs.


    Quest for a non-exploiting target

    Nakshi Kanthan Emboderied Quilt has now acquired popularity both in Bangladesh and abroad. BRAC, the largest NGO of Bangladesh sells Nakshi Kanthan At Dhaka and abroad. We bought a piece at Tk. 350/, produced by "Association Working Women of Kustia" (Khustia Sramogibi Mahila Samiti) district, from Arong, a BRAC selling centre. We just wanted to visit how this association makes such a wonderful quilt. It was a long troublesome enquiry that we at last found this society. To our great surprise, we found that the women who produce quilt receive only Tk. 65/ for the same item that we bought!

    Poor women are transforming their lives

    Mabia, a housewife-tuned-businesswoman, makes at least two business trips a month to capital Dhaka from her base in Chapainawabganj. Known as Nakshi Kantha Mabia for her business in the embroidered quilt, she travels to Dhaka to supply products such as embroidered quilt, bed cover, cushion cover and dress and take new orders from stores.

    "The business is good," says Mabia, founder owner of Mahila Karma Sahayak Sangstha, where she has employed a few other women. By Bangladesh standard, she says, she has a booming business. She is right. Not long ago stitching nakshi kantha was only a hobby for her. But a decision in 1998 changed her life forever. That year she borrowed Tk. 4,000 from a neighbour to start her first business and she is now the owner of a small company. She is now an entrepreneur, small though.

    Mabia recalls the days when she had to worry about feeding a jobless husband, four girls and a son. Those were the days when the family had sometimes went to bed without having meals. Mabia has been among many Bangladeshi women who have skills, but are unable to make those business tools. She has broken off from the other women and turned her hobby into an enterprise.

    Shamsuddin Ahmed, a professor at Dhaka University's Economics Department, says small and cottage enterprises run by poor women do not make a big impact on the nation economy. However, their income is a big help to run their families. Many say such poor women should get national recognition (News Network, 2003)


    Our women training centres in several villages are so succesful that we have decides to continue it. About 500 students have learned sewing and we are proud to annonce many of them became independent even created new jobs which not only raised social status but independent thinking. Education and training are the most powerful elements of social change than lending money. The following are pictures of successful and proud women of our project:

    proud women women

    We spent a very little money but it is overwhelming to see how it can effect the whole life. We are proud to present:

    gita nila shaeen

    And many more at the remote villages of Bangladesh.

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    3. 2. 6. By the Women for the Women

    Sincere and hard working by these neglected women made it possible to open the Center
    Renu- leader of the worker, abondoned by the husband- our worker Shova- abondoned by the husband- our worker Farida, abondoned by the husband- our worker Mother from Shamima Priti, cannot hear, abondoned by the husband- our worker Sona, a devotional singer

    Sincere and hard working by these neglected women made it possible to open the Center

    hard wirking by the womenWe intended to set training and selling centre in a village, where all the profits will go to the working women. As soon as we intended to set this centre, we decided to employ women for the work. The male group warned us that this will be very costly and it will be delayed by slow and lazy work. Renu, abandoned by her husband, took the leadership to complete this job. To our great surprise, we saved one third of the expenses, if we had employed male worker.

    Opening of the Centre, March 2004.Now this centre has been opened at Ambikapur, Faridpur. "Nari Nashi katha Center" is run by the rural women. This is a long way that they will be able to be successful. But we think this will be a sustainable project, where it is more than protest against exploitation but creating a social institution that permits to sustain society indefinitely, and allowing protecting thousands of years of socio-cultural evolution and tradition, multi-religious product and also multi-racial expression.

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    3. 3. ARSENIC AND DISEASE FREE WATER FOR ABOUT RURAL POOR Faridpur and Noakhali Districts

    Faruque, seriously suffering from As contamination80 million people at arsenic risk in Bangladesh M. Bhuiyan (Minister in charge Arsenic Mitigation) tells parliament UNB, Dhaka, June 14, 2004. More and more people are affected as new areas are discovered. It is difficult to predict how many Bangladeshis will eventually die from causes related to the arsenic. Most researchers, including Dr. Smith, are shy with estimates. Richard Wilson, a Harvard physicist who is an expert in risk analysis, puts the number at one million. Dr. Sk. Ahktar Ahmad, a public health specialist with the Government, predicts a total of three million to five million (New York Times, 14. 7 02).

    Faridpur and Noakhali districts are worst arsenic affected areas of Bangladesh

    2005-drilling-faridpurAfter a few years of continued low level of arsenic exposure, many skin ailments appears i.e. Hypopigmentation (white spot), Hyperpigmentation (dark spots), collectively called Melanosis and keratosis (breakup of the skins and on hands and feet).

    • After a letency of 10 years, skin cancers appear.
    • After a latency of 29-30 years, internal cancers - particularly bladder and lung. These all have been seen in Taiwan and in Chilie
    • The number of cancers expected in Bangladesh from the exposure already undergone can be very roughly estimated by using "defalut" (lower exposure of 0. 05 ppm (Bangladesh standard) - the risk 1 %) there are 20,000, 000 to 70, 000, 000 exposed persons at levels between 0. 05 ppm and 0.5 ppm.

    "Another unfortunate and complicating fact about arsenic poisoning," Hiroki Hashizume adds, "is that it generally takes from seven to 10 years sometimes longer, for the disease to be recognized. When it finally is, it may be too late to treat." Professor Robert Goyer, who headed a nine-member commission of the US National Academies of Science, says its findings bolster a 1999 study by the Academy that found that men and women who drink every day water with 10 ppb of arsenic have an increased risk of more than 3 in 1000 of developing bladder or lung cancer during their lifetime. That risk rises to 7 in 1000 at 20 ppb.

    According to the National Research Council: "Variability in arsenic metabolism appears to be important in understanding the human response. There is evidence that methylating capacity differs among individuals and population groups. Different capacities would result in variations in tissue concentrations of arsenic. Also, environmental factors, particularly diet, might be important in explaining susceptibility." (National Research Council,1999).

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    3. 3. 1. Treatment of arsenicosis sufferers

  • It is suggested that the first stage in treating those with arsenicosis should be the immediate cessation of consumption of arsenic contaminated water.
  • Once this has been achieved the emphasis should be on the provision of a diet high in protein (preferably meat) and vitamins, to aid the methylation of inorganic arsenic in the body.
  • The chelating agents DMPS (dimercaptopropane sulphonate) and DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid) are recommended as treatment drugs

    We provided water containing arsenic far below standard and advised villagers for cheap alternatives:

    Emblica Emblic Myrobalan Bengali Amloki:

    imliEmblica Emblic Myrobalan Bengali Amloki fresh or dried fruits of this tree are used as laxative and in treatment of enlarged liver, piles, stomach complain, pain in eyes etc. It is a very rich source of vitamin C. Certain experiments on patients of pulmonory tuberculosis showed that vitamin C of Emblica fruits is more quickly assimilated in human system than synthetic vitamin C. Flowers, roots and bark of the tree are also medicinal, seeds are reported to cure asthma and stomach disorder (S. K. Jain, 2001).This fruit is a great asset for the arsenic patients. Instead of taking expensive imported tablets, Embelic is very cheap and more effective and every one can grow the plant at home.

    Haldi- Turmeric- Curcuma long


  • Curcumin, in tumeric, is an anti-inflammatory component that is helpful for arthritis. It not only helps with rheumatoid arthritis but it improves morning stiffness, the ability to walk for long intervals and is beneficial in diminishing joint swelling.

    • Tumeric has antibacterial making it ideal for healing wounds. In cases of acne Turmeric can be made into a poultice and applied to the affected area or taken internally As an anti-fungal, it can be used for Athlete's Foot by making a paste. When combined with Ginger, it can be used for ringworm
    • Liver protection is another of its marvelous qualities. Tumeric stimulates the flow of bile, lessening the possibility of gallstones. If one is exposed to environmental toxins, (and who isn't), Turmeric will help break down the harmful substances. Chemotherapy patients and those consuming alcohol benefit from this wonderful herb. It has also been used to clear up diarrhea/dysentery. People suffering from Hepatitis C also rely on Turmeric for its beneficial effects on the liver.
    • Anti-cancer activity, as shown in Rutgers University, research demonstrates it is the curcumin in Turmeric that helps prevent tumor development in their animal studies. Similar studies advocate Tumeric for limiting growth of already formed tumors and may have the potential to deter other cancers such as breast, skin, stomach and colon.
    • Turmeric has found to be antioxidant, antibacterial, anticoagulant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. While there are very few contraindications, too much of anything is not a good thing.

    Bangladeshi jute (Corchorus capsularis, Corchorus olitorius) leaf as medicine

    juteTwo species of jute (Corchorus capsularis and Corchorus olitorius) are being cultivated in Bangladesh. Capsularis (deshi) has maximum use as vegetable thanOlo itorius (Tossa) due to its bitter taste. Jute leaves are being used as vegetables in Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh for a long time. Besides, it is also used as herbal medicine to control or prevent dysentery, worm and constipation etc. Jute leaves are being used as health-food in Japan. Jute leave is rich in vitamins, carotinoids, calcium, potassium and dietary fibers. Jute leaf contains antitumor promoters; Phytol and Monogalactosyl-diacylglycerol. reduce risk of cancer. Fresh twigs (edible portion) of 30 days old seedling of both the genotypes contain Protein, Fibre, Alkaloid, Carotene and Vitamin C.

    During our project work at village Kuzurdia, Faridpur we observed three deaths in one month (July 2003).This was not reported in any news paper. All these people were drinking arsenic contaminated water above 500µg/l. There are many patients in this village. We found that there is a shallow layer that contains arsenic below standard. We made arsenic free tubewells, dug well and distributed clay pot filters to the affected people. This positive results can be seen in all villages where we mitigated with the positive response and cooperation from the villagers.

    Arsenic patients who obtained the benefit of our projects are returning to normal life. Those who were suffering from arsenicosis or hyperpigmentation just switching to arsenic free water and cheap herbs returning to normal skin. We also sent serious patients to doctors.

    Home Garden - To Save Herbs and Traditional Plants from Extinction

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    3. 3. 2 Quest for uncontaminated aquifers

    2005- FaridpurThe most affected aquifers lie beneath the Meghna floodplains (Noakhali, Comilla) of southeast Bangladesh and the Ganges floodplains (Faridpur, Khustia, Chapai Nababganj) middle-west Bangladesh. Much of Bangladesh is characterised by a two-aquifer system:

    • A shallow aquifer typically extending from less than 10 metres to more than 100 metres below ground level, and a deeper aquifer below about 200 metres.
    • A surface layer of silty clay forms a semi-confining layer and a lower clay layer sometimes separates the shallow and deep aquifers. In much of southern Bangladesh, the situation is more complex with a division of the shallow aquifer into two by a low permeability silt-clay layer.

    Seismic refraction survey data from the western part of the Ganges delta Bangladesh showed the existence of a series of stacked channels containing coarse-grained sediments depths greater than 500 meter. These could form future sources of deep groundwater within that area..

    Ground water Flow

    Present groundwater movement is very slow because of the extremely low hydraulic gradients found in the delta region. Except where modified by pumping, groundwater circulation is largely confined to the shallow layers affected by local topographic features and the presence of rivers. Close to rivers, the enhanced groundwater flow may lead to a greater dispersion of arsenic along river banks.

    Under typical groundwater gradients, the timescale to replace the groundwater within an aquifer is of the order of tens of thousands of years. Modelling of the Faridpur aquifer indicated that percentages of flow to the deep aquifer (taken to be greater than 130 m depth) can vary by as much as three times (4-12%) depending on the distribution of hydraulic properties of the sediment profile. Lithological information from the borehole log obtained for Faridpur suggests that, unlike elsewhere in Bangladesh, there is not an extensive, well-defined aquitard layer between the shallow and deep aquifer (BGS, DPHE, 2001).

    Lithology Permeability (m/d)
    Silt-clay -
    Very fine sand 9
    Fine sand 12
    Fine - medium sand 20-35
    Medium sand 54
    Coarse sand 60-70

    Water Chemistry

    Generally ground water is fresh (electrolytic conductivity less than 2 000 µS/cm). Bicarbonate is dominated anion in fresh waters, but a trend towards increasing chloride in some aquifers. Sulphate is generally absent. Silica constitutes 20-30 mg/l. The more detailed chemical data confirm that the waters are anoxic with high concentrations of dissolved ammonium in Faridpur. Many groundwaters also frequently contained high concentrations of phosphorus (median 0.3 mg P L-1, High iron concentrations were widespread but were particularly common in the groundwaters. The principal iron mineral observed was low-titanium magnetite. Other rarer iron-containing minerals observed included titanomagnetite, ilmenite-magnetite composite grains, and ilmenite-hematite intergrowths. There was a poor overall correlation between iron and arsenic concentrations, although locally significant positive correlations existed.

    There was also abundant mica, particularly in the samples from Noakhali and also from Faridpur, showed the sediments were in all respects typical alluvial and deltaic sediments. The highest arsenic concentrations were found in some of the most reducing groundwaters and suggest that the development of reducing conditions is a major factor controlling the mobilisation of arsenic.

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    3. 3. 3. Unique and differing stratigraphies found within the delta system

    A compilation of new and existing borehole data from the Ganges Brahmaputra delta unveiled a late Quaternary history controlled by immense river sediment discharge, tectonic activity, and eustasy. The most significant elements are:

    • Initial development 2000 - 3000 years earlier than most of the world's delta systems.
    • Relative shoreline stability during early Holocene sea level rise.
    • Trapping of a considerable portion of the sediment load to inland tectonic basins.

    Bangladesh is a unique location in respect to its geological environment. The British Geological Survey and foreign donors since 1999 considered shallow aquifers are arsenic contaminated and advocated for deep drilling and expensive arsenic separation units. But Bengal delta is different than any other deltas of the world and within Holocene sediments there are still uncontaminated layers protected by unique facies change. The Classification of deltas has been based on the geomorphic expression of the balance between riverine sediment supply and destructive wave and tidal process (Coleman and Wright, 1975). These classification schemes demonstrate that subaerial delta morphology is sensitive to changes in the balance between hydrodynymics and riverine input, and to changes in relative sea level.

    Recent studies have detailed the delta's stratigraphy and development, noting that tectonics and sediment supply control the Ganges-Brahmaputra more significantly than in many other delta systems. These ideas are developed here through a discussion of the effects that spatial and temporal variations in tectonics and sediment-supply have had on deltaic processes and sequence character. Studies have shown a variety of stratigraphic patterns of Ganges Brahmaputra delta systems reveal unique modes of delta development under different tectonic influence.

    Recent alluvium forms prolific shallow aquifers under water table or leaky conditions and, beneath the uplifted Barind and Madhupur blocks, the Plio-Pleistocene Dupi Tila Formation forms an important leaky-to- confined aquifer. Both are used for irrigation and water supply. The transmissivity of the alluvial aquifers is typically in the range of 1 000 to 5 000 m 2 /d, and is highest beneath the alluvial floodplains. The distribution of aquifer and water properties has been strongly influenced by the pattern of river incision and infilling that occurred in response to glacial-eustatic sea level changes in the Quaternary (Ravenscroft, 2001).

    Facies Change

    Major stratigraphic facies have been defined by their textural and physical characteristics, as well as biological remains and 14C dating (Gooodbred and Kuhel, 2000):

    • The earliest are the Oxidized facies and and the Sand facies, representing lowstand exposure surfaces and channel sands of the alluvial valleys, repectively. The channel sands generally fine upward, possibly due to thalweg migration, course abandonment, or changing sediment load.
    • Overlying these two facies is the Lower Delta Mud is Muddy Sand facies, which contains both marine and terrestrial fossils representing a marine-influenced mangrove environment.
    • Ov
    erlying the Lower Delta Mud is the Muddy Sand facies, interpreted as prograding fluvial and estuarine distributory-mouth deposits. Variable grain size distribution in this unit suggests increased thalweg migration and channel mobility in the lower delta.

    There are wells that are highly contaminated but a few wells show ground water arsenic concentration is far below Bangladesh standard. Based on an understanding of the geological origins of contamination, it may be possible to identify areas or strata that are at relatively low risk of arsenic contamination. In some areas arsenic contamination is confined to highly localized sedimentary deposits.

    Local relief and rivers impact on the direction and velocity of groundwater flow and therefore on the migration of arsenic contaminated water. A sound knowledge on underground geology, hydrology it is possible to identify arsenic free aquifer at shallow depths. This is a very cheap and highly acceptable alternative.

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    3. 2. 4. Deep Aquifer

    Groundwater distribution of vertical flows is highly dependent on the assumed lithological profile. Lithology therefore has to known in detail and included in the models, before reliable predictions of vertical flows can be made. This especially important for considering flow to the deep aquifer. Modelling of the Faridpur aquifer indicated that percentages of flow to the deep aquifer (taken to greater than 130 m depth) can vary by as much as three times (4-12%) depending on the distribution of hydraulic properties of the sediment profile.

    Lithological information from the borehole log obtained for Faridpur suggests that, unlike elsewhere in Bangladesh, there is not an extensive, well-defined aquitard layer between the shallow and deep aquifer. Groundwater flow to the deep aquifer based on the Faridpur model is therefore likely to represent a worst-case estimate (BGS, 2000).

    A series of geological cross sections show the variability and extent of aquifers sand, and show how the deep aquifer becomes unconfined in the northerly direction and is hydraulic continuity with the shallow aquifer. This demonstrates the probably recharge mechanism (in the south) for the deep aquifer and explaining how the freshwater is preserved beneath the saline aquifer.

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    3. 3. 5. Heavy Minerals

    Concentration of heavy minerals and lateral extent of heavy mineral accumulations depend on various factors, such as the type, amount, size density of heavy mineral supplied, bottom configuration, areal topography, hydrodynamic setting and activity. We found in Holocene Fine Sand Facies relatively a very high concentration of heavy minerals in thin layers ( about 9%). Concentration of such a high amount indicates of active reworking on the higher parts of the fan.

    Heavy mineral concentration opaque heavy minerals (>10% of the heavy mineral concentration) includes magnetite, hematite, titanite, ilmenite etc. Non-opaque heavy mineral identified are mica, garnet, epidote, hornblende, zircon, sillimanite, kyanite, andalusite and apatite. The Holocene heavy mineral suit is compareable to older Bengal Basin sediments. For example Dupitila Sands (Plio-Pleistocene) contains mica,garnet, epidot, hornblende, chlorite, tourmaline and apatite (Uddin and lundberg, 1998). Holocene and Older sediments of Bengal Basin are input of physically weathered sediments from the Himalayas.

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    3. 3. 6. Clay Mineralogy

    The Ganges and Brahmaputra have distinctive mineralogies which result from geologically distinct source area. The Brahmaputra drains the Tibetian Plateau of China is dominated by upland tributaries originating in the Himalayas. The Brahmaputra flows through rock types including Precambrian metamorphics., felsic intrusive, and Palozoic-Mesozoic sandstone and shales. The upland Ganges drain similar rock types along the southern slope of the Himalayas. Unlike Brahmaputra, hoxever, Ganges also fed by substantial lowland tributaries (Huizing, 1971).

    Clay mineralogy in the cores records the relative influence of smectite and kaolinite-rich Ganges sediments and illite and chlorite-rich Brahmaputra material. A mixed layer illite/smectite are present in all samples varying from 1% to 14%.

    The majority of the smectite in the Ganges forms from low temperature alternation of HHC sediments from pedogenic processes in the Indo-Gangetic floodplains, while IC forms from direct physical erosion of HHC. The d18O values of +20% and d2 H values of -65% are consistent with alteration by meteoric water in the Indo-Ganges plain at ca. 20°C (France-Landord et al., 1993). The smectite is formed during transport by the river systems through one or more of the following processes: alternation during transport, deposition in a foreland basin.

    Inputs of physically weathered sediments from the Himalayas are believed to control trend of Smectite-kaolinite (SK) and Illite-chlorite (IC) in Ganges and Brahmaputra sediments. Heroy et al., (2003) report the highest IC inputs at ~ 10,000 years B. P. and the increasing SK through the Late Holocene.

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    3. 3. 7. Core Description

    The initial formation of the Ganges Brahmaputra occurred around 11 ka, when rising sea level led to back-flooding of the lowstand surface and the trapping of riverine sediments - transition of clean alluvial sands or Pleistocene laterites to overlying muds that contain wood and estuarine/marine shells (interpreted as mangrove system). At the time of this transition, and next several thousands of years, the mean rate of sea-level rise was >1 cm/year. Thus this mangrove system developed during rapid eustatic rise and remained during the ensuring several thousands years, depositing a 20-30 m thick transgressive phase muddy coastal-plain sequence.

    In the case of well drilling we do a number of things. We analyzed the sediments for total arsenic content .We also study the color of the sediments. We have seen that there is a good co-relation between color of sediments and arsenic contents. We have seen that gray sediments have got high arsenic, dark sediments, bleak sediments also got high arsenic. On the other hand, radish brown sediment has got low arsenic. We also try to test the rate of release. We have seen that gray sediments released much higher amount of arsenic than the red sediments. This red sediment does not release arsenic at all. We can have safe water at depth deeper than 100 meter. Whereas in most cases at deeper than the 100 meter. For each village we determine that and in some villages we have found that we can have safe water at 30-meter depth. Some villages at 60 meter or even in other areas deeper than that up to 120 meter or 200 meter.

    Mottled Interbedded Mud

    The surface sediments of lower delta are remarkably homogeneous, silts to clayey silts, and sand content generally less than 5%. The remnant physical stratification is in the forms (3-11 cm thick) of alternating clay- rich and clay-deficient silts that often show cyclic spacing. Early mineral cements (pyrite, siderite) occur in disseminated form associated with roots and of high organic content. Lower section is often deformed by roots.

    Muddy Sand

    Muddy sand facies is interpreted to be where the coarse grained lamination increases to greater than 50%. This sand is fine to very fine (mode 3 - 25 F). Composition is mica-rich, quartz sand with a significant (10-30%) silt content. The sandy silt micaceous is locally interbeded with layers of peat and contains brackish groundwater - presumed to be deposited in estuary that extended deep into the Meghna-Brahmaputra-Ganges valley.

    Peaty Mud

    A few cores contain the presence of high organic sediment with woody, autochthonous peat layers that have lower contact. Interspersed between peat horizons are rooted, blue-gry woody clays.

    Channel sands

    Sand facies, representing low-stand exposure surfaces and channel sands of the alluvial valleys, respectively. The channel sands generally fine upward, possibly due to thalweg migration, course abandonment, or changing sediment load.

    The various fine grained mud facies have been preserved at particular times and particular region of the system. At the subaerial front, muddy coastal-plain deposits that date initial delta development (~ 11 ka) are well preserved amidst sandy alluvial-valley deposits at 30-60 m depth. Presently, fine-grained muds dominate the shallow stratigraphy (2-5m) and extend across roughly 90% of the delta. The age of these deposits ranges from modern to a few thousand years , and their broad extent is greatly facilated by vast overbank flooding (Allison et al., 1998).

    West of Noakhali the aquifer is associated with the deposition of deltaic arcs, whereas east of Noakhali including islands of Moheskhali and Kutubdia the deep aquifer is the down dip extension of strata cropping out within the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Overlying deep aquifer is a thick clay sequence generally 200 to 500 feet thick, which acts as confining layer. Up to 200 to 300 feet below surface level is generally a complex mixture of fine sand, silts and clays, which could be considered as one unconfined aquifer,

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    3. 3. 8.. Priorities of the project

    • Shallow arsenic free (below standard) tube wells as it is easy to maintain and are free from biological contamination.
    • Dug wells, where shallow wells cannot be constructed.
    • Rainwater harvesting, in the light of reservoir that meets demand of the whole year.
    • Deep tube wells, only in the proved areas, shallow aquifers separated by confined layers of clay sediments, and not intruded by saline water.

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    dirty pond-Noakhali

    The use of the region’s dirty surface water, which was once the primary source of water, is extremely harmful due to waterborne diseases. These diseases include diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis. In the early 1970s almost a quarter of a million children died each year due to these waterborne diseases.

    "In a preliminary study of arsenic pollution in Bangladesh drinking water sources, Duke University hydrologists have found evidence that surface waters can also be contaminated with the substance. Thus, say the scientists, abandoning polluted wells in favor of ponds and surface reservoirs, as is advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bangladeshi government, will not always solve the problem. "Our analyses found that surface waters as well as ground waters have arsenic in excess of WHO standards, especially in areas of significant irrigation," said associate professor Stuart Rojstaczer, who led the study. "This finding means that groups advocating surface water over ground water must be very cautious. They should not assume a priori that arsenic levels in the surface waters will be negligible." ( Duke Univ. News 3 Jun 99)

    In Bangladesh still drinking contaminated with biological and inorganic water poses the greatest risk. Most of the hospital in the rural area of Bangladesh is packed with water contaminated diseases.

    Geologists still do not know enough about the properties of the aquifers to be certain that digging deeper wells will help; reverting to surface water and rainwater, even if treated, still carries the risk of communicable disease; and high tech solutions rarely work in developing countries. Should the people drinking water contaminated with arsenic be advised to go back to drinking water contaminated by micro-organisms' In public health terms the risk of dying from diarrhoeal illnesses is greater than that of dying from arsenic poisoning (British Medical Journal, 2001).

    clay-potter making filter ready filter for sale

    Filter is made from Sand, Clay, ash as a candle in a clay pot removes bacteria and lowers arsenic concentration, and water keeps cool. produced by the clay potters and sells at TK. 200, whereas cement-gypsum (may be contaminated from recycled industrial wastes) filters costs more than Tk. 400. (Tk 60= ! $US Dollars)

    The greatest threat to inhabitants of Noakhali is infectious diarrhoea which results from contamination of water and food by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Contamination occurs because of improper water purification, inadequate cooking, handling, or storage of food and water, and breakdowns in field sanitation and local public health services.


    WATERBORNE DISEASES Responsible pathogen Route of exposure Mode of transmission
    Cholera Vibrio cholerae bacteriagastro-intestina often waterborne
    Botulism Clostridium botulinum bacteria Clostridium botulinum bacteria food/water borne; can grow in food
    Typhoid Salmonella typhi bacteria gastro-intestinal water/food borne
    Hepatitis A Hepatitis A virus gastro-intestinal gastro-intestinal
    Dysentery Shigella dysenteriae bacteria or Entamoeba histolytica amoeba gastro-intestinal food/water
    Cryptosporidiosis Cryptosporidium parvum protozoa gastro-intestinal waterborne; resists chlorine
    Polio polioviruses gastro-intestinal exposure to untreated sewage; may also be waterborne
    Giardia Giardia lamblia protozoa gastro-intestinal waterborne

    To prevent waterborne diseases awareness and education are the most important aspects of prevention. Our priroties are:

    • Arsenic free shallow wells
    • Dug wells away from latrines, in a sunny place, traditional purification methods
    • Rain water harvesting
    • Use of simple Cloth (sari) filter
    • Clay Pot Sand-Clay filter
    • Add chlorine during flood.


    Simply filtering drinking water though cloth from old clothes can cut new cholera cases in half, researchers have found. The technique was tested in Bangladesh, where it could potentially save many lives. Cholera is a waterborne disease that causes severe diarrhoea. It kills tens of thousands of people a year worldwide

    Micro flora and fauna removes pollutants

    Clays also adsorb arsenic because of the oxide-like character of their edges, as do carbonates. Of these components, adsorption by iron oxides is probably most important in sandy aquifers because of their greater abundance and the strong binding affinity. Nevertheless, if studies of soil phosphate are a guide, then aluminium oxides can also be expected to play a significant role when present in quantity. Experience from water treatment (Edwards, 1994) suggests that below pH 7.5 aluminium hydroxides are about as effective as iron hydroxides (on a molar basis) for adsorbing As (V) but that iron salts are more efficient at higher pH and for adsorbing As (III). Arsenic (V), like phosphate.

    Surface water percolates through (4-6 meters) soil, silty sand and accumulates in fine to medium sand (aquifer) of dug wells. If dug wells are constructed with proper care, natural biological system removes nitrogen, germs, bacteria and viruses. Our ancestor knew this wisdom. Even now people say, "Drink crystal clear water. Do not drink water with micro-organisms!"


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    Dug Wells:

    dug well at Tulagram, fridpur dug well at Kasnail, Faridpur dug well connected with tube-well, Faridpur

    Water Wells:

    Traditional drilling -first digging a hole, water, pipie and movement om 4 bamboos platfom- faridpur slow movement penetrates the formation a pipe is connected

    If the drilling is successful, Begalis do not say "thank you" (it is not in the language and custom), but y ou can see the bright loving eyes. Providing water, a minimum requirement, can change the life!

    final connection of pipe and the pump Sarasati has to carry water from a far village which water was also bad, now she can drink uncontaminated water, very sick arsenic patients live here, Tulagram, Faridpur now amanis can claim for water - let us sit by river side

    After reviewing and evaluating economic, social and above mentioned geological investigations, we have made three dug wells and 40 water wells (tube wells) in the following areas - arsenic concentration far below Bangladesh Standard (priority is to low income groups, schools and public places for better water sharing) in Faridpur.

    The Villages came under the project are:

      1. Village Vashan Char
      2. Village Ambikapur
      3. Village Kaijuri
      4. Village Tulagram
      5. Village Muraridhoa
      6. Village Purbo Muraridhoa
      7. Village Purbo Banogram
      8. Village Madha Para, Domkaron
      9. Village Purbo Banogram, Dhakin Para
      10. Village Tambulkhana
      11. Village Betbaria
      12. Aubergine Village- Betbaria
      13. Village Kasnail


    our transport- rickshaw very practical Traditional drilling - bamboo frame, water and pipe movement can drill upto 150 feet or more and also sampling, Noakhali! traditional bamboo drillin- in Noakhali requires only two pieces of Bamboo
    After testing, floor is cemented to inhibit water percolation through pioes Completion of a successful drilling Happy school children - now they will get uncontaminated water, Char parbati, Noakhali

    In Companiganj, Noakhali district about 31 water wells and two dug wells were successfully completed in the following unions:

    • Bashurhat Proushava Union
    • Char Parbati Union
    • Hazari Union
    • Sirajpur Union

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    Traditionally almost everywhere in Bangladesh Dug wells exist since immortal time, but in Noakhali, people drinks and uses pond's water for all purposes. Now pond waters have become polluted by biological and chemical contaminants. Our effort to make dug wells in coastal area was a challenge as we expected that geological formations, ground water flow, capillary pressure, sediment character may inhibit to make dug wells.

    Two dug wells were completed successfully at village Sirjpur and village Charparbati. A huge gathering of villagers took place. They did not know how to collect water from a dug well. A small girl was saying, "When the water table will rise, shall collect the water." People of Noakhali are used to collect pond water for all use. We set buckets on a bamboo frame to collect water. The water quality is optimum. When we visited Government Hospital at Companiganj, the doctor in charge, told us 80 percent of the patients in the hospital are admitted due to water-borne diseases from pond water. Now pond water is not only biologically contaminated but also point and no-point sources pesticides from fish culture and agriculture.

    Advantage of Dug Wells and a new alternative

    Natural biological filtration occur, when water percolates through sand bodies (develop microbial flora whose metabolism contributes to the effectiveness of removing effluents).In dug wells within the standing water simple sedimentation take place and has been found frequently a substantial reduction in BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand). Natural iron coagulation and settlement occur within standing water (decrease in arsenic, suspended solids, ammonia, nitrate and phosphate content). Surface water percolates through (4-6 meters) soil, silty sand and accumulates in fine to medium sand (aquifer) of dug wells. If dug wells are constructed with proper care, natural biological system removes nitrogen, germs, bacteria and viruses.

    Our ancestor knew this wisdom. Even now people say, "Drink crystal clear water. Do not drink water with micro-organisms!"

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    4. 3. Traditional bamboo drilling vs. High tech motor drilling

    deep well (750feet) left As and saline and shallow about 60 feet As far below Bangladesh Standard, Tambulkhana, Faridpur Shallow well (l), deepwell red (r), Noakhali

    Left deep tube well 1200 feet by Swedish Aid through BRDB water contains 80 Microgram arsenic/litre and tastes saline, Right (middle)a Shallow arsenic far below Bangladesh#s standard well drilled at Tambulkhana, Faridpur, May 2004 by this project. Right picture:close to the DPHE constructed deep tube well (red) - saline and iron rich water (now abondoned) at Noakhali- May 2004.


    The villagers who had taken the water connections paid 20 per cent of the project cost of around Tk 30 lakh in the form of a fee of Tk 2,500 for each connection. Each household has to pay Tk 60 for unlimited use of water in a month to a committee formed by the villagers. Piped water is being supplied by extracting water through a deep aquifer tube-well which extracts arsenic free water from around 800 feet below the surface. The poor in the developing world pay on average 12 times more for water than people connected to municipal systems, according to an ongoing study by the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century. While the rich benefit from subsidized treated piped water.

    Wazed Miah, an old man, from Sirajpur, said,"Sir, we are very poor and we can not afford the money for a pipe water, besides water does not taste and full of iron!"

    We found in many areas in Companiganj that many arsenic free deep tube wells are abandoned because of salinity and iron content. While setting arsenic free well at Lal Miah's house, Char Hazari Union, Noakhali, May 12, 2004 we were surprised to see a big gathering of women quarrelling with Grammen Bank's representative. The women said, "We want to pay the whole debt as the interest rate is very high, but the representative does not want to receive it. He wants only the instalment!" We found all over the country many poor are unable to pay such high rate instalments (about 25-28% effective interest).

    At this place an expensive deep tube well was set by DPHE/NGO about a year ago. Nobody uses this well because of saline and iron rich water. Our shallow well pours water far below Bangladesh Standard (arsenic).


    This was not the object of our project. But after finding several deep tube wells (700-1000 feet) contaminated with arsenic and water tastes saline and smells after cow-dung, just wanted to know, if there is any easy solution.

    The distribution of vertical flows is highly dependent on the assumed lithological profile. Lithology therefore has to known in detail. This is especially important for considering flow to the deep aquifer. Lithological information from the borehole log obtained for Faridpur suggests that there is not an extensive, well-defined aquitard layer (which is found in southern Bangladesh, a thick layer of clay sediments in many places) between the shallow and deep aquifer. In other words, contaminated shallow aquifer can flow to deep aquifer.

    The stratigraphy of the Upper Ganges-Brahmaputra delta shows different patterns and controls than those in southern Bangladesh (coast). Sandy channel deposits comprise nearly the entire subsurface stratigraphy across a broad area from Hooghly River distributaries to the main channel of the modern Ganges-Brahmaputra River. Boreholes from this area reveal little or no subsurface floodplain deposits (Goobred, et al., 2003). This situation suggests that floodplain deposits are wholly removed over longer terms (103 years) in this part of the basin, despite rapid aggradation during the early Holocene. The seasonal discharge and large sediment load (esp. bed load) of these rivers favour channel migration and avulsion, and thus the lateral erosion of interchannel floodplain units (Hannan, 1993).

    Since the donors/government policy to make deep tube wells in every villages of Bangladesh, expensive deep tube wells are set without considering lithology, lateral and vertical flows.

    On March 3, 2004 we were passing through a village Betbaria/Tambulkhana, Faridpur and just stopped to see a deep well constructed by Swedish Aid/BRDB in November 2003. Salam Satdor a wealthy farmer paid Tk. 3000 for an arsenic free deep tube well (750 feet). He said,"Sir, we cannot drink this water, first it is saline and tastes after cow dung!"

    Immediately we tested the water for arsenic concentration and found As concentration about 80µg/l. But they were not told about the arsenic concentration but BRDB collected water sample.

    This was simply interesting and challenging to know, if there was any better aquifer at shallow depths. On a bamboo frame traditional hand drilling made it possible to find uncontaminated water. To our surprise close to this deep tube well, we found a shallow aquifer that contains arsenic far below Bangladesh standard, low in iron, bacteria free and water tastes sweet.

    We do not know how many such contaminated deep tube wells are sunk and how much money is lost.

    Our average success for shallow wells is 3 to 1 and costs a fragment of the money that spent for deep tube wells. Now donors/LGRD Ministry has taken aggressive project for deep tube wells and piped water to be paid by the villagers. The key element of BAMWSP (Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply, LGRD Ministry) policy is "consumers-pays principles", in other words villagers have to pay it. Our experiences show that most of the rural population are very poor and can hardly afford 1 US dollar for an additional expense.

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    4. 4. Project 2009-2010

    We have continued our small effort to make arsenic free water wells and sewing courses at village Ambikapir, Suborampur, Alipur and Vashan Char. We could not see any other efforts from the Governments and NGOs that obtained a huge amount of money for arsenic mitigation. Those who were drinking more than 500 microgram/liter Arsenic more than 10 years are already dead and many low dose receiptens are contnue to suffer.

    An interview with the Chief of Public Health & Engineering (January 2010) reveals that they will close all arsenic mitigation projects from July 2010, as the donors have withdrawn from the project.

    Women Project at Vashan Char and Subharampur Faridpur

    sewing course at subhorampur faridpur

    Arsenic Free Tubewell at Alipur, Ambikapur 2009

    alipur 2009ambikapur 2009 >

    Arsenic Free Wells at Subhorampur, Alipur and Ambikapur 2010

    subharampur-fish-village 2010

    Fisher Village 2 - Subhorampur 2010

    Fantastic Energy Saving Device by the Villgers at Subhorampur- Slow Burning

    coal-clay-burnWe were surprised and happy to see that villagers have their own method of energy saving. They made small balls containin black earth, ash, coal and river clay and dry them. It burns slowly and recyle coal is a fantastic example of energy saving.


    Money that already spent for expensive conferences, consultants and many initiatives in the name of "arsenic mitigation project", if applied properly, people of Bangladesh would have been drinking water containing arsenic far below Bangladesh standard.

    The development partners have pumped millions of dollars into various mitigation programmes ever since dangerous level of poison in underground water was detected way back in 1993. More funds are reported to be pouring in but the question is are they reaching the people who have been most affected by this rapidly increasing menace around the country'

    Several NGOs have been given authority through the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), to offer low cost services to prevent diseases caused by arsenic poisoning from spreading. One such project for the 'poorest of the poor' requires a group of fifty to donate as much as Tk. 4,500 in advance to receive a safe tubewell. But the government seems to have forgotten that there are many 'poorest of the poor who would not be able to gather any money, least of all the required amount (The Daily Star, June 22, 2003).



    Dug well/cost

    Rainwater harvest

    Pond water Filter


    NGO Forum

    GK (Gano shaysta Kenendro)

    Tk. 40, 000-60,000*

    Tk. 30,000*

    Or above

    1, 00000 –

    2, 00000*

    All instalments are abandoned due to ill planning and construction.

    DPHE, Department of Public health and Engineering, BAM

    Tk. 40, 000-60,000*

    Tk. 30,000*

    or above

    1, 00000 –

    2, 00000

    As above. Most of the deep tube wells in Faridpur are very highly contaminated. Villagers are not informed

    This Pilot Project

    Tk. 10, 000 – 15,000

    Tk. 1, 500


    No pond water, as people rejects because of biological, aquaculture and agrochemical contamination

    10 to 20 thousands are drinking arsenic free water. Education and Awareness

    * This is difficult to know the exact figure, as officially they did not publish the expenses.Salary and transport costs of the government officials are not included here.

    The principal goal of this project is to introduce least cost-effective, efficient and appropriate method to obtain arsenic free water in the light of adaptability, social acceptance, sustainability and easy reproducibility within Bangladesh environment. We are pleased to see that many afforable persons in rural areas followed our principles and hired our trained personals, in other words, additionally thousands of people has been benefited.

    A project can not be succesful without the traditional, social, cultural heritage of the rural poor population of Bangladesh.

    Report and Estimated costs of dugwells in Spring 2004, Dhaka Community Hospital

    7. Acknowledgement

    Those who directly and indirectly helped this project, words cannot reply it.

    "Forest after run along
    This fairy land of flowers and fruits,
    Where deep shadows spell cool rest
    Where sun rays dance in small fragments.
    A bird carries a letter
    Written in perfume flowers."
    (Jasim Uddin)


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    Last Modified:September 22, 2010