A nationwide survey of 125,000 public rural waterpoints installed between 2007 and 2012 reveals major changes from the pre-arsenic era and expectations of the 2004 Arsenic Policy. Shallow tubewell (STW) use has greatly reduced and deep tubewells (DTWs) now dominate in arsenic-affected areas. Arsenic contamination is greatly reduced from baseline; 3.6% of DTWs, 7.6% of STWs and 5.5% of ringwells (RWs) exceed 50 μg/L. In some sub-districts contamination is worse than previously recognised. Faecal contamination affects 48% of devices, and is most severe in RWs and surface water devices (SWDs). Manganese exceeds 0.4 mg/L in 12% of DTWs, 51% of STWs and 40% of RWs. Iron exceeds 1 mg/L in 48% of devices. Sustained operation ranges from 91% in DTWs, 84% in STWs, 68% in RWs to 47–94% in SWDs. Falling water levels in shallow and deep aquifers require replacement of suction pumps. Addressing aesthetic, water quality and level issues will require major investment in piped water systems with Fe/Mn removal and chlorination. Technologies differ in household coverage (DTW > STW > RW) and use for drinking (DTW > RW > STW). With a modest increase in investment in relatively safe, popular and cost-effective DTWs and better targeting, arsenic poisoning could be virtually eliminated in 5–10 years.
Effectiveness of public rural waterpoints in Bangladesh with special reference to arsenic mitigation
Peter Ravenscroft, Ahammadul Kabir, Syed Adnan Ibn Hakim, A. K. M. Ibrahim, Sudhir Kumar Ghosh, Md Saifur Rahman, Firoza Akhter, Md Abdus Sattar; Effectiveness of public rural waterpoints in Bangladesh with special reference to arsenic mitigation. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development 1 December 2014; 4 (4): 545–562. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/washdev.2014.038
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