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Arsenic-free, clean drinking water in Bangladesh

A project from AGAPE e.V. - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe
in Ullapara, Bangladesh

Provide arsenic-free, clean drinking water to 10.000 school children in Bangladesh by developing new, sustainable filter systems.

M. Maier
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About this project

Would you want to drink water from a well in Bangladesh?

In the gallery, you can see pictures of some wells and the water they produce. If the water is supplied with oxygen it turns red (picture “well at Dadpur school”) because it contains a lot of iron. It tastes horribly metallic but this is not the main problem. The water is harmful. In Bangladesh, more than 25% of the tube wells contain Arsenic above the concentration recommended by the WHO (10 µg/l). About 40 Mio. people are affected and annually 43.000 deaths are due to Arsenic. Children and pregnant women are particularly exposed.

The problem is known since the early nineties. The government and NGOs provide only little support to supply clean drinking water to the people. The first filter technologies used were primitive and turned out not to be maintainable, sustainable and affordable on the long run. Most of the mitigation strategies based on filter technology failed.

To develop sustainable filter systems they need to be planned carefully and adapted to the requirements. In 2014 AGAPE e.V. contacted the working group of Hydrogeology and Hydrogeochemistry of Heidelberg University. Site visits and analysis of water samples by Dr. Martin Maier and his team revealed, that filter technologies need to be better adjusted to the chemical composition of the water and the popular demands. Improved filter materials pose an affordable, adjustable and sustainable option.
Since spring 2017, a prototype filter system from the company “Watch Water” in Mannheim provides clean water for 200 students of Dadpur primary school (project picture). This filter can be easily connected to every type of well pump. 

Our aim is to give 10.000 children access to clean drinking water. With this first project twelve schools will be provided with demand-adjusted filters. Different filter types (dimensioning, filter material) will be purchased. Site visits and water sample anaysis will provide information about the requirements (site selection, water demand and quality) to adapt each filter to the site-specific requirements. To guarantee long term functionality, filters will be checked quarterly. 

During the next site visit the filters will be serviced and filter media exchanged if necessary. In a next project step a mobile filter system will be developed to supply several households with clean water. For a trial system 10 torage tanks will be provided in order to organize community-based use of a mobile filter unit. This way investment and operating costs can be distributed onto several households.