GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 251-14
Presentation Time: 11:35 AM


BHATTACHARYA, Prosun1, ISLAM, Md. Tahmidul1, JOHNSTON, Dara2, AKTER, Nargis2, AHMED, Kazi Matin3, VON BRÖMSSEN, Mattias4 and SHARMA, Sanjeev5, (1)KTH-International Groundwater Arsenic Research Group, Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 10B, Stockholm, SE-10044, Sweden, (2)Water Sanitation & Hygiene Section, UNICEF Bangladesh, BSL Office Complex,, 1 Minto Road, Dhaka, 1000, Bangladesh, (3)Department of Geology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, 1000, Bangladesh, (4)Soil and Water Environment, Ramböll Sweden AB, Stockholm, SE-104 62, Sweden, (5)Excel Dots AB, Svartviksslingan 90, Bromma, SE-167 39, Sweden

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress towards ensuring access to safe drinking water for all, although there is a gap between coverage and safety of the improved water sources. Over 97% people have the access to improved water sources but about 65% of them are affected by arsenic and microbial contamination. The Sector Development Plan (2011-2025) acknowledged the dependence on groundwater for the water supply coverage and identified geogenic arsenic, iron, manganese and salinity; environmental vulnerability; inadequate prioritization of arsenic prone areas; private sector capacity; and absence of harmonized sector wide approaches as the key challenges in scaling up drinking water safety in Bangladesh.

The project SASMIT (Sustainable Arsenic Mitigation) recognized the need for integrating the scientific results, social aspects and developed a protocol for providing safe and affordable access to water with high risks of arsenic exposure. It recognizes the need of capacity building of the local drillers to voice them in the decision-making process and came up with following key directives:

  • Mapping of intermediate deep aquifers as safe water source at a country wide scale
  • Incorporate relevant social aspects for tubewell installation considering the demand to ensure optimization of resources and benefits of the users
  • The recognition of the role of the local drillers as the driving force in tubewell installation

While UNICEF in collaboration with DPHE designed the Arsenic Safe Union (ASU) concept in 2015 and the ASU model uses the village as the unit of intervention and not the individual water source. It emphasizes vulnerability risk assessment for selecting most arsenic prone areas and endorses evidence based decision-making and advocacy. Presently, KTH Royal Institute of Technology along with UNICEF are working together in integrating science with indigenous knowledge using the Sediment Colour Tool and ASU model to improve private sector effectiveness in drilling for safe water access.