Project Well and Aqua Welfare Society
Millions of people are exposed to arsenic in drinking water in West Bengal, India, and neighboring Bangladesh. Project Well, a non-profit registered in California in 2001, has developed a sustainable, community-based program to provide arsenic-safe drinking water. Traditional dugwells, modified to reduce potential bacterial contamination, are constructed at carefully selected sites. The shallow dugwells are packed with coarse sand around the annular space to enhance groundwater storage and also act as a filter. The dugwells are fed by rain water and are therefore not contaminated with arsenic. Wells are also protected from external contamination by a net cover and a tin roof. Water is chlorinated regularly and withdrawn via traditional hand-pumps. For pictures, published reports and newsletters, please access www.projectwellusa.org.
With the help of the local NGO, Aqua Welfare Society, at the village level, sustainable programs are being developed. The dugwells are managed by the local people by forming beneficiary committees. Maintenance include disinfecting the water, sending the water sample periodically to check bacterial count and arsenic concentration, and collection of minimum contribution from the user community for the maintenance of their own dugwell.