Piped Water Supply System from River Sand Filter (RSF) and Health and Hygiene Education

Project Piped Water Supply System from River Sand Filter (RSF) and Health and Hygiene Education

• To supply arsenic, chemical and bacteria free safe water to the community through a piped water supply system using a River Sand Filter at an affordable cost for an arsenic affected village • To provide medication and skin ointment for 350 arsenicosis patients for a year to reduce symptoms of arsenicosis among villagers

Project Partners Dhaka Community Hospital (DCH)

• Selection of site and area mapping for the pipeline network • Mobilisation of community members by formation of a Management Committee and the training of a caretaker • Water quality testing • Arsenic patient management • Continuous monitoring and evaluation (M&E)

Locations Shushunda, Muradnagar, Comilla, Bangladesh
Period 1 October 2012 to 31 January 2013

• 30 tap points installed to deliver water directly into housing areas. An average of 5 families per tap point • 130 families are being supplied safe water through the 30 tap points • Water testing results showed that the water was safe for human consumption • 150 confirmed arsenic patients in Shushunda village were being given salicylic acid and multivitamins


Based on a survey in 2011 by the Dhaka Community Hospital (DCH) on Arsenic contamination, a large amount of the tubewells surveyed had been contaminated with arsenic poison. The survey showed that just in Shushunda village alone, 150 individuals had been affected by the arsenic (arsenicosis). Based on these results, DCH, along with the local government, decided to proceed with arsenic mitigation, patient management and created awareness programmes on the dangers of arsenic. However, they lacked both the funds and management skills to run the programme. A second survey was conducted in February 2012 and which found that all of the tube-wells in the Shushunda Village had been contaminated with arsenic, with no alternative for arsenic- free water in the village. The number of individuals with arsenicosis had increased, during this period. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning begins with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhoea and drowsiness. As the poisoning develops, convulsions and changes in fingernail pigmentation may occur. When the poisoning becomes acute, symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, hair loss, stomach pain and more convulsions. The organs of the body that are usually affected by arsenic poisoning are the lungs, skin, kidneys and liver. The final result of arsenic poisoning is coma following by death, if untreated.

MERCY Malaysia efforts

MERCY Malaysia in collaboration with the DCH, conducted a full assessment of the area, including interviews with the villagers. Based on the results of this assessment, it was decided that a piped water supply system that used a River Sand Filter (RSF) would be installed in the village. Health and hygiene education sessions were conducted for the villagers to increase their knowledge of arsenic poisoning. A RSF unit was installed at the village along with 30 tap points, which deliver safe water directly to 150 families (estimated 650 people). Currently, an average of 5 families share each tap point. The delivery of safe water to the housing area reduces the risk infecting women and children, who previously collected water from the nearby Gomoti River up to three times a day. It is estimated that another 350-400 community members from nearby villages collect water directly from the three taps, located directly at the filtration unit itself. We can estimate that the single RSF provides the safe drinking water needs of more than 1000 people each day. A Management Committee has been established, with the appointment of a caretaker for the RSF from the local community. The purpose of the Committee and the caretaker is to ensure that the villagers developed a sense of ownership for the project, thus increasing the sustainability of the project. The Committee collects and manages a monthly fee from the various tap owners, which is then used to pay electricity fees and general maintenance of the unit. Since the installation, two water safety tests have been conducted and results show that the water safety is within the permissible level. Salicylic acid and multivitamins were distributed to the 150 confirmed arsenic patients in Shushunda Village. The distribution of these supplements will be continued until December 2013.