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Pure water in Vrati’s ‘Jalkanya’

Chapainawabganj Sadar Upazila in Bangladesh has three villages named Chamagram, Laharpur, and Lakhshipur, which suffered from arsenic contamination of their natural groundwater more than three decades ago. To address this issue, a non-governmental organization called “Brati” took the initiative to purify the local groundwater using a method they called “Jalkanya.”

Over the years, Brati has been working on purifying the water from the Mahananda River and supplying it to these three villages. Through a 6.6-kilometer-long pipeline, they deliver water to approximately 600 households in each of these villages. Each household receives 16,000 to 25,000 liters of purified water.

The project began after UNICEF confirmed the presence of arsenic in the water in 1993. However, no government or private organization had taken any steps to address the water issue in the area until 2004 when Brati initiated the project. From 2007 to 2010, they conducted extensive research on natural water purification. Subsequently, they set up a water purification plant and began supplying water to the three villages through pipelines.

Brati manages the project with its own funds and provides safe, arsenic and iron-free drinking water to 600 households in Chapainawabganj’s Chamagram, Lakhshipur, and Laharpur areas. The project has been running successfully for 13 years, and the cost of maintaining the water supply is covered by the users themselves.

Aminul Islam, the Manager of Brati’s water system, explained that they provide arsenic and iron-free water to the communities in these areas through their pipes. The water supply is vital as it has helped reduce waterborne diseases and arsenic-related health problems in the region.

Shamim Murshid, who has witnessed the devastating effects of arsenic-contaminated water while working on water projects in Barisal, stated that they couldn’t provide a solution for safe water back then because there was no reliable source of clean water. Since then, Brati has been working diligently to provide safe drinking water to the affected communities.

According to Al-Amin, a former member of the Union Parishad of Barigharia in Chapainawabganj, the water provided by Brati is arsenic and iron-free. As a result, waterborne diseases have significantly decreased in the area, and arsenic-related health problems have been eliminated.

Shamim Murshid mentioned that the Mahananda River is not polluted with industrial waste, which is why they chose to source their water from there. They maintain the quality of the water by periodically testing it with the help of ICDDR,B, the Directorate General of Health Services, and Plasma Plus.

Amit Kumar Sarkar, the Executive Engineer of the Department of Public Health Engineering in Chapainawabganj, stated that arsenic contamination in the Chamagram area was first confirmed by UNICEF more than three decades ago. However, no significant efforts were made to address the issue until Brati stepped in. The Brati project has been examined and is progressing well. They are also planning to start another project in the Barigharia Union along the banks of the Mahananda River.

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