Initiative Dakar 2022
We at GWA are pleased to announce that Dr. Arun Deb’s arsenic removal project in West Bengal, India has been chosen as a “flagship” project to be showcased at the World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Known as Initiative Dakar 2022, something new for this 9th World Water Forum, the Initiative promotes “relevant projects with strong social, economic and environmental impact on beneficiary populations.”
Dr. Deb initiated his project in 1995 in West Bengal where over 12 million people were being exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water. Dr Deb was involved in designing the filtration systems to extract the arsenic, and installing these systems for community use. Its intent was to save lives and improve public health by providing all villagers with arsenic-free water. Working with the Civil Engineering Department of Bengal Engineering and Science University, the first filter was installed in 1997 and ownership taken by the village community as the collective stakeholder Since then, over 130 filters have been installed at a cost of $1,500 each, a benefit to over 100,000 people.
The filter’s medium is activated alumina which is available locally and can be regenerated. Alumina removes arsenic through adsorption on iron oxide deposited on activated alumina. Since most groundwater containing arsenic also contains iron, the system works well. For the project to be sustainable, each installation requires social acceptability, including partnerships, education, local awareness, and social mobilization; institutional management; financial viability; and health and hygiene education.
Regional workshops of eight to ten water villages were organized where the stakeholders could discuss problems and brainstorm solutions, transfer knowledge between communities, and discuss the importance of women’s involvement in this and other social issues.
GWA is proud of Dr. Deb’s accomplishments. This Flagship project serves as a motivating model for all the activists in the world of WASH. For more information on Dr. Deb’s projects, please visit our website and click on the tab, “Projects,” followed by “Empowerment Stories.”