20 million people dying for a drink in Bangladesh

News Hour:

Every day, 20 million people are drinking water full of dangerous levels of poisons. The vast majority even don’t know they are doing so. It kills an estimated 43,000 people in Bangladesh every year, initially showing few, if any, symptoms but causing horrendous illnesses in later life.

Terminal illnesses caused by arsenic poisoning include liver, kidney, bladder and skin cancer, lung disease, nerve damage and cardiovascular disease. A new project in Bangladesh will reduce the number of people killed by drinking water contaminated by arsenic.


The vast majority of people who suffer from arsenic poisoning live in poor rural communities and drink from shallow tube wells, built in the 1970s. Many of the wells have not been tested for arsenic and people using them have a choice between paying for bottled drinking water, which is prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of families, or take the risk of drinking from an untested source.

Practical Action launched its new project after staff witnessed people they work with battling symptoms of arsenic poisoning, but unaware of what was causing their illness, and powerless to do much about it when they were.

The project will follow up following components like, Arsenic and iron removal plant installation to extract contaminants from the water. It’s also included training and education to provide water point testing via trained technicians to ensure people can detect arsenic, plus community training on how to spot poisoning symptoms. Also they will give training in arsenic removal plant construction. Harvesting rainWater ia a simple solution using guttering and storage containers to capture the monsoon rains and keep the water clean.

The project will work with more than 10,000 people living in slum communities in the Satkhira and Bagerhat municipalities of Bangladesh.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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