Arsenic mitigation and social mobilisation in Bangladesh

Crelis F. Rammelt (Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
Jan Boes (Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 1 September 2004


For the people of Bangladesh, mostly in rural areas, a new disaster is emerging. Two‐thirds of the deep tube wells installed over the last three decades – roughly 3 million in total – contain arsenic concentrations above the permissible levels set by the WHO. These wells were installed to contribute to a secure and reliable drinking water supply, and put an end to various contagious diseases from the use of surface water. In itself that goal has been reached. It is therefore a bitter observation that it is this very approach that has led to the widespread arsenic poisoning of drinking water. Most rural development programs cannot meet the demand of the community because of the absence of appropriate institutional mechanisms, and most programs simply cannot reach the large low‐income groups. It is time to rethink the existing institutional set‐up and redefine the roles of communities, the private sector, NGOs, local government institutions and the central government. An initiative from several Bangladeshi organisations has resulted in international co‐operation – the Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation (AMRF). Participation of the local community is one of the guiding principles of AMRF. Local priorities will be a significant component in the decisions made regarding mitigation activities. Given the institutional weakness of governmental bodies in solving problems within a reasonable time, it is natural to look for local solutions based on local experience, knowledge and capacity. Focuses on institutional development and community participation related to arsenic contamination in drinking water and broadly in sustainable development policy and practice in Bangladesh. Looks into possible comprehensive frameworks for the implementation of sustainable drinking water systems, facilitating a basic development strategy for people's participation. Discusses ways to ensure a greater role for the community in achieving a sustainable rural water management system, involving formal institutions as well as informal networks at village community level.



Rammelt, C.F. and Boes, J. (2004), "Arsenic mitigation and social mobilisation in Bangladesh", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 308-319.



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