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Arsenic

Development Marketplace winner SAR is on a roll

Tom Grubisich's picture

Development Marketplace 2006 winner SAR Technology keeps rolling up achievements in its successful fight against arsenic pollution of water.  Shortly after being asked to participate in Development Marketplace's Innovation Fair: Moving Beyond Conflict in Cape Town in April, this pioneer in removing arsenic from groundwater in West Bengal, India, won the $75,000 2010 St. Andrews Prize for the Environment. (SAR's technology innovator Bhaskar Sengupta holds award in photo above.)

The St Andrews Prize, which is given by the University of St Andrews in Scotland and the international energy company ConocoPhillips, drew a record 302 entries from 73 countries.

Weeks before it went to Cape Town, SAR won the 2010 Asian Water Industry Management Award at an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In November 2009 SAR's Development Marketplace-financed arsenic removal program in West Bengal was selected as one of the "12 Cases of Cleanup & Success" in the World's Most Polluted Places Report by Blackwell's Institute.  That same month, Sengupta,  Senior Lecturer at Queens University of Belfast who developed SAR's technology, received the Dhirubhai Ambani Award given by the Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Financial Reform and Fiscal Discipline

Eliana Cardoso's picture

It was in 1714 that Bernard de Mandeville defended his view of the economic world in a long poem with pretensions to uncovering the moral basis of modern society – The Fable of the Bees: Private Vices, Public Benefits. According to him, industrialists, businessmen and politicians are like pimps, quacks, pickpockets and forgers: tireless professionals who, through their cunning, use the work of others for their own purposes. Mandeville claims that it matters little if every trade and place is tainted by trickery and every profession, by chicanery. What does matter is that everyone, whether saint or sinner, contributes to producing the comforts progress provides, by looking after their own interests.

But you and I believe that where people live off ill-gotten gains the community will suffer and, thus, we reject the poem’s cynical view of the world. Yet, the lesson of The Fable of the Bees (that civilization advances in the measure that individuals seek to satisfy their needs and desires) is still alive and kicking.

24 Hours in the Life of Some Horizontal Learners

Mark Ellery's picture
In the face of families whose relatives have just died of arsenic poisoning advocating for institutional reform can seem a touch inane.

On the flip side, an urgent response to provide clean water or some relief to those affected is often neither sustainable nor scalable.

During a visit to Chapai Nawabganj we discovered that the Horizontal Learning Program enables rapid response - without undermining a sound policy position.

While visiting Meherpur municipality in Bangladesh last week, we learnt that 15 people had recently died in the nearby Amjhupi Union Parishad (UP) from arsenicosis. In a village meeting with the District Commissioner and UP Chairman we discovered that the citizens were drinking from both wells marked green (safe) as well as red (unsafe) because they were not confident that either of these sources had been correctly marked.

We were overwhelmed with the need for an immediate response but aware that any top-down solution could at best be partial. However, because of the Horizontal Learning Program (initiated by Union Parishads, facilitated by the Government of Bangladesh and supported by development partners) we were aware that local solutions to this problem had been developed by other Union Parishads.

At around 11 pm that night, it was resolved that a three member team from Amjhupi Union Parishad would join us to visit the nearby Ranihati Union Parishad of the neighboring Chapai Nawabganj Upazila (sub-district) to see how they had solved this problem. The solution was surprisingly simple, low cost and comprehensive.