World Water Day 2022: Protecting villages in India’s ‘Arsenic Belt’

The 22 March 2022 is World Water Day, which this year, is focused on groundwater. Clean groundwater is vital for communities to thrive. It means wells can be dug to access the water lying just beneath the surface. However, in the case of districts like Bhagalpur and Buxar, in northern India, much of the groundwater is contaminated with arsenic, and it is slowly poisoning the local population.

Ten years ago, when 62-year-old Devanti Devi of Tilak Rai ka Hatha, a small village on the banks of the Ganges in Buxar district, developed a couple of hard spots on her hands, she thought they would go away on their own. Today, her hands and the soles of her feet are full of such spots. “I feel like I’m walking on small pointy rocks,” she says. Other members of her household, including her five children under 19 and her husband Jagnath Yadav, also started suffering from a myriad of gastric ailments ranging from indigestion, bloating to severe stomach pain. The culprit turned out to be the water from their bore well.

It transpired that most water sources in Tilak Rai ka Hatha, like other villages in India’s infamous ‘Arsenic Belt’, were heavily contaminated by poisonous levels of arsenic and iron.

As a member of the Halma group of companies, Palintest is supporting the ‘Water for Life’ campaign, in partnership with charity WaterAid who is helping to raise awareness of the daily challenges that people like Devanti face, and provide the technology and support on the ground to change lives for the better.

Palintest is at the forefront of water testing, creating portable kits that can ensure safe drinking water for communities around the world. Through Halma’s Water for Life campaign, its cutting-edge water testing technologies are now supporting thousands of people like Devanti to get access to clean water in the region.

Palintest’s Wagtech Potalab kits are enabling 1,200 drinking water sources to be tested for a number of dangerous contaminants in Bhagalpur and Buxar districts this year. Palintest has also just sent out a further 18,000 individual arsenic tests, ensuring that families in the affected villages and surrounding region can now be kept safe from arsenic contaminated water.

By the end of the Water for Life campaign, Halma companies will have supported:

– 5,000 people to gain access to a safe water supply through the installation of water quality treatment systems.

– 10 villages to have community management of operations and maintenance and water quality monitoring – with Halma also training community volunteers to maintain and operate the systems.

– 3,000 people to have the resources to safely harvest water.

To find out more, please watch our partnership film with WaterAid.

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