Letter: Arsenic in the water
Wednesday 16 September 1998
Sir: The report "Arsenic-tainted water from Unicef wells is poisoning half of Bangladesh" (5 September) sensationalised a serious public health problem.
Unicef, together with the government of Bangladesh, the World Bank and other international donor agencies, is tackling the problem head-on. We are providing funding and technical help to test tubewells and to promote alternatives such as rainwater harvesting and low-cost filtration systems that remove arsenic and other contaminants.
To combat cholera, the government of Bangladesh, with support from Unicef and other donors, started sinking tubewells over 25 years ago as an alternative to pond and river water which was often heavily contaminated by faecal bacteria. These tubewells, along with an increase in sanitation and the promotion of oral rehydration therapy, have contributed to saving lives. In 1990, more than a quarter of a million children under the age of five died as a result of diarrhoea, the biggest child-killer in Bangladesh. By 1996, that number had fallen to 110,000.
We challenge the statement that "half of Bangladesh" is drinking from tubewells tainted with arsenic. To date, one fifth of the 19,000 tubewells tested by the government with Unicef's support have been found to be unsafe. However, until a significant proportion of tubewells from all parts of the country have been tested it will remain unclear how many people are at risk of arsenic contamination.
UK Committee for Unicef
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May officially heading to Amazon Prime for new car show
- 2 Stuart Baggs: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 3 How to cancel Amazon Prime: after Top Gear hiring, how to leave premium service
- 4 Tesco scraps 'unexpected item in the bagging area' as self-checkouts switch to less 'frustrating' audio
- 5 Living in Spain and commuting to London 'cheaper than actually working in London'
Top Gear hires female executive producer Lisa Clark amid reports Jodie Kidd will join Chris Evans fronted show
Frank Ocean, where's that new album at?
Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May officially heading to Amazon Prime for new car show
Jon Snow not dead? Kit Harington spotted in Belfast where Game of Thrones season 6 is filming
Top Gear: Jenson Button reportedly joining Chris Evans as replacement host
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains