100&Change: 2021

Columbia University

Ending Toxic Arsenic Exposure from Well Water in Bangladesh

Installing low-arsenic wells and optimizing use with an app will eliminate over 100,000 annual deaths and raise annual income by US$800 million in rural Bangladesh.

Submitted: August 2019
DOWNLOAD: Project Factsheet
Two-page overview of proposal
Competition Participation
100&Change: 2021
WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene)
Current Work Location(s):
  • Chittagong, Bangladesh
  • Dhaka Division, Bangladesh
  • Chittagong, Bangladesh
  • Dhaka Division, Bangladesh
Priority Population(s):
  • Economically disadvantaged people
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 1. No poverty
  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 6. Clean water and sanitation
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 10. Reduced inequalities

Executive Summary

Millions of tubewells across South Asia protect from cholera, but many contain poisonous levels of arsenic. Arsenic impairs fetal growth, increases infant mortality, diminishes children’s intellectual and motor functions, reduces adult earnings, and accounts for 6% of adult mortality in Bangladesh. One reason is that most rural residents don’t know the status of their well. Our solution - providing access to safe wells - amplifies our proof of concept and will improve the lives of 40 million people. Our consortium of scientists and local NGOs will test millions of wells for arsenic. Results will be distributed via a smartphone app that indicates which wells to use and will guide the installation of millions of new safe wells. We will rigorously assess the impact of these interventions and adjust procedures accordingly. These activities will provide the Bangladeshi government with the data and methodology to ensure that arsenic exposure remains low in the future.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

Columbia University

website: http://www.columbia.edu
Organization Headquarters
New York, United States
Organization ID
Annual Operating Budget
> $1 Billion
Number of Full-time Employees
> 1,000

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity