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Land and Resources, Environmental Issues

arsenic poisoning, Waterborne diseases, shallow wells, polluted water, cholera

Waterborne diseases such as cholera are a serious threat to public health in Bangladesh. Until the 1970s, many of Bangladesh’s people became sick from drinking polluted water drawn from surface rivers. Aid agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) built shallow wells throughout the country to help provide a safe source of drinking water to Bangladesh’s poor. In the 1990s, however, it was discovered that many of these wells were contaminated by arsenic, a poison that occurs naturally in Bangladesh’s alluvial soils. In 1998 the World Bank granted Bangladesh a $32.4 million credit to identify contaminated wells and develop alternative sources of safe drinking water. UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international agencies joined efforts with the government to address the problem. About 30 percent of the wells tested have been contaminated to some degree by arsenic. The health problems associated with arsenic poisoning are compounded by the lack of access to health care in many rural communities.

Article key phrases:

arsenic poisoning, Waterborne diseases, shallow wells, polluted water, cholera, UNICEF, Aid agencies, World Bank, World Health Organization, health problems, credit, rural communities, percent, degree, government, health care, country, serious threat, public health, efforts


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