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Our partners have included Delft University of
Technology, United Churches Netherlands, the Prince
Bernhard Cultural Foundation and several individual
donators. Our present partners include the Embassy of
Japan in Bangladesh, WaterAid Bangladesh, Manusher
Jonno Foundation, AITAM Welfare Hospital and the
University of New South Wales.
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Expanding to new working areas: We wish to expand
our work to other districts with varying geo-
morphological and social conditions. This will help us
develop a more generalisable approach. We are
particularly interested in working with coastal
communities, which would bring up a range of specific
concerns related to drinking water (such as salinity). We
also intend to work with char-dwellers (people living on
sedimentary river islands) on their very specific socio-
economic conditions. Beyond our water and health
focus, activities may need to emphasise livelihood,
literacy or other local priorities.
Strengthening the peoples organisations: We aim to
build the capacity of existing CBOs by animating and
facilitating their pursuit of public services. Depending on
their priorities, these services could include agriculture
extension, social safety, primary education, primary
health care, access to justice or access to information.
Building a health care system: We hope to further
develop our strategies for primary health services and
promote health seeking behaviours in response to
arsenic poisoning. This health care model will incorporate
nutrition, hygiene and reproductive health services and
facilities at different levels (from households to hospital)
that will be adapted to peoples socioeconomic realities.
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The Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation was
established in 2001 in the Netherlands with a Country
Office in Bangladesh in 2003. It is a joint effort between
academic researchers, medical doctors, development
practitioners and marginalised communities.
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Working towards effective and equitable
arsenic mitigation and social mobilisation
Wenslauerstraat 72-1h
1053 BB Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Ph. +31-624621771
Village - Shologhar, P.S.
Srinagar (Bikrampur)
Munshiganj, Bangladesh
Ph. +880-1711391521
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Our approach is based on the simple idea that the delivery
of a service (safe water and health care) is not an end, but
a means. It may be instrumental in creating favourable
conditions for the participation of social groups that are
normally marginalised from decision-making processes.
They decide on the technology, the site for its installation
and the selection of CBO members. The CBO then
becomes a platform to address other dimensions of the
arsenic problem and other social injustices related to
food, sanitation, education, rights, livelihoods and so on.
In the words of one CBO member: the water supply is a
means for our development.
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Millions of rural poor are drinking water containing high levels
of arsenic. Prolonged exposure can lead to a range of
diseases with likely fatal outcomes. The efforts of public health
programmes to address the problem have often been short-
lived and unevenly distributed. The crisis represents a failure of
governance and a structural injustice of global dimensions.
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We have implemented safe drinking water and public health
activities in more than forty severely arsenic-affected
communities in three different districts. The installation of safe
drinking water supplies brings people together and provides a
justification for establishing community-based organisations
(CBOs) to look after their operation and maintenance.
However, switching to arsenic-free water is often not sufficient
to detoxify the blood and organs affected by years of slow
poisoning. Our doctors and paramedics therefore provide
diagnosis and medical care for patients suffering from arsenic
poisoning. In all activities, emphasis is given to improve the
position and control of marginalised people.
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The challenge is one of implementation. It is necessary to put
forward viable long-term strategies and discourage damaging
development programmes and policies. The urgency and
complexity of the arsenic problem requires an approach
linking implementation with research in a manner that reflects
the priorities of affected communities.

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