New Project: Arsenic-free drinking water in India’s West Bengal

adelphi is supporting the charitable organisation Indienhilfe e.V. Herrsching to construct a safe drinking water supply for Chatra, West Bengal, a town impacted by arsenic contamination. The project is focused on sustainability and participatory implementation.


In West Bengal, where tube wells are the main source of drinking water for the majority of the rural population, arsenic contamination of groundwater represents a grave health risk for the population. The first visible signs of negative health impacts resulting from drinking the water are usually pathological abnormalities of the skin. In the long term, consuming water contaminated by arsenic can seriously impact the nervous, renal, and respiratory systems, disrupt early childhood development, and lead to cancer. In the North 24 Parganas district, where Chatra is located, around 52 percent of the 7.3 million inhabitants consume arsenic contaminated water on a daily basis.

To help solve this problem, adelphi and the charitable organisation Indienhilfe e.V. Herrsching have set up the project “Safe Water Chatra” (SaWaCha), set to run through 2020. Its goal is the construction of a community-based, sustainable water supply for the portion of the population of Chatra most seriously affected by arsenic contamination. adelphi is especially emphasising participatory project implementation in order to enable the affected municipality to independently run the drinking water treatment plant in the long-term, thus ensuring its lasting functionality. A further goal is to account for various social, ecological, and economic aspects of sustainability in the construction and operation of the plant.

The project plan is divided into four phases: First, local parameters are established and a project concept is developed that takes them into account. It will then be subjected to a feasibility study and financial assessment. The system will then be constructed and put into operation under intensive monitoring. The Safe Drinking Water project in Chatra was initiated by IndienHilfe e.V. and is being carried out by adelphi with local partners in West Bengal.