Ending Toxic Arsenic Exposure from Well Water in Bangladesh

Columbia University

Our consortium of scientists and local NGOs installs low-arsenic wells and optimizes their usage with an app, potentially preventing more than 100,000 deaths per year in rural Bangladesh and raising annual income in those areas by $800 million (USD).

Last Updated: May 2023
Competition Participation
100 & Change logo
Water access, sanitation and hygiene
  • Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh
  • United States of America
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • 1. No poverty
  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 6. Clean water and sanitation
  • 14. Life below water
  • 17. Partnerships for the goals

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 six percent of adult mortality in Bangladesh. A primary issue is that most rural residents don’t know the status of their well. Our consortium's solution—providing access to safe wells—amplifies our proof of concept and will improve the lives of 40 million people. We will test millions of wells for arsenic. Results will be distributed via a smartphone app that indicates which wells to use. The app also will guide the installation of millions of new, safe wells. We will rigorously assess the impact of these interventions and adjust procedures accordingly. These actions will provide the Bangladeshi government with 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 of America
Organization ID
Number of Full-time Employees
> 1,000
Annual Operating Budget
> $1 Billion

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

Organizations may provide budget and employee data based on this proposal or the organization as a whole. For more information on this proposal or organization, please email us.


Our Bangla app, which navigates 50,000 well-arsenic concentrations in specific areas of the country, is available on the Google Play store and has been downloaded several hundred times after a short Facebook ad campaign. The app is ready to receive millions of new well test results acquired through a recent government-funded program. In addition, USAID Development Innovations Ventures has funded a $200,000 pilot trial aiming to quantify the impact of the app’s well-arsenic information on household water choices.

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