Sat. Jul 13th, 2024


P.O. BOX 1698, NEW YORK, NY 10008



 June 19, 2012

To: Honorable Congressman Joseph Crowley

Fm: Mazeda A. Uddin (Women’s of wing of ASAAL)

Dear Honorable Congressman Joseph Crowley

Yet another disaster has shaken the very foundation of human security in the most basic of necessities, the likes of which have never been witnessed before throughout world history. Since its inception in 1971, nearly 77 million people have been exposed to levels of arsenic in Bangladesh that are detrimental enough to be called toxic according to a Lancet study. The World Health Organization has called this “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history!” The statistic rang alarms with other organizations as well, launching research that pointed the culprit out as the hand-pumped wells that were being built at that time.

These wells tapped into ground water, which seemed to constantly be available and it was since sea levels are so dangerously enveloping the nation. This was the basis for the water system in Bangladesh. There are floods at least annually in most areas and even six months of a year in others. That becomes the source for the water of the old installed hand pumps, making clean water scarce.

Bangladesh has joined the long list of countries that have suffered a crippling blow the globally most fundamental and prevalent natural resource: water. The lack of clean water effects its agricultural economy and gives way to governmental instability, posing the age-old question of which came first: the chicken or the egg. We will examine the essence of each of the main problems that Bangladesh as a people and as a nation face, searching for common origins and show you that a simple fix will allow the country to continue existing. As of now, Bangladesh will drown entirely, becoming a gigantic marshland not suitable for human life or its amorphous political structure coupled with its economic instability will finally topple over. This paper will simplify the actions to ask of you least amount of effort or cost to save the nation.

Naturally the ground water comes from an environment with less than a sound ecosystem where over the course of time, the destruction that arsenic causes has farther-reaching consequences beyond just poisoning human drinking water. Animal and plant life are robbed of natural nutrients, becoming poisoned and poisonous for the local natives that live off of the natural food chain. Lack of water kills thousands of people a year. Research shows that even the slightest exposure to the poisons that water from the hand-pump wells contain are fatal and being that the impoverished are resigned to these wells, millions of people have died in a short period of time because poverty is at a staggering level. Well water also causes cancer over a long enough period of time. “The gravity of the [arsenic] contamination in Bangladesh is unprecedented.”

Natural disasters such as cyclones and flashfloods are commonplace in Bangladesh and both inundate the landscape unearthing the natural arsenic deposits, and forming ponds, blending with and adding to the ground water that is the major source of hydration for the impoverished. The lack of protection in rural areas for the livestock and those who inhabit and farm the land as well as the lack of aide afterwards, when urban areas sometimes face the cost of rebuilding without the help of a central government because the governing entity is too busy staving off competition for political power. Unfortunately, at the level of Bangladesh’s government, more important than any policy that may help people and their basic needs, is to stay above the rest of the country by accruing the most number of military units on its side.

As political parties clash, trying to hold more proponents against the growing number of political assemblies, electoral power is being spread too thin between the parties that want to be in power. Each find a way to influence the democratic government negatively, by corrupting officials with money or promising the key politicians greater jurisdiction, or promising the people representation if they were to march along side party leaders as loyal followers. Turning potential power of rule into a reality by garnering support from whomever, residing wherever or better yet, presiding over wherever, by large scale manipulation, and this is why the nation is renown for its political corruption.

            As with most other third-world nations, corruption is a rapid-spreading virus, infiltrating all crevices of legislation and policy. Human rights’ violations inundate the nation’s dealings with its peoples. Prisoners are beaten and tortured, women have very little rights, legally mistreated as workers and in other capacities, wherein assaulting wives is taken lightly. The same is true for children. The society has suffered in upholding human rights as the fundamental foundation for itself as a nation and instead has tried to make the most of dwindling financial and natural resources. The political parties involved

The grave lack of sanitation has made for a government that has lost hope in the sanitation of nations water supply and thereby the potential of the improvement of the health of its natives has been compromised. The lack of consideration of the plight of those suffering from the lack of clean water stem from political parties’ discord. Due to the changing political climate of the nation, securing a stable system of governance has been the first priority for those who have the money because they also seek power. With the lack of sanitary water and natural disasters literally flooding and drowning the nation in desolation and hopelessness, the people are susceptible to false promises of improvement. Politicians take advantage of that and gain power and the turnover rate for those in power is staggering, shifting from military rule to a democratic system, almost inevitably resulting from or causing coup against whoever is in power if the current governing party is not delivering its promises and/or any form of concrete improvement, namely in better water resources. Then another party is propelled into power with relentless alacrity from new zealot proponents, who were supporting the former government that failed to improve sanitation, namely water sanitation.

Bangladesh’s secession from East Pakistan has had severe economic repercussions, as well as political strife and human rights violations both by its people and government rule. Although the country attempted its own version of a democracy for fifteen years, it eventually returned to military rule that posed as an interim body until the real government was elected to power, but it did not keep that promise. Best described as political turmoil, issues such as mass poisoning of arsenic from drinking water are not even at the forefront. There is no easy way to help, but that leaves room for potential.

Democracy has essentially been shredded into a medley of political ideologies, manipulating the policies that govern the nation as a whole or locally, with a multitude of local and national pseudo-democracies falsely claiming to empower and represent the people. The United States represents and exemplifies democracy to the rest of the world and if it were to be installed in Bangladesh, we could finally focus our energies, capital and policy on the most overwhelming global issue. Implementing this form of government would be a matter of keeping troops in Bangladesh, which would be in the United States’ interest as well, so as to keep an eye in Pakistan from both the Afghani border and now, the Bangladeshi border, closest to India. If these military troops could overthrow the power that now reigns as a threatening entity to its people, Bangladesh will finally have an established a democratic political system that would be carefully overseen by this military in order to maintain it as a separate entity from all other party politics that run rampant in the nation. No longer could Bangladesh’s self-proclaimed representatives divide and conquer the political landscape.

Another way to help the nation finally rid itself of the poison of water supply dearth, would be to attack the issue of arsenic poisoning head on because the problem is not lack of water, it is not quantity, but quality that kills people. Bangladesh has enough water. The United States just needs to help clean it, but how? Arsenic poisoned water enters the man, woman or child’s blood stream through the hand-pumped wells installed in the seventies. If they could be replaces with wells that tap water from a hundred foot deeper, say, and not just ten feet, the water would invariably be cleaner. Following this scientific principle, we see how to solve the water crisis moving forward and it is just a matter of funding to replace the old wells with newer ones that dig many times deeper than the former ones.

Both of these strategies can change the entire country from being the most poisoned country since the inception of the World Health Organization to a country grounded in a consistent political system with a human development index that is growing. Educational and economic conditions would improve as children are healthier and can enter the job market with healthier minds. Bangladesh would be a healthier nation, lifted up from the dumps of desolation.

Thank you for your consideration,

Mazeda A.Uddin

ASAAL (National Women’s Coordinator)



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