Chapai Nawabganj Upazila has launched a program to ensure that 100 per cent of drinking and irrigation water sources in the Upazila [subdistrict] are tested and marked for arsenic contamination. Union Parishads of Chapai Nawabganj learnt about this approach from the best practices of Union Parishads in Chowgacha through a peer-to-peer learning process known as Horizontal Learning Program.
128 Union Parishads (UPs) and their partners under horizontal learning program are now linked with “Mobile SMS system” or mobile phone text messaging.
The SMS Network includes UP chairmen and members, partners, local government and concerned Ministries. Union Parishads are now able to easily share relevant information with their network peers, by simply sending SMS. Seventeen Union Parishads have already published their open budget sessions and used the SMS Network to invite their peers.
[...] The Horizontal Learning Program is supported by the Ministry of Local Government and facilitated by 18 partners including the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program for South Asia (WSP-SA). The partners support participating Union Parishads to identify and validate their best practices and then facilitate the scaling-up of these practices through peer-to-peer learning. Launched in November 2007 in 6 Upazilas, now the Horizontal Learning Program has expanded to 128 Ups in 13 Upazilas.
[...] The arsenic testing program is an UP initiative that is supported by the Upazila administration, DASCOH and HYSAWA. Under this program, all owners of water supply assets will be required to pay for the testing while the UP will be responsible in ensuring the validity of the tests. Safe tube wells are painted green. The program encourages other Upazilas to learn how to test water samples for arsenic.
Read more about the “Horizontal Learning for Strengthening Capacities of Local Government Institutions in Bangladesh” project here.
Source: The New Nation, 19 Jun 2009