Consequent to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between WaterAid India and the Bihar State Water Sanitation Mission, WaterAid India (WAI) organised a two-day orientation and policy workshop for chemists from 37 districts of Bihar on water quality monitoring and surveillance of testing laboratories on 13 and 14 October, 2016. The MoU addresses technical support from WAI in collaboration with the Public Health Engineering Department, enabling them to provide safe water to habitations impacted by toxic metal contamination. This formally initiates the first phase of this MoU which spans over four years.
Discussions at the orientation workshop revolved around sanitary surveys, challenges faced by the chemists in sample collection, standardising methods and equipment, upgrading laboratories, and securing accreditation processes. Also included were sessions on water safety plans, Bureau of Indian Standards components, field testing kits, and awareness generation among communities to approach biological and chemical contamination of water in a participatory manner.
The concluding day of the workshop saw a discussion on developing a Bihar specific state protocol in line with the existing national Uniform Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Protocol; and covering operational, administrative, and technical issues in labs in a decentralised manner. The workshop will be followed up next with action plans to develop and finalise the state protocol in consultation with task forces formed amongst the lab chemists and the technical team of WaterAid India.
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