Film: Development in Bad Waters


Many of us still don’t know the difference between charity and development. While the total amount of foreign aid to Bangladesh since its independence is nearing $50 billion, the income gap has continued to increase. The inequalities persist in a range of human living conditions, not just in a financial sense. This film is concerned with some of those living conditions, starting with health, access to nutritious food and to safe and reliable drinking water. These are matters of grave urgency since the discovery of arsenic in the water almost two decades ago. The film explores the many failures to reach marginalised people and communities as a whole.
However, the observation that the inequalities have not been effectively addressed despite the efforts should not be used as an excuse to stop; it should be used as an argument to start doing things differently. The most important inequality that will need to be reduced is in the power to decide over one’s living conditions. It is one thing to reach out to the poor with water supplies and medicine, but if nothing is done to the circumstances that created the inequalities in the first place, then we haven’t managed to move beyond the mere provision of charity.
The process of social mobilisation that the Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation is facilitating has started to empower those that are normally marginalised from decision making processes. Already there are several positive signals that this is strengthening the communities’ sense of control over their own lives.

Development in Bad Waters (2013) on IMDb


Duration: 61 minutes
(Post-)Production: Crelis Rammelt.
Camera: Anton Rammelt, John Merson, Crelis Rammelt.
Post-production supervision: Arno Beekman, RGBAZ.
Music: flute and tabla (Bruce Miller) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
With thanks to the generous support of our sponsors.
Prepared in collaboration with the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales.

An 8 minutes summary/trailer is available here

Also featured on


7 thoughts on “Film: Development in Bad Waters

  1. Minor correction to the sentence in our film “pathogens won’t survive in the absence of oxygen”: the Clostridium family of bacteria survive without oxygen and cause tetanus, botulism, etc. The reason for freedom from human pathogens is that there is nothing for them to eat for the hundreds or thousands of years that they are down there, so organisms adapted for the circumstances (slowly) prosper instead. (Thanks Phillip for pointing this out.)

  2. Pingback: Introductions | People and Water

  3. Pingback: Is the water still running? | People and Water

  4. Thanks for the great video. I teach a subject on community capacity building as part of a Master of Social Change and Development. Through the course I emphasise the importance of a bottom up approach and social justice. I’m going to recommend that students watch your video as it highlights some of the themes I want the students to explore.
    Thanks again.

    • Thank you, that is fantastic. We’re very happy it is useful. We’d love to hear what your students think. Please invite them to share their thoughts. And please let me know if we can help with readings or other things. All the best with the course!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>