Welcome to ASTRA

ASTRA is a decision-support tool to aid the identification of potentially appropriate drinking water methods for arsenic- and salt-mitigation in Bangladesh.
The water supply methods included in this tool either treat or bypass arsenic and salinity problems in various water sources. With the help of the ASTRA tool, users can assess how appropriate different methods would be in a user-defined project setting.
The aim of the tool is to contribute to increased operational sustainability in the Bangladeshi water sector and achieve sufficient and safe water delivery for everyone. It was designed to support a multistakeholder process in the planning phase of water projects.

When using ASTRA for the first time

Much emphasis was placed on developing ASTRA to be a user-friendly application. When using it for the first time, it is useful to read through the following information so that you can utilize ASTRA’s information and support in the easiest and most reliable way.

Let's get started

The ASTRA tool is designed to allow the simple viewing of water supply methods and their transparent screening for functionality.

How to learn (more) about water supply methods

The contained 26 water supply and treatment methods were selected based on their relevance for the Bangladeshi water sector. They are grouped according to how they can support mitigation of arsenic and salinity problems in water supply projects.
The included information is grouped according to several disciplines to allow for a quick identification of facts and data that you might need for your water project. This is how you can retrieve information from the tool.
  1. Click on the ‘Proceed to the ASTRA tool’ button above.
  2. On the appearing page, click on ‘View info’ below any of the methods that you want to learn about.
  3. If you viewed the collected information but want more: scroll down for viewing the links on (i) Bangladeshi organizations that implement or use the method or (ii) click on the links included in the section ‘Sources’.

How to identify methods that fit one or more criteria

You can easily identify methods that fit a certain situation or project context. The tool offers you a selection based on your input and explains why the rest of the methods do not fit your selection.
Such a screening can be done in the following way:
  1. Click on the ‘Proceed to the ASTRA tool’ button above.
  2. On the appearing page, view and choose one or more of the screening criteria from the column on the left.
  3. Once you selected the relevant options, click on the button ‘Add criteria’.
The appearing coloring of the logos shows you which method.
  • Fully functional according to your selection (logos become green).
  • Functional but with restrictions (logos become yellow).
  • Not functional / not recommended for the selected project options (logos become red).
  • Not relevant, meaning that your selection criteria do not apply for the functionality of that method (logos remain white).
  1. Once you viewed the selection, you can see reasons of restriction or non-functionality by clicking on the ‘View info’ button of a method. Scroll down to the section ‘Relevant remarks’ to see why a method is less relevant for your purposes.
  2. If you want to restart screening with other options, simple click on the button ‘Clear criteria’ above the screening column and start anew with your new selection.

How to select and share information from the tool

You can select one or more methods, either to build a water supply chain or to share a range of potential options with others.
  1. Once you identified potentially appropriate water methods, click on the selection box in the up-left corner of their logo’s.
  2. Click on the button ‘Add technologies’ above the method groups. This selects the marked methods into a new section, called ‘Selected Technologies’.
  3. If you want to remove any of the selected methods, just click on the ‘x’ mark of the method.
  4. When you are satisfied with your selection, click on the button ‘Create PDF’ above the selection bar. This will provide you with all the selected information in a pdf file format.
  5. Note, that in its digital form, the links in the pdf file still work! So you can now easily share the file with others in your project to discuss applicability of the included methods. With the help of the links they can also access more information to form a reliable decision.
It is important to note, that the tool can only offer information on what is typically true for the included methods. In specific cases, some of the actual information may deviate from the described functionality.
To offer an example, small-scale piped water networks often have a high user preference. However, regardless of income level or geography, some community’s may have a different opinion. So it is important to keep in mind that the tool is only useful when used with a critical mind.
To incorporate above deviations in the tool, you can easily opt for methods that are marked yellow or even red as preferred choices. Try not to take over tool information without a critical evaluation on its use in your project.
Make sure to use the tool as an instrument that helps you to review your own view in a critical way so that at the end you have the options that are likely to function sustainably in your specific setting!
You are now ready to use the tool. Click on the button ‘Proceed to the ASTRA tool’ above and enjoy exploring ASTRA. … And remember: the tool only aids your decision-making, the ultimate choice is in your hands!

Additional considerations before using ASTRA

How to approach mitigation

In a Bangladeshi water project, arsenic- and salt-free water is typically provided through one or more of the following three basic principles:
  • Direct abstraction of safe groundwater; which is often cheap but not sustainable;
  • Treatment of contaminated (ground)water; which has increased costs but can help tapping from more sustainable (ground)sources and
  • Non-groundwater water supply, which helps utilization of otherwise neglected sources such as rain or surface water – in a few cases directly, but typically through a treatment, storage and/or distribution stage.
It means that a typical water supply chain will look similar to one of these routes:

So when trying to build a potential water supply situation, consider first how you want to approach water delivery from the mitigation point of view. While water users typically prefer direct groundwater abstraction in Bangladesh, it is certainly not the most sustainable way of water use.
To identify optimal solutions in your project, consider leaving the criterion ‘Water source’ open. This will not only leave ecologically more sustainable rainwater solutions in your selection, but also other – normally not considered – alternatives.
Even if it may seem risky to recommend less known methods to project partners, it is often still a better option than to automatically resort to the use of the conventional groundwater-deep tube-well solution.
The ASTRA tool supports a very rapid screening, so feel free to experiment with different screening scenario’s to identify the potentially most appropriate options for your goals.

Discuss potential options with other stakeholders

The ASTRA tool provides a screening of methods based on their functionality. This offers an initial selection of potentially appropriate methods for any project context, but that is only half the work.
Consider discussing and evaluating these methods and their relevance for your initiative with all stakeholders involved. A good method to evaluate the selected methods in a multistakeholder process is the TAF.
Consider using TAF with other project participants to discuss whether all method functionality information is relevant in your specific project scenario and also to inform others on the potential trade-offs when it comes to using a method that was marked less functional or not recommended.

Conditions of the tool use

The ASTRA tool can be used for free and without restriction. Because it is meant to support but not replace expert opinion in water projects, the developers of the ASTRA tool cannot accept any.
You can help us take on the arsenic and salinity challenge by sending suggestions for improvement or other feedback to


The ASTRA tool and the related multidisciplinary sourcebook was developed in the framework of the BRAC WASH II program with the financial support of the Government of the Netherlands and the expert support of IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and BRAC.

The ASTRA tool was developed by:
Gábor L. Szántó and A. Pelgrim-Adams – PRACTICA Foundation
D. van Halem, L. Rietveld & S. Olivero – Delft University of Technology
D. C. Roy – Practical Action Bangladesh
J. Barendse – WASTE Foundation
With the expert support from
K. Baby, J-W. Dogger, I. Krukkert & C. da Silva-Wells - IRC
M. Hoque - BRAC

The software tool was developed by
M. J. Bischops - VRConcepting

based on the software concept of
M.T. Westra, D. Karlsson & G. von Heijne – Akvo Foundation