International
Federation for
Housing and
Planning

IFHP Expert Round Table in New Delhi on Urban Water

New Delhi, India IFHP Round Table on Urban Water

What relatively small changes to governance, regulation, finance and management would allow innovators providing urban water services and products to greatly expand their reach to those needing them?

Background

The IFHP recently held its second expert round table in India on urban infrastructure on October 15, 2014 in New DelhiThis round table focused on urban water and followed the same format of the February 17th expert round table on urban transportation hosted by CiSTUP (the Center for Infrastructure and Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning) at the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore.

 

The New Delhi Round Table was jointly hosted by Development Alternatives and the Centre for Policy Research.  The venue was Development Alternatives, in New Delhi.  It coincided with a larger set of annual events hosted by DA under the banner “India Post 2015- A Country in Transition”. These events included TARAgram Yatra (Yatra meaning: journey) a cluster of events that brought practitioners and policy makers together at selected DA development sites including some focusing on urban water issues.

 

One of the trips included a visit to a temporary housing settlement (Savdha Ghera) of 8,000 households with no installed water or sewer facilities.  The Delhi Jal (Water) Board has an innovative water tanker supply system and several NGO’s have initiated portable safe water dispensing and sewer retrofit schemes. 

 

What was discussed?

The question posed to three groups (experts, innovators and decision makers) was “What relatively small changes to governance, regulation, finance and management would allow innovators providing urban water services and products to greatly expand their reach to those needing them?” As in the Bangalore discussion the day long discussion was broken up into three segments: System Efficiency, Safety and Quality and Access to All.

 

Who attended?

In order to ensure the most mature discussions participants were carefully selected for their expertise, experience and decision making authority. Chatham House rules applied meaning no any one individual would be directly quoted. This format allowed for a very free and frank discussion.

 

2-3 Interpreted outcomes

The full content of this meeting is still being compiled but here are some early findings.

 

  • 24x7 water in India cities (e.g. Karnataka State’s cities of Belgaum, Gulbarga and Hubli-Dharwad) is possible by incrementally scaling up successes in smaller neighborhoods. Reliable supply improves revenue collection and water quality.  
  • Public support for water improvements are tied to access to information.  Data collection methods including online sharing of it suffer from collection methods, verification and consistency of reporting.
  • Water is not seen as part of a larger eco-system cycle from an engineering point of view. One suggestion was to put water supply (collection and purification), distribution, waste water collection and treatment under a single government ministry.