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Accelerating affordable and sustainable citywide sanitation

  • Accelerating affordable and sustainable citywide sanitation
    Kala Vairavamoorthy, IWA Executive Director, and Sunita Narain, Director General of CSE signing the MoU, at the CSE’s Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute in Nimli, Rajasthan.
  • The International Water Association and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) sign Memorandum of Understanding for enhanced collaboration in India and globally, in the domain of Non-Sewered Sanitation and other areas relevant to the global South.

About the entity

The International Water Association is the network of water professionals striving for a world in which water is wisely, sustainably and equitably managed.

Sustainable management of water and wastewater is one of the essential prerequisites for development in modern times. The International Water Association (IWA) and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which have been at the forefront in policy and practice of sustainable water-wastewater management, are now coming together to give a stronger push to this issue, as the two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the CSE’s SFD week, an international conference on affordable and sustainable citywide sanitation that took place from 2 to 5 of April 2019 at Anil Agrawal Environment Training Institute (AAETI), in Neemli, Rajasthan.

Signing the MoU, Kala Vairavamoorthy, IWA Executive Director, said: “IWA and CSE share a common objective to strengthen the water and sanitation sector’s professional capacity for achieving global sustainable development. The MoU facilitates greater collaboration and co-operation between the two organisations. The areas of collaboration include research, knowledge production, communication and dissemination, training and capacity building.”

Prof. Kala Vairavamoorthy, IWA Executive Director, speaking at the SFD Week. Watch his keynote speech here

With growing urbanisation, cities are increasingly dependent on ground water or distant cleaner upstream sources, even as they discharge their waste downstream. The conventional method of wastewater management is capital and resource intensive, hence unaffordable to many cities. This has resulted in higher dependence on on-site sanitation systems across India and the global south.

This international conference, organised by  the New Delhi-based research and advocacy body Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), with the International Water Association (IWA), SuSanA and the National Fecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance as partners, was geared to promote the exchange of knowledge, policies and practices of affordable and sustainable citywide sanitation – with CSE’s work on Shit Flow Diagrams (SFD), which are visual representations of how a city disposes off its excreta, at the centre stage.

Opening the three-day conference on 2 April, Sunita Narain, Director General of CSE, had said: “A country like India cannot allow a single drop of its precious and limited water to be degraded. But that is exactly what is happening – our rivers and lakes, and our groundwater, are getting increasingly polluted. What we are attempting here in the SFD Week is to join the dots — see the linkages between our water, our rivers, our sewage, and our wastewater. Our challenge of having a ‘Clean India’ will not be met just by building toilets, but by building entire sanitation systems that are sustainable and affordable for all. Only then will we be able to protect our water.”

The sessions in the SFD Week covered issues ranging from water security and climate change, and tools and approaches for ensuring citywide inclusive sanitation, to best practices, solutions and technologies. Among the key speakers were D S Mishra, Secretary, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga; and Kala Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director, IWA. A number of experiences from across the world were shared by the speakers over the three days of the conference.

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