Home to 17.5% of the global population, India has only about 4% of the total global freshwater resources, stands 13th in the list of 17 “extremely high water stressed” countries in the world (WRI’s Aqueduct 2019) and has 3 times the population of the other 16 countries combined.
India’s first Composite Water Management Index prepared, by NITI Aayog in 2018, concludes that under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario by 2030 water demand will be double the expected supply and economic losses from water crises will be 6% of the GDP by 2050.
Too often, cities in India operate under ill-informed and unsustainable water management and end up facing grave risks from coastal and inland flooding (view our research on urban flooding), scarcity of quality water, loss of biodiversity and access inequalities that threaten people’s livelihoods and urban economic assets. Climate change will exacerbate these risks significantly.
We undertake multiple bottom-up work engagements with government stakeholders across different Indian cities. The bottom-up engagements are always underlined by the urban water resilience principles of 1) regenerative water services and 2) water sensitive urban planning and design. For example, the engagement with Hyderabad involved multiple projects ranging from organizing multi-stakeholder forum (MSF) for restoration of urban waterbodies to providing strategic technical advisory supports (ideation to action) for developing restoration action plans for two environmentally degraded signature urban waterbodies and a cluster of municipal dump yard leachate ponds.
We identify and forecast the growing urban water challenges using cutting edge data analytics and research. For example, we have developed research based on remote sensing information and data analytics to understand how urban expansion in and around the 10 most populated cities of India has impacted local natural infrastructure for water over the last 20 years. This in-depth research study will be used to engage with urban planning and service delivery authorities to assist them in becoming water resilient.