Water sensitive design for Indian cities

News - 22 May 2019 - Communication BK

An integrated systems approach is necessary for sustainable urban water management. The project Water4Change focusses on fit-for-purpose water sensitive design for fast growing liveable cities in India, combining know-how from Dutch and Indian experts. BK Bouwkunde spearheads the Dutch part of the project, funded by a € 1.470.000,- NWO WOTRO grant.

The Water4Change project is the result of a Sandpit procedure, which was applied on developing a research programme for the first time by NWO. Thirty Dutch experts were selected to join thirty Indian experts for an intensive four-day workshop on location in India. Content-driven matching resulted in the formation of three consortia with three research proposals on urban water systems in secondary cities in India. The Water4Change programme was ultimately selected. Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin is the principal applicant of the Dutch consortium. She is Assistant Professor Urban Design Theory & Methods and research leader of Delta Urbanism at BK Bouwkunde.

Water4Change follows the framework set by NWO WOTRO and the Indian counterpart DST and is based on the theory of change and impact pathways. The programme reflects on how change on urban water systems can be actively delivered, both from a short-term need for change and from a long-term planning perspective. To deliver actual change, a balance has to be acquired between the four basic domains society, built environment, infrastructure and technology, and governance. Interventions need to be fit for purpose. This means they have to be site specific, sensible to the context, and knowledge and technology already in place. The research programme aims to learn from and harvest everything that is already in use in the Indian context, and to explore how to evolve from there. This will result in an integrative and applicable water sensitive design framework for liveable fast growing secondary cities in India.

Secondary cities in India are not yet mega cities, but are fast growing and on their way to becoming large cities. Fast growing urban agglomerations are at risk of developing infrastructure deficits and adaptation gaps. Water is a basic necessity for life, and can work as a catalyst for positive change if managed in a context sensitive way. That also means working with the local stakeholders through all layers, from the municipality to local communities. Three case studies are researched within the programme. These cities serve as exemplary cities with different typologies and climates, selected through a matrix. The cities of Shimla (mountain city), Bhuj (oasis city), and Kozhikode (coastal city) all have their own challenges towards water, from draught to seasonal flooding. The resulting insights will inform the design framework and guarantee applicability.

The Water4Change research programme will be executed over the course of five years. The Dutch partners of the consortium received a grant of € 1.470.000,- from NWO WOTRO, with a same amount available to the Indian partners through DST. The consortium consists of 24 staff members. Additionally, 4 PhD positions and 1 postdoc position will become available within the Netherlands; as well as 8 PhD positions and 2 postdoc positions in India.

More information

Contact Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin for more information. Additionally, read this article by NWO with a full overview of all participants.