Catalyzing Innovative Urban WASH Solutions

The world is home to more than 7 billion people and within that India’s share is more than a billion. Currently about 34% of Indians live in the cities. By 2050 it is estimated that India’s urban population will become 60%. Rapid urbanization has put pressure on India’s urban water and sanitation infrastructure. Women and children are the most vulnerable. A study reveals that in India 355 million women and girls lack access to a toilet. If they were to stand in a queue, it would circle the earth more than 4 times. Building the infrastructure isn’t the only answer.

Creating an Ecosystem for WASH Innovation

It’s time to look at the innovative solutions that complement and augment the existing infrastructure to address the local water, sanitation and hygiene issues to sustain and support these WASH innovations. There is a need to create an ecosystem. The innovation have fervent water sanitation and hygiene solutions also known as IHUWASH was conceptualized in 2016. The project is being implemented by the National institute of urban affairs and is being supported by USAID. IHUWASH endeavours to create a multi stakeholder ecosystem that addresses the challenges of urban WASH system by engaging city administrators, private sectors, academic institutions and civil society. The hub has been working towards improving the performance of urban WASH programs within a collaborative framework. This is done through incubation, an acceleration of innovative, scalable community and market based solutions, using technologies, programs and service delivery models. The project is being implemented in Faridabad in Haryana, Udaipur in Rajasthan, and Mysuru in Karnataka. A partnership has been forged with the respective municipal corporations. In March 2018, the 3 WASH labs were inaugurated in the respective project cities. Each city works like a mini ecosystem having its own set of working framework. The municipal corporations have collaborated with the local technical institutions to create WASH labs that supports the municipality in implementing the innovative WASH Solutions. To sustain the ecosystem of innovations in WASH, the project has worked towards creating partnerships with incubation centers across the country to promote innovative ideas and support entrepreneurships of startups undertaking WASH as business. It implemented the IHUWASH accelerator program in partnership with Ennovent which helped identify 58 innovative solutions across the country, out of that 8 will be upscaled and implemented in the 3 project cities. Project also analysed the magnitude of WASH business and it supported livelihood in the 3 cities WASH economy report. Innovative community and public toilet prototypes were documented to provide guidance for further adoption and scaling up. IHUWASH is also developing WASH parks in the project cities which will be a combination of knowledge and tourist hub importing information in various aspects of WASH by engaging visitors through interactive means. Lastly, the project aims to setup microutilities for the creation of self sufficient enterprise for the operations and maintenance of public and community toilets. IHUWASH had come a long way in these 2 years. It has given a platform to select innovators and entrepreneurs to bring forth their ideas and solutions to the government. It has forged partnerships that creates and ecosystem to ensure successful implementation and upscale of innovative solutions. Hence, contributing to the SDG 6 goals of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all in India.