IHUWASH: Innovation Hub for Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Solutions

Catalyzing Innovative Urban WASH Solutions

India has an urban population of 377 million and is expected to grow to 590 million by 2030. Increased urbanization has been pressurizing the country’s urban water and sanitation infrastructure and thus creating roadblocks in improving service levels. As per the latest NSSO report, only 56% of urban households have access to piped water in their house or plot and close to 33% of urban households still rely on public taps or tube / bore wells. When it comes to sanitation, India accounts for 600 million out of the 1 billion people worldwide who defecate in the open – including 12% of urban households. A majority of these underserved families live in slums and other low-income settlements in fragmented pockets across cities.

Critical issues that hinder service delivery are a lack of capacity, innovative and sustainable solutions, evidenced knowledge, and partnerships (within the government and non-government systems, and the private sector). The service delivery deficit impacts India’s urban population, particularly, the growing number of urban poor. The rapid pace of urbanization growing at an annual growth rate of 2.1% further compounds this problem and sustainability of water and sanitation services are expected to be affected even more severely in future. Therefore, the urban WASH sector needs urgent attention.

Creating an Ecosystem for WASH Innovation

To expand and scale, conventional WASH infrastructure and services needs support from innovative technology and business solutions. Technologies, which can unlock the constraints of space, water resources and energy requirements; business solutions, which can overcome the issue of inadequate cost recovery from user charges and can bring improved quality and efficiency. However, innovations to sustain and fructify would require collaborative support from all stakeholders – government, private sector, academia, community, and innovators.

IHUWASH: Innovation Hub for Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Solutions

IHUWASH is a collaborative initiative of the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), TARU Leading Edge, IRC and Ennovent. It is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and aims to improve the performance of Urban WASH programs within a collaborative framework. It works through incubation and acceleration of innovative, scalable, community and market-based solutions using technologies, programs and service-delivery models.

Under IHUWASH, sustainable national and city-level Innovation Hubs are established to work closely with national level WASH stakeholders and with the administration of Faridabad, Udaipur and Mysore cities. These Hubs focus on identifying national and city level WASH issues and address them by contextualizing, testing and scaling effective, affordable and sustainable innovations, sourced at the national and international level.

Project Impact

Through the establishment of Innovation Hubs, IHUWASH aims to foster:

  • Prompt access to innovative, sustainable and scalable solutions for technology, behaviour change & communication (BCC), finance and management.
  • Promotion of WASH businesses
  • Improved WASH and health outcomes.
  • An enabling environment for collaboration.
  • An ecosystem for developing innovative WASH solutions.

The initiative will thus contribute significantly to achieving the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda on water, sanitation and hygiene with commitments of USAID and the Government of India in the WASH sector.