National Consultation on Water, Waste water and Sanitation Priorities and Learning Collaterals

This event is completed

Date: August 1, 2022
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The consultation is a starting point to identify current and future work priorities in the Water, Waste water and Sanitaiton, and the Perspective of developing learning collaterals that needs to guide this work(to ensure that it does not become a normative ouput of training modules, practitioners guidance and report). The consultation brings together practioners and experts, with a diverse and rich knowledge of emerging challenges in the water sector and of developing learning collaterals. The consultation will be followed by a review and input/suggestions to CSE core learning collaterals/training modules. 

CSE’s capacity building initiative over the past decade and under the aegis of School of Water and Waste (SWW)– a unit established in 2018 combined together has 7000+ alumni – is focussed on bridging the policy to practice continum in environment and development work in India and global south. CSE has many learning collaterals on Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning (WSUDP) and Green Infrastructure, City Sanitation Plans(CSPs), Decentralised Waste water Management and Local Reuse, Plan and design black and Grey water Management Systems, Shit Flow Diagrams (SFDs), District Level Planning on FSSM in Rural Areas, Groundwater Recharge and Rainwater Harvesting for Source Sustainability, among others. 

CSE has advocated a decentralized systems approach to urban waste and waste water management. CSE’s pioneering work on State of India Environment in the early 1980s(and continued thereafter), produced in collaboration with many civil society organisations and activists, highlighted the integrated aspects of livelihoods, water security, local know how and practices and challenges. “Dying Wisdom” publication in the early 1990s highlighted the significance of traditional knowledge and practices of water harvesting and management in rural India. The growing problem of urban waste water management was highlight in the “Excreta Matters” report of CSE in 2012. The report highlighted the issues emerging from an approach that prioritized centralized hi-tech capital intensive Septage Treatment Plants(STPs) but not Operation and Maintenance of sewage treatment infrastructure, leading to our small streams, storm water drainage systems and rivers becoming our open sewers. 

Water, waste water and sanitation discoursetoday is dominated by a normative understanding:water as a resource andas a service, that needs to be “efficiently managed in an integrated way”. It ends up seeing water scarcity and quality issues, indiscriminately tied to urban resilience and climate change. Urban planning(Master Plans) formulation often ends up doing lip service to ideas of Green-Blue Infrastructure, Integrated Urban Water management and Water Security concepts, with no commitment to actually reduce dependence on water from other regions/rivers/states, to recharge of ground water where it is most needed and improving drainage where it is a problem, or reducing water demand by putting a limit to population densification of a city. 

A plethora of frameworks and tools are being generated, that fragment rather than integrate all water and waste water issues and challenges we are faced with today. 

Water and waste water considerations in the urban India(and in most developing global south countries), cannot be separated from their rural context. Both dependence on water and the dumping of waste water, now impacts rural areas and natural habitats, as much if not more than the urban habitats. While the SDGs try to drill the understanding that all development goals are interlinked and one cannot be reached without addressing the others, this does not often translate into the work of organisations working on water and waste water. 

Urban water and waste water issues that are being addressed within an urban programming(mostly within the big national missions and programme funding),end up developing tools and frameworks that address ground water or surface water of city, its aquifers or a river passing through the city : as a point of reference of engagement and problem solving. Within a city,inequity(social and economic), translates into inequity to all services, including water. Given that a large majority of urban population in metro cities of India now live in informal/unauthorized settlements: normative approaches of water conservation, harvesting and recharge, rejuvenation of water bodies, decentralized waste water treatment systems;simply cannot be implemented there given their dense layout. Application of standard water sensitive urban design and planning, decentralized sanitation systems and ground water recharge may not be a solution there. What is required is administrative interventions to create wider roads, followed by infrastructure of storm water drainage and sewerage. 

Failure of provisioning of basic infrastructure in the informal settlements is nowadays confused with failure of urban planning per se, and a lack of understanding and application of water conservation systems. Water, waste water and sanitation sector requires a trans disciplinary approach.An application of both political economy and political ecology perspectives. 

For our learning collaterals, identifying what is the core learning focus that we want to convey(not normative but guided by a political economy and ecology understanding) – should guide the development of learning collaterals(Practitioners guidance, Workbooks, Frameworks, etc.). Capacity Building training content for practitioners is developed as : Orientation Modules, followed by Planning, and Deisgning modules. Here too the core learning focus that we need to convey, should be creatively defined and included into a menu of planning and designing options. 

The consultation will invite discussion and inputs to this understanding and approach of CSE. We would also invite feedback and input on some of our learning collaterals. 

Consultation format : 

  • Knowledge Exchange session on emerging priorities and challenges for water, waste water and sanitation in India. Presentations will be made by a few experts/organisations, followed by an open house discussion with a close group of 20-25 invited experts and organisations. We will broadly cover areas of urban water(conservation and drainage), waste water and sanitation, urban ground water, rural-urban continuum of water and waste watermanagement governance and management, water in the urban planning and climate change contexts, etc. How to work on the priority challenges, relevance of existing frameworks(IUWM, IWRM), how to incorporate a core learning focus in our work, how national and state level programs are addressing urban water and sanitation, what new areas to explore, research and collaborate. Sharing of experience of current and past work and suggestions for what could be prioritized as research, capacity building and advocacy priorities at national, state levels and city levels. 
  • Review and input to the learning collaterals of CSE: in two sessions. CSE will share the outline and structure of each of the learning collaterals : Green Infrastructure, WSUDP, Ground water and City Water Balance. And will invite inputs in terms of what could be prioritized, added or replaced, for structure and content of each collateral. With the aim of updating what we have as well as identifying as concretely as possible, what we should be focusing as core messages for each session of a training module or each section of a learning collateral. 

 CSE collaterals for discussion: 

  • Green Infrastructure (GI) and Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning (WSUDP): Illustrate the core issues, impact of urbanization in the global south, and the current paradigm of urbanization today. Outlining the scope for Green Infrastructure (GI) in context of urban town typologies and its role in making water sensitive and resilient urban settlements.
  • Urban Groundwater: Core issues and challenges of groundwater and different approaches forplanning & designing of groundwater management in urban area. Various tools & interventions and identifying gap between existing and expected policy & framework for its management.
  • City Water Balance (CWB): Existing framework for preparing CWB and identifying missing components of the city water balance.Inclusion of other approaches and methods to develop a city water balance plan with special reference to groundwater.  


Workshop Director Workshop Coordinator
Theme – Groundwater & City water balance
Workshop Coordinator
Theme – Green Infrastructure
Depinder Singh Kapur    
Water Programme, CSE
+91-11-40616000 (Ext: 286)
Deputy Programme Manager
Urban Water-Waste Programme
+91-11-40616000 (Ext: 312)

Senior Research Associate 
Urban Water- Waste Management 
Mobile: +91- 8699770153 





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