The School of Water and Waste (SW&W)

CSE has played a significant role in highlighting issues around Water, especially in creating awareness for an urgent need to address citywide sanitation and effective Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM). For instance, in 2011 CSE developed a policy paper on Septage Management in India which influenced the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to issue an Advisory Note on SeptageManagement in 2013, followed by the National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) policy in 2017. The organisation is a designated Centre of Excellence (CoE) of the MoHUA in Water and Wastewater Management (WWM) for capacity building and mainstreaming reforms across India. In continuation of these efforts, a SW&W was proposed as part of the bigger agenda to build sustainable capacities among practitioners around city wide water and sanitation. Among the six Schools planned for the campus, it will be the first to begin.

The school aims to establish policy principles, innovative technologies, and implementation strategies for city wide water and sanitation management, which will lay the foundations for a water and waste-prudent society. This experience needs to be leveraged to share solutions with other countries in the developing world—from South America, Africa and Asia. These regions are facing similar struggles in meetingthe needs of urban populations under the current water and wastewater paradigm. Thus, the school is meant as a capacity building hub for urban sanitation across India and the global South. It will seek collaborations and MoUs with key governments and other knowledge partners including national and international institutions (academic and research), and NGOs. A crucial component of the school is the operationalizing of a referral laboratory on septagemanagement which will test different tools, approaches, and efficiency of various decentralized wastewater systems.

The SW&W envisions scholarships for participants and supporting research fellows along with targeted research and pedagogical development. A Fellows programme will be designed to attract leading researchers and mentors to the SW&W. Fellows will assist with course curriculum development, host seminars, conduct research and produce working papers as well as serve as adjunct faculty for courses at AAETI. 

A trans-disciplinary and experienced faculty along with an annual training calendar will provide rigour to the distinct courses on water and sanitation. Capacitating different practitioners on skills and issues of WS&S, especially in the urban landscape, will trigger a holistic/integrated working of this sector.

Trans-disciplinary courses with a double loop learning approach will make the participants question existing epistemologies of disciplines including technology, environment, finance, culture, development, politics and gender, which affect the management of water and sanitation. Questioning of status quo helps in bridging the gap between what a community might want and what has been proposed for them, which may or may not be in sync. Such questioning of the status quo will lead to arriving at workable/implementable solutions which are accepted by the communities.

There will be approximately 20 weeks of trainings each year, including online courses, short-duration ‘certification’ courses, as well as long term ‘flagship’ courses, which will capacitate a minimum of 1,000 participants over a three-year timeframe. Scholarships will catalyse the participation of at least 700 participants over three years. In addition, the school would organize international conclaves that would act as a platform of knowledge exchange and network building.

Intended Outcomes

Although in its incipient stages, the SW&W has outlined some plausible goals for the near future. The school will actively:

  • Publish articles and reports covering diverse aspects of water and sanitation sector (political, technological, social, financial and environmental) including contributions to the magazine Down to Earth.
  • Foster and build upon national and international knowledge exchange programmes
  • Showcase and learn from best practices in the global South, developing as a global centre of knowledge exchange.
  • Develop a cadre of practitioners who will disseminate knowledge by making changes on ground, thus creating multipliers.

Unique Features

The institute offers/conducts several short and long-term courses as well as training programmes. The inter-disciplinary nature of these programmes and courses allows participants to critically evaluate and understand issues which cut across diverse themes like environment, culture, technology, policy, inequality, development, gender, and justice.

The short-term courses comprise technical workshops (e.g. Building rainwater harvesting systems), policy briefings (e.g. ecological poverty, food safety), and hands-on training programmes (e.g. Environment Impact Assessment). Apart from these, there are month-long Certificate programmes on environment/development issues which let participants experience perspectives from the global south on diverse themes and issues relating to the environment.  The courses provide a combination of classroom seminars, lectures, and field visits, enabling a holistic on-ground perspective among the participants. Faculty for the courses is drawn from CSE’s experienced research and programme staff, along with development professionals, eminent environmentalists, noted academicians, grassroots activists and prominent policy makers, as guest lecturers.