September 21-25, 2009
Mainstreaming decentralised wastewater recycling and reuse through research, policy advocacy and training. The objective is to build a movement across India and in South Asia for onsite wastewater management through networking and partnership with architects/planners, RWAs/institutions, local NGOs/CBOs, ULBs and parastatal agencies for implementation of model projects.
The 2009 Southwest monsoon has finally arrived in many parts of the country—with a vengeance in several places—leading to flash floods and loss of lives. With images of rain and news of reservoirs getting filled up pouring down TV sets, our macro-economists are seemingly clueless about the damage the delayed and deficient monsoon will cause. Agriculture plays a marginal role in the nation’s gdp numbers and so, even if the crops fail, it will not make a dent in the growth rate, they say.
How will India supply drinking water in cities? Many argue the problem is not inadequate water. The problem is the lack of investment in building infrastructure in cities and the lack of managerial capacities to operate the systems, once created. This line of thought then leads logically to policy reform, to invite private investment and hand over public water utilities to private parties to operate.
Every society must understand how the excreta it produces is managed. It teaches us many things about water, about waste, about technologies to clean, economics and politics: of who is subsidised to defecate in our societies. But, most importantly, it teaches us humility. We know so little about our own world. If we knew better, we would understand why we are failing to ensure our present and why we will all need to do things differently, if we want to safeguard our future.
Look out of the window the next time you travel by road or by train anywhere in India. Hit a human settlement, and you will see, heaps of plastic coloured garbage apart, pools of dirty black water and drains that go nowhere. They go nowhere because we have forgotten a basic fact: if there are humans, there will be excreta. Indeed, we have also forgotten another truth about the so-called modern world: if there is water use, there will be waste. Roughly 80 per cent of the water that reaches households flows out as waste.