A Collaborative Approach to Water Management

The growing demand for water, its dwindling supply, mismanagement of water resources, and water pollution, all of it together has led to a state of crisis. In order to solve this outstanding challenge of ensuring equitable distribution of drinking water to all, it has become imperative to bring about new cross-sectoral partnership considering the huge cost to be incurred. I read an article, that talks about the emerging need for public-private partnership model and the contribution of numerous international organizations in the Indian water sector. The author writes:

While water supply and sanitation activity has largely been in government purview, a number of private opportunities are coming up for treatment, distribution and recycling applications. The latest draft of national water policy released in June talks of how “the private sector can be encouraged to become a service provider in public-private partnership model to meet agreed terms of service delivery.” Urban development minister Kamal Nath announced recently that second phase of Jawaharlal Nehru urban renewal mission (JNNURM) would be launched in November. Under the mission over $40 billion would be spent in the next five years on water supply and sanitation. Private contracting fir­ms and technology-providers in trea­tment, pumping, efficient network creation, automation and sewage treatment are bound to tap this multi-billion business.

A number of international enterprises like GE, Siemens and IBM have entered the water sector in the past decade. Large Indian companies like Tatas, Jindal, Essar, Mahindra & Mahindra have explored opportunities in water. Many international companies from North America, Europe, Israel, Singapore, Japan and Australia have also entered and grown their presence in India’s water sector. Multilateral funding from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and JICA in the social water sector is also on the rise. A number of financial investors are also tracking the water sector and investing in the business. This has huge implications for the growth and future character of the water sector. Clearly, water is a sunrise sector and is likely to see many more serious players testing the waters soon.

Equitable Water is one of the four challenge tracks for the fourth edition of the Design Public Conclave, to be held in November this year. Through the Conclave, we aim to bring together a range of experts from different sectors of society and provide them a platform to come up with innovations to solve these challenges. Working with the theme of ‘Conversation, Collaboration, Partnership’, we hope to develop actionable solutions, that can be taken forward through collaborations and partnerships.

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