Since April 2014, Biome has been working on a multidisciplinary research initiative funded by the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) lead by an international partnership of organizations that includes the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (STPHI) and Sandec (Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag).
The ‘Resource Recovery and Reuse: From Research to Implementation Project’ aims to find enterprises and business models that have demonstrated their capacity for the safe reuse of waste, and to find ways in which these business models can be adopted or scaled up within their own setting or in other regions. The funding partner, SDC, has indicated that it would be inclined towards funding some of the scaling up activities after the research is completed. The project currently runs in four cities, Kampala, Lima, Hanoi and Bangalore with the aim that lessons can be shared across different contexts. Biome leads the institutional component of the research in Bangalore (the other components are lead by other partners that include the Community Health Department at St. Johns Hospital, IISc and Waste Wise Trust). This involves understanding both the larger environment around which activities and businesses that work with waste have arisen as well as the more localised conditions that influence the way institutions operate and function. Together with partners, our work has involved selecting a small number of interesting cases that demonstrate safe reuse and in order to understand how they function. Research was conducted primarily through interviews with the most important government agencies that deal with waste and wastewater, businesses that are at the centre of this work, and desk based study on the larger context of solid waste and wastewater management in the city.
In September, a short paper based on the research conducted for the project was presented at the 37th WEDC International Conference held in Hanoi, Vietnam. The conference has a long history with a strong focus on presenting the work of practitioners from the WASH sector working in developing countries and this year’s theme was ‘Sustainable Water and Sanitation Services for all in a Changing World’.
The paper, titled ‘Formal Approaches to Wastewater reuse in Bangalore’ was presented at the session on Sanitation Institutions and looked at the different approaches taken by the BWSSB and the KSPCB with regards to wastewater. It presents the contrasting perspectives of the utility and the regulator - the former’s concern with managing wastewater infrastructure and its approach of taking delicate steps towards expanding public treatment and reuse, while the latter’s challenge in regulating pollution and monitoring the city’s large number of private treatment plants.
This is the first of three posts that will discuss the research and findings of the institutional component of the RRR project, whose first phase ends in December this year.