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UNESCO and NIUA promote Data-driven Integrated Urban Water Management in Indian cities


Last month, UNESCO New Delhi in partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), India, launched a year-long project in the city of Gwalior for proliferating the application of Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM), as a means for enhancing its water-security and climate resilience. The project aims to develop an integrated water related database for the city, which will support the adoption of IUWM in future.

On 22 August 2023, an Inception Workshop was conducted at the Gwalior Municipal Corporation (GMC). The meeting was chaired by Shri Harsh Singh, Municipal Commissioner, GMC. Other senior officials including Smt. Neetu Mathur, CEO, Gwalior Smart City Development Corporation Limited; Sh. Vijay Raj, Addl. Commissioner, GMC; Shri. Shishir Shrivastava, Deputy Commissioner, GMC; and representatives from the Water Resources Department, the Public Health Engineering Department, and non-government stakeholders were also present. 

Rapid urbanization coupled with inefficient infrastructure and services, together with unplanned development, as well as climate change, has made the water-demand-supply-balance a pressing issue for many Indian cities. 

The holistic water management approach of IUWM (which aligns urban and economic development with water supply, sanitation, storm water- and wastewater-management) can help cities adapt to climate change and manage water supply more efficiently. However, one of the key barriers towards adoption of IUWM for the Indian cities has been the lack of a robust database on water-related information that is essential for informed decision making. 

Recognizing this, UNESCO and NIUA envisage supporting Indian cities by developing a framework for an IUWM database with identified water related parameters for supply, reuse, storm water, and resource management. The city of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh has been chosen as a pilot city to develop a database, which will act as a decision support tool for it and other Indian cities, in managing their water resources in an integrated manner.

Even though the IUWM approach has been widely reported, its application has been limited so far. The guideline developed through this project will offer a unique opportunity to implement data driven informed IUWM in Indian cities,

Dr. Benno Böer, Chief of Natural Sciences, UNESCO New Delhi

One of the key barriers to proliferation of IUWM based planning and implementation in urban areas is the lack of a robust database of water-related information that can inform decision making. While some of the data may be available in fragmented silos, it does little to facilitate integrated planning. The IUWM database will act as a starting point and help in converting intentions to action on the ground.

Shri. Hitesh Vaidya, Director, NIUA

The project is a result of long-term cooperation between UNESCO and the Republic of Korea through a programme “Sustainable Water Security for Human Settlements in Developing Countries under Climate Change”. Launched in November 2017 and funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea, the partnership fosters cooperation concerning the development of policies in support of countries in Africa and Asia to reduce their vulnerability of water to climate change and enhance their water security. 

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