IHUWASH project; a catalyst to improve urban WASH sector in Udaipur

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The delivery mechanism of IHUWASH makes it different from other ongoing WASH projects. IHUWASH not only focuses on WASH infrastructure development but also emphasises on building partnerships with and between public, civil society and private sector stakeholders, says Siddharth Sihag, Commissioner, Udaipur Municipal Corporation, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

How was the partnership between IHUWASH and Udaipur Municipal Corporation developed?

Udaipur, also known as the City of Lakes, is a major tourist destination in India and across the globe. Today, the city’s population is around five lakhs (0.5 million). Approximately 15 to 18,000 tourists arrive daily in the city during the peak tourist season, which is more than the state’s daily average of tourist arrival. The Udaipur Municipal Corporation is implementing all the three important national missions of Smart City, Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Through the implementations of these missions, the city’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure is significantly improving.

Even under Swachh Survekshan, Udaipur’s ranking has improved significantly from 310th rank in 2017 to 85th rank in 2018. To address the needs of the growing city, and to make the city, even more tourist friendly; Udaipur requires an improvement in the WASH sector, which would be sustainable in the long run, would cater to its future requirements, and is cost effective. Innovation Hub for Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IHUWASH) solutions project components are aligned with the all the national missions, and are towards building an ecosystem involving the government, industries, academia and citizens.

Citizens of Udaipur have always supported new initiatives and the city administration consciously decided to adopt and handhold projects like IHUWASH, which was proposed by National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) with the support of USAID. The project aimed to improve lifestyle of Udaipur citizens, and matched the needs of the Municipal Corporation. That’s how the Udaipur Municipal Corporation with support of city leadership decided to implement the IHUWASH project. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by UMC with NIUA in April 2017 to implement the project.

What were the challenges of WASH Sector in Udaipur and what has been the impact of this project in addressing those issues?

Major water resources for the city are its seven lakes. Udaipur is dependent on its lakes, which is directly or indirectly the life source of the city in terms of the surface water resources, tourism, and the ecosystem at large. Despite implementation of national missions; the city is rapidly growing and posing challenges in the WASH sector of Udaipur. Importantly, public sanitation facilities like public and community toilets and urinals maintenance are the key challenges for the city administration.

Moreover, as city’s sanitation infrastructure is being built up with the support of national missions, to manage the onsite sanitation system is still one of the challenges. Clean and safe drinking water in low socio-economic areas (slums) also needs some improvement. Under IHUWASH project, important components such as the Accelerator is providing support to source innovative solutions to address the WASH challenges of the city. The project has also provided innovative public and community prototype demonstration. To implement innovative solutions; trainings and capacity development of city officials have been developed through the WASH Lab established at the Geetanjali Institute of Technical Studies (GITS) at Udaipur.

How has the IHUWASH project been different from the other WASH projects undertaken by the Udaipur Municipal Corporation?

The delivery mechanism of IHUWASH makes it different from other ongoing WASH projects. IHUWASH not only focuses on WASH infrastructure development but also emphasises on building partnerships with and between public, civil society and private sector stakeholders. The project shares a common vision in improving the WASH outcomes. IHUWASH also provides an opportunity to learning and share the knowledge among cities, states and at national platforms.

How has the accelerator program under the IHUWASH project helped in finding innovative WASH solutions for Udaipur?

The Accelerator programme in IHUWASH project was designed to identify and support marketable innovations in WASH sector. In Udaipur, 13 innovative solutions were presented in accelerator event held April 2018. In the event, the innovators pitched their ideas, product or service delivery models to a panel of sector experts and municipal officials. From those 13 innovations presented; 5-6 innovation were meeting the WASH requirements of Udaipur. UMC is planning to pilot those innovations and map their effectiveness. Based on their success, they will be further up scaled.

How do you envision the partnership formed between the academia, business and other stakeholders under this project will help improve the WASH sector of the city?

Under the IHUWASH project, a partnership has been formed with GITS, which is a city based technical institute to support UMC. A tripartite agreement has been signed among UMC, NIUA and GITS with a defined roadmap. Apart from this; Indian Institute of Management at Udaipur has been identified as an incubation center to mentor and incubate innovate solutions. The private sector engagement through partnering with Udaipur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) also supports the implementation of IHUWASH in the city.

UMC has organized two city strategic meetings with the support of IHUWASH Udaipur city team, to bring together various stakeholders on one platform.

How is the IHUWASH project supporting the ongoing government initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Mission to address the WASH Challenges in Udaipur?

A team of two members from IHUWASH is placed in the UMC office. The team has provided regular inputs to the UMC, and has supported during the Swachh Survekshans conducted by the city officials by documentation of innovation case studies, giving training to the sanitation workers, helping the officials in e-learning courses, etc. This helped in improving the city’s rank in the Survekshan. The team has also supported in creating and organizing awareness activities like Global Handwashing Day with UMC.

The Municipal Corporation is providing public and community toilets at required locations, IHUWASH team has provided designs of these toilets, which has innovative features, and are inclusive in terms of gender aspects. These toilets are being built under SBM (U) support. In addition to these, IHUWASH team has plans to pilot test innovative solution sourced through Accelerator programme, provide opportunities for cross learning through trainings. Overall, in the long run; WASH Sector of Udaipur will be significantly benefited by various components planned under the IHUWASH project.

What is your message for IHUWASH and National WASH Summit?

I appreciate the sincere efforts put in by IHUWASH team for the holistic development of WASH scenario and hope they will continue extend their support for the betterment of Udaipur. I look forward to read about the various activities, achievements and articles on contemporary issues on this e-gov magazine. I wish all the very best for grand success of National WASH Innovation Summit 2018.

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