Project on fit-for-purpose water sensitive design for fast growing liveable cities in India

Granted under the Cooperation India – the Netherlands programme

13 May 2019

There is a need for an integrated systems approach in developing interrelated technological, institutional and financial solutions for sustainable urban water management. The newly funded research programme ‘Water4Change’ addresses the complex challenges to urban water systems faced by fast-growing cities in India resulting from population growth, rapid urbanisation and the effects of climate change. This funding is a result of the joint call on Urban Water Systems of NWO and the Indian Government Department of Science & Technology (DST) which included a Sandpit procedure.

Picture: / Paul Prescott

The research programme ‘Water4Change, fit-for-purpose water sensitive design for fast growing liveable cities’ focusses on new approaches in managing and using environmental resources to be able to respond to contemporary and converging trends, crises and risks. These include natural disasters, economic crises, social inequality and climate and demographic change. The main applicants are Dr T. Kuzniecow Bacchin (Delft University of Technology) and Prof. Mitthan Lal Kansal (Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR)).

The interdisciplinary Indian-Dutch consortium of the research programme formed during a Sandpit in Delhi in November 2018. This is an interactive brainstorm workshop, in which a selected group of Indian and Dutch researchers from different complementary disciplines came together in a creative, free-thinking environment - away from their everyday routines and responsibilities – to jointly design innovative research programmes on urban water systems. Out of the three research programmes that were designed during this Sandpit and developed into full proposals after, ‘Water4Change’ was selected for funding.

Summary of the programme proposal


India is a country which is rapidly growing into urban agglomerations showing infrastructure deficits and adaptation gaps in response to current and future climatic, societal and economic change. While key drivers are well understood and technological solutions exist, this will be insufficient to deliver the transformative changes needed to pro-actively deal with and respond to these challenges.

Water as a basic necessity for life is both an agent and a catalyst of positive change if managed in a context sensitive way. Therefore, to facilitate long-term sustainability and resilience of urban water systems, a holistic, integrative, fit-for-purpose and socio-ecological approach is required. Governance, land-use planning, technology, infrastructure design and societal behaviours are dimensions that in combination determine ‘equilibrium’ solutions that will continue to change in the future.

By synergistically connecting four realms for the delivery of change, the programme will develop an integrative and applicable water sensitive design framework for liveable fast growing secondary cities in India.


Main applicants:

  • Dr T. Kuzniecow Bacchin, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
  •  Prof. Mitthan Lal Kansal, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR), India


  • C.A. Bons MSc, Deltares, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Manmohan Kapshe, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), India
  • Prof. Vinay Mohan Das, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), India
  • Prof. Yogesh Kumar Garg, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), India
  • Dr Puthenveedu Sadsivanpillai Harikumar, Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), India
  • K.H. Hölscher, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, the Netherlands
  • Dr Mona Iyer, CEPT University, India
  • I.J. Krukkert MSc, IRC Wash, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Pranab Kumar Mohapatra, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar (IITG), India
  • Dr ir. S.J. Oude Elberink, Universiteit Twente, Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), the Netherlands
  • Dr M. Radhakrishnan, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands

Cooperation India

The Netherlands and India are long-term partners in international research collaboration. NWO shares partnerships with the Indian Department of Science & Technology (DST), the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Indian Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). The cooperation focuses on research in which the Netherlands is outstanding and were India has much to offer. NWO and the Indian partners have built a relationship of mutual trust and benefit to each other.

NWO runs joint bilateral calls together with the Indian partners every year. The focus is on joint research projects for three to four years. For the bilateral call in 2018, NWO and DST have adopted a mission-oriented, impact-focused approach, with one large coherent, multidisciplinary research programme.

Source: NWO