Shifting Grounds: Institutional transformation, enhancing knowledge and capacity to manage groundwater security in peri-urban Ganges delta systems

This research aims to ensure equitable sharing and sustainable management of groundwater across caste/class and gender of peri-urban communities in the Ganges delta of Bangladesh and India.

Key audiences to be targeted during the research include:

  • National (e.g. Water Resource Investigation Board, Government of West Bengal) and local city government actors (e.g. Khulna City Corporation and Khulna Development Authority, and Kolkata Municipal Corporation)
  • Peri-urban communities in Khulna and Kolkata (Sunarpore and Barrakpore Blocks; Phultala and Bathiagata Blocks)
  • The media, researchers and international policy makers



Urbanizing deltas in south Asia have seen rapid growth and change. In cities such as Khulna in Bangladesh and Kolkata in India, this has resulted in an increasing pressure on groundwater resources in peri-urban areas. Existing institutions fail to ensure an equitable sharing and sustainable use of groundwater resources in this changing environment, which is evident from the uncoordinated overexploitation of aquifers and a reduced access for vulnerable groups.

This project investigates institutional developments, looking at the dynamic interactions between different groundwater users, the groundwater systems and the influence of nearby cities. The insights should help local stakeholders to negotiate institutional transformations that support a more sustainable and equitable use of groundwater resources.

Research activities are combined with workshops to strengthen the negotiation capacities of local stakeholders. Khulna and Kolkata provide an excellent basis for an institutional comparison, being part of the same Ganges delta system, yet located in different countries.


Scientific article

Publication meant for a broad audience

Publical information


Project number

W 07.69.104

Main applicant

Prof. dr. ir. W.A.H. Thissen

Affiliated with

Technische Universiteit Delft, Faculteit Techniek, Bestuur en Management, Policy Analysis

Team members

Mr. P.S. Banerjee, Dr. P. Banerjee, Dr. A. Barua, Dr. ir. C.E. van Daalen, K. Debnath, S.L. Gomes, R. Hasan, Dr. ir. L.M. Hermans, Mr. Z. Hossain, K.F. Hossain, R. Hossain, Drs. R. Kempers, B. Majumdar, S. Majumdar, Dr. V. Narain, Dr. M. Salehin, Prof. dr. S. Sen, Prof. dr. M. Shah Alam Khan, Prof. dr. ir. W.A.H. Thissen


01/10/2014 to 30/09/2018