Girls in Samerth carrying water; Girls in Samerth carrying water;

WASH Basins India, Mumbai

How do you help marginalised communities manage water resources safely and sustainably?

As part of our Global Challenge initiative towards funding and supporting projects aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we are working with partners to ensure the sustainable management of water resources for some of India’s most marginalised communities.

The regions of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are populated by a range of tribes with poor socio-economic indicators including education, healthcare, income and access to basic services including water, sanitation and roads. 

Despite these regions being rich in forest produce as well as minerals and ores, communities suffer from a lack of engagement with the state government, in part due to their geographical remoteness and difficulty leveraging government funds. Both regions already face over-exploitation of groundwater due to poor water resources management, and a changing climate will create additional pressures in years to come. 

While institutions for various river basins in India do exist, there is no nationally consistent approach to water management that takes into account the needs of vulnerable communities.

Project Summary


5,000 given access to safe water and sanitation

26villages supported to manage resources

Responsible usage of water, through Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), has been problematic in India with recent projections indicating that India’s water demand may be twice the available supply by 2030 without major reform and investment ”

Integrated Water Resources Management

At the essence of the UN Sustainable development goals targets, IWRM is defined as promoting “the co-ordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems” by the United National Environment Programme.

We are teaming up with FRANK Water, a safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) charity who work with marginalised communities in India to help them understand the issues and develop their own answers to securing safe, clean drinking water and sanitation. As one of our strategic partners, they have longstanding connections with established NGO partners and communities in India.

We will advise on the development of a ‘WASH Basins Toolkit’. It is an agreed IWRM framework that will create a consistent approach to water management and extraction at a community and district level.

The toolkit will empower local government to control and manage water resources in a way that meets the real needs of their local area – whilst considering the national and international context, including climate change.

The desired outcome is to maximise the availability of water, sanitation and hygiene education in marginalised Indian communities, with a particular focus on the needs of women and girls.


Developing a model that can be shared and replicated.

Key to all projects under our Global Challenge is developing models that can be shared and replicated. The results of this project will be shared through partner networks, such as at the India WASH Conference, India Water Portal and National Planning Committees.

The project aims to develop and strengthen local institutional structures and communities to operate and maintain a village level water supply systems and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services.  The concept of sustainable, multi-stakeholder mapping, usage and maintenance of local, state and national water resources is a central element of this work.

Beyond India, the project has potential to offer real value at a larger scale in other global regions, including sub-Saharan Africa. 

Implementing a safer water model that can be shared and replicated in India and beyond. Implementing a safer water model that can be shared and replicated in India and beyond.

Measuring the impact of safer water

Following the introduction of the toolkit, data will be gathered on a number of SDG aligned indicators including the percentage of population using safely managed drinking water services, and sanitation and health data including proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services.

We will jointly attend events to share outcomes of the project, and share learning points with wider networks and communication channels. All partners in the project have links with NGOs and state governments, and have a track record of successfully advocating for changes to government programmes. The findings will allow in the long term a route to replicate the project to scale up the benefits of sustainable resource management.

Our commitment to sustainable development

The WASH basins project is part of Arup’s Global Challenge, reflecting our continued commitment to delivering excellent projects which have social value. 

Through the challenge, we have agreed to award grants of up to £1 million per year for five years to projects aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Global Challenge aims to have a positive impact on the communities by forming strong partnership approaches with organisations. We have focused on SDGs where we can deliver the greatest impact, based on our skills and experience. 

We have developed detailed plans and budgets for working with FRANK Water's local partners in Madhya Pradesh, and in Chhattisgarh for the first of three years of work.