Period: February 2020 September 2020 

Funder/client: Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia

Access to clean water is vital for health, security, stability, and sustainable development. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of access to clean water in ensuring hygiene protocols can be followed to control the spread of the virus. Nowhere is the need for access to safe water and sanitation services more critical than in the cities of South Asia, where nearly 35 percent of the estimated population of 600 million city dwellers live in slum areas. These are rapidly turning into COVID-19 disaster hotspots, with a lack of clean water and living conditions where social distancing is practically impossible. Australia is recognised globally for its expertise in water management, and partner governments in India and Pakistan have recognised this expertise at the highest levels with specific water-focused Memoranda of Understanding being signed in the past two years. In order to design a new South Asia Water Security Initiative (SAWASI), IFSD’s principal Advisor Dr Hemant Ojha was contracted via a partnership association with Strategic Development Group. SAWASI builds on the lessons learnt from its predecessor Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) program which ran for eight years from 2012-2020 in two 4-year phases. 

Services delivered by IFSD:

The IFSD team provided leadership in undertaking a review of the biophysical, institutional, and policy aspects of water management and urban water security in the context of South Asia. IFSD professionals also contributed to the design of the SAWASI program, and engaged in over two dozen consultations with various DFAT posts in South Asia and in Canberra. The IFSD team was also involved in undertaking wider consultations in Australia’s water sector.