UCCRTF supports ADB’s e-Marketplace on smart, inclusive, and resilient water management
The Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) supported ADB’s recent e-Marketplace event last month.
The e-Marketplace is a dedicated platform that connects stakeholders from ADB’s developing member countries with providers of digital technology and best practices on products, tools and technologies for delivering smart, resilient, safe, and inclusive water management and services delivery.
The e-Marketplace took place from 15-19th March (Opening and Closing plenary sessions and 52 interactive sessions) and attracted over 2,000 participants. Especially 58 companies and organizations from 13 countries exhibited their digital solutions through 52 virtual booths which have been put live until the 31th of March on ADB event web site. The event titled “Catalysing Innovations and Digitization for Safe, Sustainable, Resilient, and Inclusive Water Management” brought together government officials, water services and management solutions providers, development professionals, academia, and the private sector to discuss innovative solutions to water management challenges through interactive sessions, plenary discussions and 52 virtual booths.
West Bengal Drinking Water Sector Improvement Project
The opening plenary of the e-Marketplace focused on rural and bulk water services delivery. It showcased the West Bengal Drinking Water Sector Improvement Project (WBDWSIP). The UCCRTF - under the Urban Financing Partnership Facility - and Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction have provided support to WBDWSIP on making services under this project inclusive, resilient, and safe.
Launched in 2018, the WBDWSIP will provide safe and sustainable drinking water to over 1.65 million people in the arsenic, fluoride, and salinity- affected areas of Bankura, North 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur districts of West Bengal. It will introduce an innovative and sustainable institutional framework and advanced technology for smart water management to enable efficient service delivery in project districts.
Three publications supported under WBDWSIP were also presented at the opening plenary: (i) Guidelines for Drinking Water Safety Planning for West Bengal; (ii) Water and Sanitation Plan for Brahmandiha GP in Bankura, West Bengal; and (iii) Measuring the Impact of West Bengal Drinking Water Sector Improvement Project: A Baseline Study. These were developed in partnership with the government, various ADB departments, and external partners including the World Health Organisation.
In the panel discussion, Shantanu Mitra of UK FCDO, one of the funding agencies of UCCRTF, stressed the need to scale up these innovative and smart technology with clear focus on enhancing the resilience of the poor and vulnerable. “It is quite clear that the next generation of water systems will encompass digital technologies – from smart devices, to big data, to interoperability approaches.” he said. “This has great potential to deliver huge benefits to communities for equality, reliability, resilience and sustainability.”
After the opening plenary participants were able to choose attend interactive sessions that featured 52 innovations from solutions providers from 13 countries. These were showcased through interactive ‘virtual booth’ Zoom session where organizations promoted their solutions to water issues and answered questions from participants. A wide range of digital solutions were featured covering many aspects of water management including basins, utilities, assets, efficiency, and sanitation.
UCCRTF’s SPADE tool presented during the closing plenary
During the closing plenary experts from the European Space Agency, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Suez, Government of West Bengal, and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay shared insights on next steps toward safe, sustainable, resilient and inclusive water management.
The plenary also featured the UCCRTF-supported Spatial Data Analysis Explorer (SPADE) platform. Presented by Dr Virinder Sharma, Senior Climate Change and Urban Development Adviser at the ADB, SPADE provided a clear example of how digital technologies can support an integrated approach to water management.
Norio Saito of ADB’s South Asia Department, presented the next steps from the e-Marketplace which include the publication of an e-book in May 2021 featuring research and findings from the activity; and recommendations to continue collaboration and facilitate adoption of digital technologies in ADB's programming.
Some key take-aways from the event include:
Water security, safety and resilience is fundamental to human health and well-being and underpins social and economic development. As highlighted by the COVID-19, access to safe and reliable water is a vital and first line of defence against such pandemics.
Digitization is a key aspect of achieving resilience in water and sanitation management. Digitizing water operations can enhance services and improve safety throughout the entire water cycle.
Digitization supports evidence-based decision-making – providing deeper visibility into operational systems. This facilitates real-time monitoring allowing matching of supply and demand; identification of asset failures; and deployment of appropriate solutions in a timely manner.
Basic technologies are available, but innovation is further needed to support application of these technologies in the urban and rural water systems. The bigger challenge, which is scaling up, requires not only support to innovators, but also multistakeholder collaboration, and providing enabling environment towards public-private partnerships and ensuring sufficient access to finance from idea formation up to commercialization.
When applying these smart and innovative technologies, there must be a clear focus towards prioritizing poor and vulnerable communities. Communities must be treated as active partners and designers in shaping up technology – thereby, contributing to empowerment of communities and achieving inclusion.