Ongoing projects

Performance Assessment for Urban Water and Sanitation (PAS) (2009)

The Performance Assessment System for urban water and sanitation service delivery aims to develop better information on urban water and sanitation performance through the use of performance indicators and benchmarks and help state and local governments improve UWSS services.  PAS Project is funded by the 'Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation' since 2009.
This action research was motivated by the current lack of reliable and updated information about operational and financial performance of urban water supply and sanitation services. While a significant new investment in urban water and sanitation is made, its impact on service delivery is not known. To address this situation, it was imperative to develop systems to have good and reliable performance information on a regular basis for our cities.
A Performance Assessment Framework was developed with an online portal for UWSS service assessment. These were aligned with the national Service Level Benchmarking initiative and the Centre was designated as National Technical Support Partner to MoUD for SLB. The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Central Finance Commissions have included publication of SLB in government gazette as one of conditions to be met by State governments to avail performance grants.
Initially covering only Gujarat and Maharashtra, the online module has now been extended to a total of 6 Indian states including Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Assam and Jharkhand. More recently, all SMART cities have also been included and the coverage now stands at 1000+ cities of India. With this database, CWAS develops various databooks, information dashboards and analysis reports. This data has also been used for improvement plans and research studies in 70+ cities under various projects at CWAS.
PAS is now exploring links with AMRUT, SBM II, Jal Jeevan Mission and PeyJal Sarvekshan. CWAS has also set up a Water Governance Hub in partnership with SIWI and NIUA to align our work with the re-emerging focus on wait in national development discourse.
In 2019, we celebrated 10 years of this project with PAS@10 event

Technical support to the state government of Maharashtra on urban sanitation and FSSM (2019)

CWAS has been supporting implementation of Swachh Maharashtra Mission for Urban areas (SMMUA) since 2015. This was instrumental in making all cities in Maharashtra ODF in 2017. With this, the Government of Maharashtra launched a sustainability charter for ODF and embarked on the next stage of making all cities ODF+ and ODF++ as per Swachh Bharat mission frameworks.  Under this project funded by BMGF in 2019, CWAS aims to provide continued support to SMMUA through a “technical support unit”. The TSU has facilitated development of a state FSSM strategy for ensuring safe treatment and disposal of faecal waste in all 384 cities and is actively providing implementation and extensive capacity building support for the same. This includes planning, design, scale up and monitoring of co-treatment options and independent FSTPs across the state. So far, 70+ cities are practicing co-treatment and 160+ FSTPs are functional.
Under this project, CWAS also continues to provide support to Wai and Sinnar cities as it has been doing since 2013. The next set of activities in the state deal with scaling up of scheduled desludging and gender mainstreaming in sanitation based on examples of Wai and Sinnar.
The TSU also provides regular support to the Swachh Maharashtra Mission for facilitating ODF/ODF+/ODF++ certifications, capacity building for annual Swachh Sarvekshan and preparing for National Challenges and directives related to Swachh Bharat Mission. .
The project also consists of a component on Institutional building of CWAS as a Center of Excellence for Urban Sanitation

Citywide Inclusive Sanitation – Wai (2018)

The City Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) initiative is globally supported by multiple agencies and organisations where CWIS cities are expected to move towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal(SDG) for sanitation to ensure safe, inclusive, and financially sustainable sanitation services, and serve as global benchmarks. Under an initiative by the BMGF, eight cities were selected worldwide to demonstrate the implementation of CWIS principles. Wai is one such city in Maharashtra.
CWAS has been supporting the city of Wai for sanitation planning under various projects since 2013. Under the CWIS – Wai project funded by BMGF since 2018, CWAS has continued this support. The aim is to operationalize and sustain ODF+, then move towards ODF++ by creating an enabling environment for FSSM. The project is supporting studies and interventions for inclusive service delivery across the value chain particularly in respect to low income communities, gender mainstreaming and sanitation worker welfare.

Making Sinnar ODF+ and ensuring sustainability (2017)

Sinnar is also one of the cities being supported by CWAS for sanitation interventions since 2013. In 2017, the city had been declared ODF and was already working on plans to set up an FSTP and scheduled desludging services. This project funded through a CSR grant by HSBC is intended to demonstrate CSR role towards enhancing sanitation investments already made by the city instead of the typical investments for infrastructure construction. It provides continued support to  Sinnar for sustaining ODF status and operationalizing ODF+/++. The ODF-S component includes activities for improved IHHT coverage, school sanitation and public toilets while the ODF+/++ component consist of activities for monitoring desludging, FSTP enhancement, greywater management and management of future corpus funds.

Support to Kolhapur and Satara for FSSM (2020)

This project, funded by the HT Parekh Foundation in 2020 aims to develop and implement citywide FSSM plans for the cities of Satara and Kolhapur with special focus on slums. The FSSM plans propose scheduled desludging of septic tanks in pilot zones of both cities, co-treatment at STP in Kolhapur and FSTP expansion in Satara. Monitoring systems will be set up for safe desludging and treatment and the treatment plants are to be developed as sanitation resource centres. These activities will be supported by capacity building of city officials.

Capacity Building of Cities as part of the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform (Phase III) (2020)

CWAS is part of the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform (SCBP) set up by the NIUA in 2016. As sector experts, CWAS team supports the SCBP for developing training modules and conducting capacity building workshops for sanitation stakeholders and decision makers.
Under this project, which constitutes phase III of this continued support, CWAS is developing a training module on financing and contracting options for FSSM. Post development, training workshops will be conducted for appropriate audience.


The Water4Change research program aims to address the complex challenges of urban water systems faced by the fast-growing secondary cities in India. It is co-funded by the Indian Government's Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for a period of 5 years, i.e., 2019 to 2024. CEPT University is one of the 5 Indian consortia partners in the project, while the others are IIT Roorkee, IIT Gandhinagar, MANIT Bhopal, and CWRDM Calicut. In addition, we have six partner institutes from the Dutch side, including IHE Delft, TU Delft, DRIFT-Erasmus, University of Twente, IRC Wash, and Deltares. All these 11 partners have collaborated through four work packages, each having a fixed set of focus areas. Work Package 1 is on 'Socio-cultural water-sensitive behavior,' Work Package 2 is on 'Spatial Ecological Water Sensitive Planning and Design,' Work Package 3 on 'Socio-ecological appropriate technology and infrastructure,' and Work Package 4 is on 'Water Sensitive Governance,' which integrates various WPs through a governance lens. The overall program is unique in understanding the evolving conditions, constraints, and opportunities posed by the four realms and determining solutions' applicability and future change.

Knowledge partner to Piramal foundation

CWAS is a knowledge partner to Piramal Foundation since 2019, for safely managed water solutions to address the underserved i.e “beyond the pipe”. Under this project, Piramal Foundation’s water initiative- Sarvajal, CEPT and Nagpur Municipal Corporation collaborated to conduct a study to assess drinking water facilities in select slums of Nagpur city. This research aimed to explore the viability of off-grid solutions and determine the interest of slum communities in such solutions including their readiness to pay. A CWVI (Composite Water Vulnerability Index) tool was designed to rank slums on various parameters for improvising service delivery.

Past Projects

Bringing sustainable and equitable sanitation services to small and medium towns (Phase I and II) (2012-14)

In response to sanitation emerging as a national priority in the past decade, the Center has focused its work on urban sanitation. This project was funded by the United Kingdom Department for international Development (DfiD) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). It leveraged the support of AIILSG and the state level water board – MJP (Maharashtra Jal Pradhikaran) and its training wing (MEETRA).
The key issues addressed by this project were the lack of universal access to quality sanitation services in medium and small towns. This project piloted our approaches for non-networked solutions and private sector engagement in two towns in the Indian state of Maharashtra – Wai, a small sized, low growth town near Pune and Sinnar, a medium sized, high-growth town near Nasik. These towns presented distinct challenges in sanitation provision, and were the “laboratory” for us to test approaches that can be applied to other small and medium towns, as well as to unserved areas in larger towns.
City sanitation plans were prepared and subsequently implementation support was also provided. The focus was on making the cities Open Defecation Free (ODF) and using non-piped solutions for “beyond the toilet” through Integrated Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM). Both cities passed council resolutions endorsing these decisions. “Own toilet schemes” with subsidies for constructing own toilets were rolled out by both cities even before launch of Swachh Bharat Mission. Both Wai and Sinnar are now ODF, in alignment to SBM. For FSSM, the cities set up one of the first Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants in Maharashtra and engaged private players to carry out scheduled desludging of septic tanks which was another first as no other city has implemented such a desludging programme in India. The Centre also explored innovative sanitation financing options under this project.
Both cities have been declared ODF++ under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Lessons from this experience are now being applied to provide support to all cities in Maharashtra.

Supporting sustainable sanitation services at scale in India (2016 – 2019)

CWAS supports the Government of Maharashtra in implementing the Swachh Maharashtra Mission for Urban Areas (SMMUA). In the first phase of this support, Government of Maharashtra successfully declared all cities in the state as ODF. This project was funded by BMGF between 2016 and 2019 during which CWAS developed guidelines and resource materials for making cities Open Defecation Free, sustaining this status and planning for citywide Faecal Sludge and Septage Management services. Various training and capacity building activities were carried out throughout the state and the centre’s “strategic support unit” (SSU) provided direct implementation support to the SMMUA.
Financing Faecal Sludge and Septage Management services in the state of Maharashtra 2017 – 2018
This sector of research was intended to explore potential sources of financing capital and operating expenditure for FSSM in urban India. A landscape study was conducted for various sources of finance for FSSM in the focus states of Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Subsequently, feasible business models were developed for FSSM. The emphasis on these frameworks was to capture different financing sources and to ensure that adequate funding is available for both capital and O&M expenditures.

Capacity Building of Cities as part of the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform (Phase I and II) (2016-2018)
Under Phase I and II of this project, CWAS provided support to the SCBP in capacity building activities, training content development and hosting exposure visits on making and sustain ODF status in cities, benchmarking for on-site sanitation, implementing FSSM and on private sector participation in FSSM.

Swachh Maharashtra Platform – Facilitating CSR investments in safe sanitation

Hand-washing facilities in Sinnar with support from Arghyam (2020)
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, CWAS through funding from Arghyam has supported Sinnar Municipal Council (SMC) to provide pedal operated hand washing (HW) facilities at 22 critical locations in the city. These HW facilities are further operated and maintained by the SMC with support of the Self-help groups (SHG) and community members.

Preparation of an Action Plan for Slum Free City under Rajiv Awas Yojana for Ahmedabad (July 2011 – September 2014)

Equity in service delivery is an important theme in PAS. PAS team approached the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), to assess water and sanitation services in Ahmedabad slums. AMC had carried out a slum survey that served as a baseline for the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). PAS team was given a contract to prepare a Slum Free City Action Plan for Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. One of the objectives of the plan was to achieve universal access to water and sanitation services for slums. PAS created a robust slum information system for Ahmedabad. Based on information, a slum atlas for Ahmedabad was prepared.

Knowledge Management and Advocacy Partnership for Participatory Ground Water Management in Bhuj (2015-2017)

Under this project funded by Arghyam, CWAS was a knowledge partner for ground water management activities in the city of Bhuj.  Support was provided for documentation of processes related to Participatory Ground Water Management (PGWM) carried out by Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT) in Bhuj.  A toolkit for Urban Water Security was also prepared.