International Water and Communities: Water Research in India: A Diary

Meena Palaniappan 

For three months in 2005-2006, Pacific Institute Senior Associate Meena Palaniappan conducted research in India as part of a Fulbright fellowship. Her objectives included researching and implementing effective water and wastewater projects that address community involvement in water services, alternative wastewater treatment technologies, and demand-side management approaches to water management.

Water is the very essence of life, yet critical problems of water pollution and water scarcity persist throughout the world. In India, the single largest cause of ill health and death among children is diarrhea, which kills nearly half a million children each year. Over 100 million people in India do not have access to a safe drinking water supply, and nearly 700 million people (70% of the total population) do not have access to sanitation. With the urban population projected to reach 50% of total population by 2025, India is facing enormous infrastructure challenges to provide water and wastewater services to urban residents. This is particularly difficult in the rapidly growing informal settlements located on the outskirts of cities or along waterways within cities.

In a series of diary entries, Palaniappan elaborated on her experiences abroad:

12/28/05: Water Troubles in Chennai

01/11/06: The Holy Grail

01/13/06: Counting Toilets in the New Millennium

01/23/06: Happy Pongal!

01/25/06: What Would Gandi Do?

02/03/06: Smelling Like Petrol