Cities in India and South Asia are spiralling. Our climate is changing, making cities more prone to extreme rain events and floods while water scarcity and pollution continue to grow. Water problems jeopardise the survival of millions of people globally. Recent water crises in states of India - Chennai, Bihar and Assam over last summer have been devastating. Ground water, lakes and rivers in India are exhaustively overdrawn (a CSE study showing ground water sources 48% of urban water supply in India), yet no city in the country has adequate water supply. Fresh water sources are reducing due to rapid urban expansion. Cities encroach and pollute them as wastewater is disposed into water bodies untreated. Central Pollution Control Board indicates that 43,117 MLD (million litres per day) of untreated sewage flows into rivers across India. Additionally, 351 river stretches across the country are polluted due to discharge of both municipal and industrial waste water over the years (CPCB, 2018).

Presently, as we confront the new global enemy novel ‘coronavirus disease’ (COVID-19), the availability of water will be a crucial determinant for a successful outcome in this war. It is estimated that family of five would need around 100 to 200 litres of water per day only to wash hands. The current urban water management paradigm has its difficulties – it is energy and capital intensive, has legal and institutional gaps, creates and maintains wealth inequality and disregards our natural environment. It prioritises access for a select population and excludes the remaining. Research indicates that the urban poor around the world pay up to 50 times more for one litre of water than their better off neighbours, as they buy their water from private sellers (UN Water). Yet, our problems and solutions both usually involve big, technological fixes with little consideration of increasing vulnerability of the urban poor and national ecosystems.

Realizing the current water scenario and demand for this knowledge, the School of Water and Waste, AAETI, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is organizing an online course on “Water Woes: Understanding Urban Water Management” as part of a series of successful online programs that CSE has conducted since 2016. The course will provide a holistic perspective on today’s water scenario and emphasize the need to move towards a water secure future. It will help practitioners and decision makers with various other commitments to improve their subject-knowledge online in their own time, using a highly supportive and interactive learning platform. 


To help students, working professionals and environmental enthusiasts learn state-of-art concepts and principles of improved urban water management at their own comfort and pace. 


  • Identify gaps in the legal aspects of water provision access and governance.
  • Recognize the various external and internal stresses and shocks to water bodies in a city
  • Indicate the current problems with physical water infrastructure
  • Illustrate the increasing scope of a decentralised approach to wastewater management
  • Demonstrate inequity in access and pricing of water in a city and associated ripple effects among the urban poor
  • Suggest scope for interventions based on different problem scenarios and contexts.
  • Identify tools and approaches for urban water management 


Theme 1: Water and Development – What Works and What doesn’t

Theme 2: Making Water Everybody’s Business

Theme 3: Learning from Nature – The Dying Wisdom

Theme 4: Tools and Approaches to operationalize interventions 

Course Work

The course comprises of self-study, technological learning tools such as presentations, videos featuring case studies from various countries, interviews with experts, inspirational talks, and other audio material. It will facilitate interaction amongst participants through online forums and discussions. Also, it will be interactive with several interesting assessment exercises and quizzes. Participants will also get a chance to interact and learn from experts at CSE through online interactions and a webinar.