Overview – WATSAN center at IITGN

WIN Foundation WatSan Center at IIT Gandhinagar

The strategic intent of the newly formed WIN foundation at IIT Gandhinagar is derived from the mission objectives of the Wheels Global Foundation (WGF) and Niswarth foundation of Amneal Pharmaceuticals. In 2013, WGF was founded as an independent 501©3 to provide innovative technology driven solutions to the challenges that affect the global rural population in six areas; Water, Healthcare, Energy, Education, Livelihood and Sustainability. The organization partners with other national and international NGO’s and non-profit organizations, working in collaboration to provide assistance to a larger rural population globally.

 

The goal of WGF since its inception in 2003 was, to increase access, communication, and funding for technologies and/or charitable missions aimed at improving the living conditions of citizens across the globe through the implementation of sustainable programs. As a corollary to it the Niswarth foundation of Amneal pharmaceuticals joined hands with WGF and inaugurated the WIN foundation at IIT Gandhinagar on 30th January 2018. The Foundation will work as a non-profit organization that will fund research and innovation for water quality and sanitation focusing on maternal and child health issues, the Foundation’s office is located at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) Research Park, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat

 

The WATSAN program will focus on developing new, cost-effective ways to treat water, reduce water contamination in rivers / aquifers and work to improve policies related to drinking water like finding a cost-effective method to bring clean drinking water to rural area and work with international governing bodies to form public-private partnerships, according to a press release. The program will also champion and develop water purification devices which will bring clean drinking water to rural areas by using technologies such as slow sand filters and will research ways to reduce the costs for delivering potable water, applying technologies such as reverse osmosis and desalination.

 

As an extension to this, the WIN foundation sees potential scope for expanding their contribution to effective demonstration of the related technologies on ground and promoting means of their implementation and mainstreaming, in collaboration with potential state, civil society and Industry partners in India. While there is a broad understanding of the gaps that exist at the implementation level in this sector, the scale and expanse of it needs reassessment in different geographic and socio-economic / environmental contexts in India. While there are generic similarities across various States, there are unique features, which need to be identified and redressed, based on evidences and assessments at different levels.

 

Therefore, the framework for every solution / intervention supported by WIN would include clear phases of

1) Situation and scoping;

2) DPRs for Demonstration of solution(s);

3) Development of enterprise level solutions and mechanisms for mainstreaming in to sector operations.

 

There is critical need for systematic assimilation of emerging technologies and innovations in the WATSAN sector, by the designated provincial and local authorities in charge of the sector operations. In terms of value-addition, the role sector partners like learning institutes of repute and active civil society partners (like IITG and WINF) can make major contributions by way of technical hand-holding support, at the levels of concept design and its implementation in terms of nuts and bolts. This would lead to, setting of better standards of delivery and also to building capacity of other partners. The industry and market would have a crucial role in successful mainstreaming of the technology solutions and their sustainability. There is evidently a lack of continuous consultative dialogue between sector managers and affiliated industry / market. This has probably led to delays in mainstreaming of innovations and technology in this sector in India.

 

Proposed organization structure, programming support and Work Phasing

We start with the Director WIN WATSAN and two project associates. Work phasing and time lines will have to be finalised after formal consultations with the specific partners, namely 1) IIT Gandhinagar; 2) IIT Bombay; alongside the respective state government and sector partners. Therefore, the work phasing for the first year would have an exhaustive period of consultations and formalization of instruments of partnerships. Similarly, the budgeting for the WIN programme is provisional and allocated for the proposed areas of interventions.

 

In addition to the financial grants at the disposal of the WIN foundation, the Human Resources would form the most important part of their support to the sector. The policy in this regard would be to engage the M Tech and PhD students from IITG though time bound internships and hands-on learning studio exercises for pre-qualifying UG students. A strategy of infusing these resources alongside the chosen project implementation partners would be adopted across the board. This would bring the synergy between experienced implementation partners and inherent technical excellence of IITG together. Active involvement of the highly qualified teaching staff of IITG would also benefit them with the opportunities provided by the foundation-projects, with the ground realities.