The CRCWSC has cause for celebration with the announcement of an AUD $14 million grant to a global research consortium, announced on 24 January by the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy.

With the principles of water sensitive urban design at its core, the five year project will target a wonderful goal: providing the first empirical evidence that the principles of a Water Sensitive City can be successfully implemented to improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people. The Wellcome Trust (UK) awarded the prestigious grant – one of only four successes out of 600 applications – to the Monash University-led team for research that will potentially provide a blueprint for improving the lives of the billion plus people living in urban slums globally.

Water and sanitation are large challenges in such communities, in which profound health burdens result because inadequate water and sanitation services leave local environments polluted, and people exposed to faecal contamination. A water sensitive approach provides a promising alternative. But until now, governments and NGOs have lacked the evidence and demonstrations of its successful application in developing contexts.

In response, the new research project will deliver the first ever public health and environmental data on the outcomes of interventions that transform water infrastructure, management, and sanitation practices. By offering a robust proof-of-concept, the outcomes could potentially provide the basis for new water infrastructure policies and investment strategies for urban informal settlements worldwide.

In doing so, the research will build on lessons learned from the successful water management programs pioneered by Monash and the CRCWSC in Melbourne, China, Israel, and Singapore.

Together with Professor Karin Leder, and Project Director Professor Rebekah Brown, the CRCWSC’s own Professor Tony Wong and Dr Diego Ramirez–Lovering are central to the project’s leadership and vision. Both local and international partners are important parts of the upcoming work, with South East Water, Melbourne Water, and WaterAid Australia all contributing partners. And with the project to focus on infrastructure upgrades in Fiji and Indonesia, the Manila-based Asian Development Bank and its on-ground infrastructure projects are an integral part of the upcoming work.

The launch was also attended by Victorian CRCWSC partners, Chairman Ms Cheryl Batagol, and ADB representation via the special attendance of Mr Michel Dorval, Senior Technical Manager at the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility; and a dedicated video address by Dr Bambang Susantono, Vice President (Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development).

The CRCWSC is thrilled that recent advances in water sensitive urban design have opened the way for translating Water Sensitive City principles and innovations to a new, developing world context in urgent need of new thinking. With those same advances progressed in no small part by the momentum built by its researchers and partners, the CRCWSC looks forward to its continuing domestic projects; and to seeing water sensitive thinking expand to benefit some of the world’s most vulnerable urban communities.