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Building Water Resilient Neighbourhood

Agra


The project is aimed at Building Water Resilient Neighborhoods in Agra. It's long-term aim is to repair and restore Agra's groundwater aquifers damaged by unchecked groundwater extraction. Five key interventions have been implemented in the city; a. rainwater harvesting at household and community level; b. recharging rainwater overflows into the ground to restore groundwater; c. treating and recycling, black and grey wastewater in stormwater drains by promoting an ecosystem of solutions - construction of household toilets, building bio-remedial treatment systems to treat and repurpose wastewater and reuse the water for urban agriculture/horticulture and discharge clean water into the river; d. mobilize communities to take ownership and stewardship for the water body in their settlements and plan and implement solution that shall repair its recharge abilities, which also control micro-flooding in these neighborhoods; and e. promoting behavior change in water use and extraction practices towards valuing and conserving the natural resource. Water resilience activities in Agra have had 3 significant results - economic, social and environmental. Economic impacts can be seen at the home, school and city level. The 7 community RWHs have harvested 693,500l rainwater between (2017-18), which people have used for drinking and cooking. Families are saving on buying water and in medical treatment costs as diarrhea declines. Schools with RWH tanks are water secure for one year and do not buy tanker supplies. Enrollment and attendance, especially of girls, is up. Teachers are motivated and are taking pride in greening schools. The city is estimated to have saved $5 million in energy costs in pumping, treating and supplying water to these neighborhoods. The DEWATS cleaned up the area, raised land values and nudged people to invest in house upgrades including adding toilets, adding to family wealth. Traditional well-building skills/methods used in construction are reviving a dying skill/creating a new economic opportunity for these artisans. Communities, who were at the core of the initiative have gained socially - with greater solidarity, empowerment, social respect and stronger safety nets; as they collectively manage water resources, reclaim public spaces, improve their neighbourhoods and foster place attachment. Environmentally, the project is a first step towards repairing Agra's damaged aquifers together with transforming slums into livable habitats. Communities are visibly cleaner and healthier without dirty water overflows.Use of natural construction material and techniques makes the process nearly carbon free and local farmers are switching from sewage to clean water farming with potential impacts on the food-chain. The full range of interventions in Agra have directly benefited over 10500 poor households (or 61000 people) in 24 Agra slums. The city has been supported to leverage US$1083076 + US$3300,000 for scaling up RWH and DEWATS under the SMART city plan.

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