On 3 February, UNESCO and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), the thinktank of India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, launched a white paper on “A Qualitative Framework to Evaluate the Extent of Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) Implementation in Indian Cities & Applying the Framework to Delhi”.
The existing knowledge about IUWM and its role in managing the urban water sector is quite comprehensive, however, the challenge appears to be in translating this knowledge into practice. To do so would require a thorough understanding of the city’s water dynamics from multiple perspectives— hydrology, economics, institutional mechanisms, governance, and social structures, among others. The white paper is targeted to address this need. It has established a framework with a set of ten criteria that can help qualitatively evaluate the extent of IUWM implementation in a city, with a view to provide useful insights for areas that a city should target in order to progressively move up the IUWM ladder. The criteria are categorized under three heads—enabling environment, institutional arrangements, and management instruments. The paper then evaluated the capital city of India, Delhi, against the designed framework to assess the city’s standing in terms of IUWM adoption.
An element of subjectivity is always associated with qualitative assessments. Hence, it is important to highlight that the framework has been designed as an "introspective" instrument for cities to make a honest internal assessment of where they stand in terms of IUWM. In its current form, the framework should not be used for benchmarking or comparing cities. This paper hopes to trigger some critical thinking and discussion among water managers and decision makers that can set the stage for tangible actions for enhanced water security.