Building Climate-Resilient WASH for Climate-Impacted Vulnerable Populations


Water for Women partners with the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) to deliver climate-resilient and socially inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to 74,420* people through Building Climate-Resilient WASH for Climate-Impacted Vulnerable Populations in Bhubaneswar and Jaipur.


With a population of around 1.429 billion, India is now the most populous country in the world,[1] but with only 4% of water resources, India is also one of the world’s most water-stressed countries and faces major water security threats due to projected changes in climate.


Rising temperatures are accelerating evaporation, depleting surface water and groundwater reserves, while intensifying tropical cyclones are increasing storm surges and sea-level rise, causing saline intrusion in coastal areas. Altered precipitation patterns lead to unpredictable monsoons, causing floods in some areas and droughts in others.[2]


Like most countries in South Asia, India is particularly vulnerable to climate change. In recent years, India has experienced more erratic and severe weather events and related crises, including floods, cloudbursts, landslides and heatwaves. India’s economy is closely tied to its natural resource-base and climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, water and forestry.[3] These extreme events are reducing water availability, adversely affecting agricultural productivity, water supply, and overall economic stability.[4] Weather-related crises are also slowing the pace of poverty reduction and increasing inequality nationwide.

People survey the damage to their homes as a result of a tropical cyclone in India. Clothing and materials are strewn about in an outdoor setting where once homes would have stood

People survey the devastation caused by Cyclone Fani in Tarini Basti, an informal settlement in Bhubaneswar, India (CFAR archives / Basudev Mahapatra)


Climate-related risks to water, sanitation and hygiene

In India, at least one billion people currently face severe water scarcity for at least one month annually.[5] According to government data, the per capita availability of water will dip from 1,486 cubic metres to 1,367 cubic metres by 2031.[6]


Research has shown that nearly 740,000 excess deaths in India annually could be attributed to abnormal hot and cold temperatures related to climate change.[7]

While several states have climate change policies[8] in place, including WASH priorities, not enough financing is available to help with implementing these policies.


“In the changing climate due to global warming, risks are getting more complicated and complex. Community at large is at stake and the solution must be engrained in them. Localisation of solution with contextualisation is the answer to many such changes. Water is one of the challenges; scarcity and thereby compromised quality needs to be addressed now. Hence, low cost yet effective solution is adaptation to such situations, and which can be done through community-based actions and at scale.”

Yezdani Rahman, Seeds India Chief of Programmes


A map of India with the regions of operation highlighted


In the cities of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, and Jaipur, Rajasthan, climate change is impacting the availability of and access to water and WASH and having devastating consequences on communities. According to the Socio-economic Vulnerability Index,[9] 50% of informal settlements in the two cities are at a medium to high level of risk of climate-related disasters — with 119 at high risk of cyclonic storms and flash floods, and136 facing both climatic variability and groundwater depletion, with 25% of the population severely impacted. Additionally, 16% of all wards in both cities are rated at ‘very high’ to ‘high’ vulnerability, and 27% and 19% in Bhubaneswar and Jaipur respectively at ‘medium’ vulnerability.

Situated in India’s eastern coastal plains, Bhubaneswar lies in the tropical wet-dry zone and is increasingly prone to tropical cyclones, hailstorms and floods. In the 136-year period from 1877-2013, Bhubaneswar experienced 100 tropical disturbances with wind speeds of up to 150km, including 39 cyclonic events. In 2019, Cyclone Fani caused severe destruction of houses, telecommunications, power and WASH infrastructure, and loss of life.

Over the ten-year period from 2011-2021, rainfall rates also increased in Bhubaneswar, rising from 1,561mm to 1,800mm annually. Flooding has impacted some 52 locations, with those worst affected being urban poor communities living along riverbanks and in low lying areas in the North and Southeast zones.[10] Odisha has also routinely experienced heatwaves since 2018, anomalous rises in temperatures and predominant droughts. In many areas, groundwater has depleted by 10 metres or more.[11]

Jaipur is undergoing rapid urbanisation growth while at the same time, 38 areas are defined as critically polluted under the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index,[12] with high chemical, heavy metal and faecal contamination of water sources.[13] Jaipur receives less than 600mm rainfall annually and relies extensively on groundwater[14] and a single surface water source, the Bisalpur Dam. Informal settlements across seven zones face acute water crisis, extreme surface heating, flash floods and depleting groundwater levels for four months annually. Erratic climatic conditions also result in irregular water supply, particularly during summer, which increasingly brings protracted dry spells and heatwaves starting as early as March and extending beyond June – one month earlier and longer than usual.[15] Rajasthan state is considered an area of high climate sensitivity, maximum vulnerability and low adaptive capacity. The state also has the highest probability of drought occurrence in India.[16]

Across Bhubaneswar and Jaipur, some 163,983 and 323,400[17] people respectively live in urban slums, representing approximately 20%[18] and 10%[19] of the cities’ populations. More than 14%[20] of Bhubaneswar’s population belongs to scheduled caste[21] groups or tribes,[22] and around 17% is illiterate. In Jaipur, more than 16%[23] of the population is from a scheduled caste group or tribe, and over 27% is illiterate.

Climate change disproportionately affects those most marginalised in society, including people from minority groups, people with disabilities, women and the poor.[24] Those living in informal urban settlements in Bhubaneswar and Jaipur experience multidimensional disadvantage and face high climate hazard risks.



Building Climate-Resilient WASH for Climate-Impacted Vulnerable Populations aims to support climate-resilient and socially inclusive WASH services in 215 informal settlements across Bhubaneswar and Jaipur, India. This project builds on CFAR’s Water for Women project, Mobilising, Facilitating and Replicating Socially Inclusive WASH Initiatives in India’s Urban Slums — Bhubaneswar and Jaipur, completed in 2022.


From 2023-2024 this project aims to deliver lasting impact through:

  • Support for climate-impacted vulnerable communities in 215 informal settlements to plan and co-create climate-resilient WASH adaptations, including scientific waste management
  • Climate-resilient inclusive WASH services to all currently unserviced households in both cities, guaranteed by the National WASH programme
  • Climate-resilient inclusive WASH models, research, documentation and evidence-based advocacy that influence policy and practice of subnational and national governments, including support for sanitation-linked livelihoods
  • Climate resilience integrated into inclusive national WASH policy and subnational WASH programmes, implemented in 51 wards for target communities.


A group of women are grouped with some drawing with chalk to promote water conservation

Women members of CFAR's Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee are creating "rangoli" or floor paintings, this method is used in many parts of India as an auspicious symbol of prosperity, good luck and growth. The rangoli patterns are drawn using flowers, rice flour and coloured chalk powder to mark World Water Day and motivate all members of their community to get into the habit of conserving water in Odisha, India (CFAR, India)

View more photo updates from our work in India


"Localisation is necessary to respond to climate change. The community must be at the centre of designing and implementing climate-resilient WASH programming including anticipatory action, mitigation of, and adaptation to reduce risk, with local capacities and resources strengthened by CSOs, experts and climate-action and WASH systems, international, national and sub-national.”

Akhila Sivadas, CFAR Executive Director




WASH-related climate challenges for this project

  • Approximately 53% of households in Bhubaneswar and 15.9% in Jaipur rely on water from untreated water sources, and 34% and 6.9% respectively lack drainage facilities.
  • Around 25% of households in Bhubaneswar and 5% in Jaipur do not have a latrine.
  • Some 30% of households in Jaipur experience severe water shortages and are unable to access a toilet following flash floods and heavy rainfall.[25]
  • About 1.12 billion cubic metres of groundwater has depleted in Bhubaneswar between 2009 and 2017.[26] The seepage of sewage water into surface water sources has further degraded the city’s water supply.
  • With 91% of Jaipur’s drinking water secured from groundwater sources, fluoride and nitrate in drinking water is a major problem.[27]
  • According to the Public Health Engineering Department, of the 384,058 metered connections in the Jaipur water supply scheme, around 60% are not functional and there is a water supply deficit of 90 million l/d.



How community representatives came together to champion and successfully advocate for safely managed WASH services for their settlement (CFAR archives)




Building Climate-Resilient WASH for Climate-Impacted Vulnerable Populations aims to reach the following beneficiaries by the end of 2024:


Direct beneficiaries: 74,420*

  • women and girls: 36,809
  • men and boys: 37,149
  • people with a disability: 2,362

Indirect beneficiaries: 19,136*



water for women logo


The Australian development assistance program is investing in India to achieve these outcomes. Water for Women is proud to be partnering with the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) in Bhubaneswar and Jaipur and local resource groups in India.

Feature photo: Flash flooding in Jaipur, India (CFAR Archives)


*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate. To see our latest progress towards targets, see our progress.



[1] UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Policy Brief No. 153: India overtakes China as the world’s most populous country, (website article) 24 April 2023.

[3] Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, Government of India, 2021.

[5] M Krishnan, Climate change: IPCC warns India of heat waves, droughts - DW (news article), Deutsche Welle, New Dehli, India, 8 October 2021.

[7] In a study published by The Lancet Planetary Health journal in 2021, researchers concluded that nearly 740,000 excess deaths in India annually could be attributed to abnormal hot and cold temperatures related to climate change. From: Climate change: IPCC warns India of heat waves, droughts – DW

[8] The National Action Plan on Climate Change was released on 30 June 2008 and again notified in December 2021. There are eight National Missions to simultaneously advance India’s development and climate-change related goals, and three national WASH policies — Clean India Mission 2.0; Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation 2.0; Jal Jeevan or Water for Life Mission — with budget outlays of AUD463 million, AUD466 million and AUD1,851 million respectively to strengthen scientific methods of waste management, improve grey and black water management and achieve 100% water supply coverage of 4,700 cities and 100% sewerage-septage management to 500 cities. From:

[9] CFAR, Socio-economic Vulnerability Index – Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, CFAR, India, October 2022. For this assessment, various indicators have been considered at the ward level from the Census India 2011. Indicators which add to the vulnerability of populations to cope from hazard risks have been considered.

[10] Government of Odisha, District Disaster Management Plan – 2022, District Emergency Operation Center, Khorda, 2022

[11] Mohapatra et al, Review on Design of Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting in Gandhi Institute for Technology (GIFT) BBSR, International Journal for Research in Applied Science & Engineering Technology, Bhubaneswar, May 2022.

[12] Government of India, Annual Report 2020-21, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, New Delhi, India, 2021.

[13] According to CFAR focus group discussion findings, October 2022.

[14] There is 207% ground water extraction: From

[15] RK Bokam and J Jain, After 40 long years, community champions secure safe drinking water for Nayak Basti in Jaipur, Water for Women (website article), 2023.

[16] Government of Rajasthan, Rajasthan State Action Plan on Climate Change, Department of Environment and Climate Change, 2022.

[17] Government of India, Census India 2011, Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India and Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 2011.

[18] 42,277 households of 202,014 in total in Bhubaneswar: From Census India 2011.

[19] 61,858 households of 30,461,63 in total in Jaipur: From Census India 2011.

[20] Total population of Bhubaneswar being 885,363; scheduled castes population 76,770; scheduled tribe population 44,106; illiterate population 152,477: From Census India 2011.

[21] The official government designation for groups that occupy a low position within the Indian caste system.

[22] The official government designation applied to indigenous peoples who fall outside the predominant Indian social hierarchy.

[23] Total population of Jaipur being 30,461,63; scheduled castes population 392,285; scheduled tribe population 115,258; illiterate population 830,628.

[24] University of Technology Sydney - Institute for Sustainable Futures, Climate Change Response for Inclusive WASH: A Guidance Note for Plan International IndonesiaUTS-ISF, December 2020

[25] According to a survey by CFAR as part of the vulnerability study for the Socio-economic Vulnerability Index – Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, 2022.

[27] R Agarwal, Nitrate Contamination in Ground Water of Jaipur District, Rajasthan, India: It’s Impact on Human Health: A Review ( Journal of Scientific Engineering and Research, India, November 2016.

Contact Us