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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Collaborating for Sustainable Urban Development: Fukuoka and Ahmedabad Leading the Way

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Ahmedabad, the significant metropolis in the Indian state of Gujarat, is widely recognized for its standing as one of the most habitable Indian cities, attributed to groundbreaking urban infrastructure and a robust economy.

Ranked among India’s most habitable cities, Ahmedabad, nestled in the state of Gujarat, owes its reputation to its innovative urban infrastructure and flourishing economy. A key participant in the government’s Smart Cities Mission, this city with a population exceeding 7.5 million, grapples with meeting its water and sanitation demands amid rapid urbanization, pollution, and the impacts of climate change.

In November 2022, the World Bank sanctioned a $280 million loan towards the Gujarat Resilient Cities Project: Ahmedabad City Resilience Project (G-ACRP), specifically targeted at enhancing access to sustainable wastewater management services for a further 7.3 million residents of Ahmedabad. To achieve this, the project aims to enhance the city’s wastewater management system through four avenues: i) crafting robust infrastructure for wastewater networks and treatment systems via long-term performance-based Design, Build and Operate (DBO) contracts, ii) establishing a GIS-enabled O&M planning and budgeting system, iii) employing digital systems for wastewater quality monitoring and early management of industrial pollution risks, and iv) supporting policy reforms to bolster the financial sustainability of service delivery. Overall, the project is anticipated to offer crucial financial and technical support to Ahmedabad towards adopting professional utility systems for sustainable service delivery while developing integral wastewater infrastructure systems.

In rising to meet this challenge, the Ahmedabad city administration, particularly the municipal commissioner and engineers, sought inspiration and guidance for enhancing wastewater management services amid volatile environmental conditions.

Drawing on global experiences, the World Bank identified Fukuoka City, Japan, as an ideal collaborator.

Fukuoka, with a population of 1.63 million, is renowned for its highly effective solid waste management system (the “Fukuoka Method”), along with successful urban development and regeneration initiatives primarily led by the private sector. It also boasts well-developed municipal infrastructure, particularly in water and sanitation, following a severe drought in 1978. Today, Fukuoka, acclaimed as one of the world’s most habitable cities, serves as a nucleus for cutting-edge industries and is being shaped into an advanced smart city through the Fukuoka Smart EAST initiative.

Owing to these accomplishments, Fukuoka stands as a prime source for knowledge and expertise, spotlighted in knowledge exchange events organized by the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), a collaboration between the government of Japan and the World Bank, which disseminates Japanese knowledge and experience in sustainable urban development. Through TDLC’s City Partnership Program, it facilitates the exchange of knowledge between municipal governments and operational support services to enrich project design or aid in the implementation of urban projects like the G-ACRP.

What initially commenced as a knowledge-sharing and operational support request from Ahmedabad across two regions and two cities – Fukuoka, Japan, and Ahmedabad, India, has evolved into a sustained city partnership. As the leading technical proponents of this collaboration, we have witnessed a remarkable synergy among these municipal governments and technical experts, fueling fresh ideas and technical solutions for Ahmedabad’s wastewater management challenges.

By leveraging knowledge from Fukuoka’s highly developed and well-maintained wastewater management systems, our collaboration is fortifying the institutional and financial systems of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) across five realms: i) asset management, including operations and maintenance; ii) quality monitoring and pollution early warning systems; iii) long-term resilient infrastructure planning; iv) reuse and management of wastewater; and v) enhancing financial sustainability in the water sector.

Our involvement kicked off in January 2022, by bringing the Ahmedabad City Administrator (AMC) and his engineering team to Fukuoka to observe its wastewater systems. The exchanges entailed sharing case studies, technical clinics, and on-site observation tours. The Fukuoka technical team partook in the maiden World Bank implementation support mission for G-ACRP in March 2023. The subsequent visit by a Fukuoka delegation to Ahmedabad has already paved the way for refining Ahmedabad’s wastewater management practices. This mission crystallized the essentials of embedding an operations and maintenance culture in a project, and the implementation of a ledger system for better municipal asset management. The combined efforts of the Task Team and TDLC in connecting Fukuoka and Ahmedabad not only benefited the G-ACRP through technical inputs from Japan but also set in motion a more formalized, enduring partnership between these cities, culminating in their joint participation in the G20’s Urban 20 (U20) Summit in Ahmedabad in July 2023.

Firsthand exposure to Fukuoka’s wastewater facilities broadened AMC’s understanding of resource efficiency, sustainable operations, financial sustainability, and the integrity of technical processes. Government officials from both cities gained insights into the opportunities, experiences, lessons, and challenges encountered by the other city. AMC recognized that Fukuoka built its sophisticated urban wastewater system over an extended period through sheer diligence and is now devising a patient and strategic approach for their city.

This partnership underscores how combining financial support with technical assistance and knowledge exchange can magnify the impact of investment projects.

AIforNGOs | AI writer for NGOs | Join For Free - Then Change your plan as per your needs

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