Biome Environmental  Trust has been set up with the aim to conduct research, public education, practice-to-policy bridging and policy advocacy in the areas of land-use & land-use planning, energy, water and sanitation.

Urban water management and community participation

India is fast urbanizing. Cities are growing bigger and bigger. Towns are becoming cities. With this, the challenge of ensuring everybody’s water and sanitation needs in the urban areas are met is becoming more complex. Our city corporations or town municipal councils have limited capacity to manage these challenges. With growth far outpacing these institutions’ management response to it, much of the urban populace is left to adapt and cope with institutional inadequacies. Markets – both formal and informal – evolve to provide services that urban citizens then rely on to cope with this situation.

The coping mechanisms however, are still dependent on the natural capital of the town or city – its rivers, its tanks & lakes, its groundwater and its rainfall. This natural capital asset base also needs stewardship – instead they become waste sinks & health hazards. Solutions are now necessary that can break this vicious cycle. All stakeholders – public and private – need to become part of these solutions. At Biome we research and develop these solutions. We also catalyse and facilitate co-creation of these solutions working with all these diverse stakeholders. We understand problems as not just technical or environmental problems – but equally as social problems. And in our work we endeavor therefore, that solutions are co-created with potential stake-winners and stake-losers.

Design for accessibility

A sustainable environment will not be achieved by looking solely at the physical world; any true success in this direction must understand and integrate in equal measure the human aspect. We consider social responsibility an imperative component of any project which we approach from two angles: “For whom and where” and “By whom and how”.

“For whom and where” is rooted in the needs of the client and the community in which they live, making them the primary concern in our designs. We give careful thought to accessibility for differently-abled individuals, such as the elderly or those with physical disabilities. We also assign considerable weight to local aesthetic and cultural values.

“By whom and how” gives consideration to the players in the construction process. Workers in India’s construction industry often suffer from a lack of dignity, pay, and even basic training. Frequently migrating from rural areas where they left behind family, land and greater social status, these workers converge upon urban areas with hopes of economic advancing. Our designers are aware of the efforts of these workers, and believe that assuming some responsibility toward due training and proper recognition of good work can go a long way to furthering their lot. Additional responsibilities include ensuring that no child labour is employed at site and that all workers are offered insurance against accident or injury.

Access to water and Inclusive development

Universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation is imperative for inclusive development. In the Indian context, equity in this access is affected by economic (eg: poor), social (eg: caste, gender) and geographic (eg: rural) factors. Biome works with other organizations and communities to help achieve universal access to water and sanitation. The fundamental approach is to work with affected communities or organsiation closely working with affected communities and equip them with ideas, knowledge, information and connections that will help them to respond to their problems in an empowered manner.

When appropriate or where opportunity presents itself, we may also help access small amounts of funding from individual or institutional donors that can help communities implement their solutions. We see ourselves as catalyzers of local problem solving and as incubators of local problem solvers.

Skills development and sustainability

The plumber, the well digger, the mason, the gardener/farmer – whether urban or rural – are perhaps the most important problem solvers in the water and sanitation space everywhere. As our country urbanizes and as rural agriculture adapts itself to new urban consumption patterns, the skills necessary to deal with changing water and sanitation challenges also change. At Biome Environmental Trust, we consider our engagement with these problem solvers as very central to our work. We work with them to develop new solutions and we then help spread the new skills necessary by training and handholding. In our work we also try to ensure their livelihoods are protected and strengthened. We try to ensure that their work is valued and respected. All of them are our partners.

Rainwater Harvesting Manuals put together by Biome Environmental Trust, Navyadisha and Grameen Koota. Download here: RWH-Drinking and RWH-Nondrinking

Read Biome’s comic book  on community led urban water management: Did you know 80% of the water we use goes back as wastewater or sewage? read more….

Contemporizing our open well heritage: Experiences from Bangalore for urban India. read more….

Recharge Wells: Building water resilience, sustainable water management and why we should dig recharge wells. read more….

Understanding Lakes in Bangalore: Catchment, drainage and cascade and where does the water come from and where does it go? read more….

Rejuvenating Lakes in Bangalore: Understanding and managing tradeoffs, pathways to restoration, institutions and stakeholders. read more….

Citizen action around lakes in Bangalore: Reclaim you lake! read more….

History and culture of lakes in Bangalore: Reclaiming our urban lakes and engaging with our natural ecosystem. read more….

Biome’s team creates integrated water management solutions at the home, community and state level.

• Rainwater Harvesting (RWH)

 RWH helps secure water supply, decreases dependence on piped/bore well water and reduces the intensity of monsoon flooding. An average household in Bangalore can sustain itself on rainwater for 3-4 months a year.

• Composting Toilets and Wastewater Treatment

Biome builds decentralized waste water (DEWAT) systems that enable users to treat and reuse wastewater (e.g. bathwater) and sewage from toilets, at the home level. DEWAT systems ensure water security in cities, reduce waste and dependence on dysfunctional treatment plants.

• Advocacy and Awareness

 In addition to these solutions, Biome does water audits to ensure sustainable use of water, advocates with the Karnataka Government to shape water policy, and undertakes groundwater management efforts such as participatory aquifer mapping.

• Sanitation Safety Plan (SSP)

Biome works in partnership with local municipalities, academics and medical professionals to design and implement a SSP that adheres to WHO guidelines for safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater in agriculture.

The origins of the Trust lies in the work of more than fifteen years of practice and research of a group of Architecture, Urban Planning, Water & Sanitation, Energy and Information Technology professionals.

Biome Environmental Trust (The Trust) has been set up with the aim to conduct research, public education, practice-to-policy bridging and policy advocacy in the areas of land-use & land-use planning, energy, water and sanitation. The key concerns of all its activities in these areas are ecological and social sustainability in India and the developing world. In an era of emphasis on economic growth coupled with the threats of climate change, The Trust seeks to evolve solutions to critical resource problems of the present and future. Concerns of Equity, Environment and Economy are all equally integral to the Trust’s endeavors. Its research encompasses scientific, technological, socio-economic and policy research. The overall approach is solution centric and one of knowledge-based activism through action research, engagement with citizenry, policy advocacy and engagement with governance. The origins of the Trust lies in the work of more than fifteen years of practice and research of a group of Architecture, Urban Planning, Water & Sanitation, Energy and Information Technology professionals. The founding Trustees are an Ecological Architect and a Water & Sanitation expert of national and international repute. They are members of a number of policy/advisory committees of local, regional and national governments. Collectively the group has 100+ years of experience in Land-use, water & sanitation and related issues. Knowledge sharing, working with partner groups and an entrepreneurial spirit are the corner-stone of its work culture.

The Trust has been engaging with a wide spectrum of people and Institutions – families, residential colonies, apartment complexes, hospitality industry, manufacturing and services industries, educational institutions and governance institutions – on land-use and Watsan issues. It has a wide set of well established relationships with communities and institutions in India.

More recently it has been conducting research on “responsible water use by the Information Technology (IT) sector” in partnership with a leading IT company based in Bengaluru – the objective of this research is to lay out a broad framework for the sector to follow to ensure responsibility in water-use. This research also involves a significant groundwater dimension given that many IT firms are completely dependent on groundwater as their water source. It is also conducting research on Participatory groundwater mapping in one of the watersheds in Bengaluru. It is also conducting research on different dimensions of “honey sucker” (vacuum trucks that empty septic tanks and leach-pits and then compost the contents to be used as farm manure) – an urban sanitation solution that the informal water-markets of Bengaluru have found for households not networked to sewerage mainlines. The research focuses on, protocols necessary to ensure complete sanitation and how the solution can be adapted and institutionalized within the city’s system as a possible eco-sanitation solution. Trust’s involvement with Sanitation Safety Planning (SSP), a world health organizations’ (WHOs) initiative to bring together actors from different sectors to identify health risks in the sanitation system and agree on improvements and regular monitoring for sanitation systems, is on-going in Devanahalli town, near Bengaluru.

The Trust is also currently working with urban and rural schools in and around Bengaluru City to implement ecological water practices in the schools simultaneously achieving education goals, environmental goals and goals of resource security for the schools. In the rural context, it also serves as an excellent starting and entry point to water and sanitation issues in the villages.

Partners and funders

Partners include

• Residential Communities
• Brihat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike
• Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board
• Karnataka State Pollution Control Board
• Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment
• Other government and private schools

Funders include

• WHO for SSP
• Robert Bosch Stiftung
• Akvo

Bus routes to reach Vidyaranyapura from:
Majestic: 276
Shivijinagar: 276

264 6 Main 6 Block
BEL Layout Vidyaranyapura
Bengaluru 560097
  • +91 80 4167 2790, 98451 84281