Biome endeavors to find and demonstrate solutions, and empower communities to adopt and innovate on them in the water and sanitation sectors. The solutions Biome offers address social and environmental issues, recognizing the links in the water-energy-food nexus.
Of equal importance in its work is that it recognizes that plumbers, well diggers, sanitation and health workers, and informal sector WASH enterprises are essential in implementing these solutions. Therefore, ensuring their well-being and ensuring their capacity and knowledge is built, and their innovations are incubated, is integral to Biome’s work.
Further, Biome’s work addresses the challenges of groundwater management (India is the world’s largest groundwater user), sanitation and management of waste water and fecal sludge, resource recovery from wastes, water quality management, demand management, and equity and citizen water literacy education. Biome works on these issues in both urban and rural contexts. Biome’s experience is very rich in the urban and peri-urban contexts. Biome sees itself as a “thoughtful do tank,” acting as a practice to policy bridge.
India is heavily dependent on its groundwater and has the highest number of bore-wells in the world, numbering close to 30 million. More than 60% of India’s water supply comes from these bore-wells, with more wells being dug every day. This places an unmanageable strain on the aquifer as it is being depleted at a much higher rate than can be naturally recharged. India is already on the brink of a full-blown water crisis, with cases of acute water shortages, fluoride poisoning and other forms of water pollution becoming common, forcing people to drill deeper (thus reducing the water quality). In addition, water sources are being contaminated by a failure to properly manage the disposal of wastewater. This situation will only worsen, with rapid urbanization, the lack of water literacy, the inefficient use of water, and the development of new industries with high demand for water placing a larger strain on water resources. In the city of Bangalore, for instance, depleting surface water availability has driven demand for groundwater, which has drawn down the city’s water tables and left many bore wells dry. As a result, some residential communities across the city find themselves needing to purchase water from unregulated and expensive private entities to meet their basic needs.