By Office of Public Affairs
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a US$ 8.1 million grant to establish a center of excellence at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) to expedite and support Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene strategy in Asia and beyond by working with the governments, international financing institutions & other development partners. The center of excellence is jointly spearheaded by Prof. Sangam Shrestha, Head of the Department of Civil and Infrastructure Engineering in the School of Engineering and Technology, and Prof. Thammarat Koottatep from the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change in the School of Environment, Resources and Development. The center of excellence will work closely with the government, international financing institutions, and other development partners to accelerate the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene strategy in Asia and beyond.
The grant is initially consisting of four initiatives:
Establishment of Technical Assistance Hub (TA Hub)
An initiative/platform to assist governments, development banks & other development partners in planning, designing, scaling, and implementing City-wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) approach.
Development and scaling up of Integrated Municipal Information System (IMIS)
The IMIS is an innovative GIS-based Information Technology solution to manage sanitation services, adopting the CWIS principle and framework catalyzing outcomes of SDG 6.2 and 6.3. The IMIS provides a sound and reliable framework for effective municipal infrastructure and service planning, management, monitoring, and evaluation, allowing integration and interoperability.
Improvement of the National Sanitation Dashboard (NSD)
The project aims to provide technical assistance to upgrade the national sanitation dashboard and website to develop safe and inclusive sanitation in Bangladesh.
Women in Sanitation Enterprises Project (WISE)
The project aims to support institutional strengthening, reducing the equity gap in sanitation entrepreneurship between men and women in terms of access to finance and investment, help WSMEs integrate digital finance in their businesses, develop their leadership abilities, and increase WSMEs access to markets and networks to strengthen their engagement in the sanitation value chain.
“In addition to the above initiatives, the grant also consists of an ‘institutional building’ component. The main objective of this component is to develop the capacity of AIT’s faculty members, staff, and students by involving them in research and training related to water and sanitation initiatives of the center. Similarly, the grant will also support the establishment of research facilities to scale up and host some of the initiatives such as IMIS and National Sanitation Dashboard by AIT in the near future,” said Prof. Sangam Shrestha, who will be serving as a center co-director.
Prof. Thammarat, a co-director of the center, envisions that the collaborative platform offered by the Global Water & Sanitation Center (GWSC) will enable regional cooperation among development partners, research institutions and professionals in exploring sustainable solutions to the global and regional challenges such as marine plastic pollution, extreme climate situations, etc.
Dr. Roshan Raj Shrestha – Deputy Director of Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, congratulated AIT for receiving the grant. He said, “The goal of the grant is to establish a Center of Excellence in Asia that will support South Asian and Southeast Asian countries to accelerate hygiene and sanitation in the region.”
Stating that the foundation had worked closely with AIT for nearly a decade, he added, “We have invested significantly in transformative sanitation technologies, one of which is called ‘reinventing the toilet’ that is ready for the market. AIT worked as an integral part of the development process, and we hope to utilize AIT’s expertise, including its ISO-certified laboratory and researchers in quality assurance, development, and marketing that technology in Asia.”
“We are very optimistic about this grant. AIT will provide services for the Integrated Municipal Information System (IMIS) and technology promotion for inclusive sanitation in the region. We are hopeful that AIT will be requested by government and development partners and UN agencies to enhance their regional sanitation and hygiene investments.”
About Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity worldwide. Founded on a simple premise: that people everywhere, regardless of identity or circumstances, should have the chance to live healthy, productive lives. By building a global and cultural workplace that supports greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — together with their employees and partners, the organization helps all people improve their lives, from poverty and health to education. Learn more