Socio-technical solutions to water security challenges in urban areas and post-disaster scenarios.

This research is a collaboratin between Institut Teknologi Bandung and the University of Manchester.

The University of Manchester and ITB have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop high impact research activities between the two parties to tackle global challenges.

Socio-technical solutions to water security challenges in urban areas and post-disaster scenarios.


Access to safe and affordable water is a major challenge in Indonesia, where an estimated 7 out of 8 households lack secure access to safe drinking water. Many people meet their water needs by extracting ground water. Not only is this unsustainable but it can cause subsidence and compromise the integrity of the built environment. This is the case in Jakarta, which is in the throes of a ‘slow disaster’ and literally sinking. Furthermore, water supply is typically disrupted in the event of a natural disaster. It is imperative that Indonesians diversify their ‘domestic water mix,’ yet at present they cannot consume surface water due to a high level of inorganic and organic pollutants. Case studies will focus on the Bandung metropolitan area, which is under-researched in comparison to Jakarta. Our aim is to map the city’s actually existing water network and investigate the potential implementation of two low-cost, durable and easy-to-use water filtration technologies (developed by ITB and UoM) that would render surface water drinkable. This project is a first step towards establishing sustainable socio-technical water infrastructure solutions applicable in places without access to formal piped water systems. This includes post-disaster scenarios where formal water treatment and delivery systems are commonly disrupted, as well as some dense urban neighborhoods ‘beyond’ the formal water distribution network. The water systems that currently exist in these areas are heterogeneous and co-produced by users. In contrast to techno-managerial solutions that seek to circumvent these systems, this project takes seriously the potential of off-grid systems comprised of overlapping and (in-)formal sub-systems. The socio-technical solutions we aim to develop will allow users to safely harvest water from a range of sources. We have assembled a multi-disciplinary team that includes social scientists and engineers at each institution.


  1. To map Bandung’s already existing heterogeneous water network – with a particular focus on key informal-sector stakeholders – and understand how it is co-produced through interactions among providers and users.
  2. To foster collaborations among users, community-based organizations, local authorities, wider stakeholders in the public sector, industry, academia and NGOs to convene a multi-stakeholder regional consortium in Bandung
    committed to augmenting water delivery and diversifying households’ ‘domestic water mix’ through off-grid solutions.
  3. To encourage key stakeholders to consider co-produced off-grid solutions to water challenges in Indonesia. These bottom-up socio-technical approaches can complement ongoing efforts to expand large-scale infrastructure.
  4. To investigate key technical and non-technical boundary conditions for sustainable design and expansion of the two filtration concepts for applications in Indonesia.

Key deliverables and anticipated outputs

  1. Three academic articles in international peer-reviewed journals: (1) review of water security, access, governance and infrastructure in Indonesian cities, (2) an analysis of the co-produced nature of Bandung’s water network, and (3) a report on multi-disciplinary methods for water infrastructure research.
  2. A multidisciplinary workshop held at the ITB to foster regional developments with academic and non-academic stakeholders.
  3. Improved concepts of low cost filtrations for two technologies by integrated localised socio-economic implementation characteristics.
  4. Development of a multi-criteria decision support system to assist with informed decision by stakeholders and authorities, and disseminate through a consortium of key stakeholders from civil society, public and
    private sectors in Bandung


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