TRAPA India – Transition pathways for solving urban wastewater problems in Indian cities

The BMBF research project TRAPA India looks into approaches to address urban wastewater problems in Indian cities. Implementation strategies for integrated wastewater management will be developed based on sound business models.

Research approach

The project aims to identify possible transition pathways to improve the wastewater manage-ment in Indian cities. The districts of Thiruvananthapuram and Nagpur were pre-selected as re-search regions. The objectives include the development of management approaches and im-plementation strategies to produce mineral fertiliser from faecal and sewage sludge. A further objective is to supply and save energy from biogas utilization at local level. The research de-sign supports local participation in the development process of an integrated management concept that includes different wastewater streams. In this case, suitable business models for financing the new management concepts will be formulated. During the development process, user needs are taken into account as well. 

In the first step, data on local and regional material flows will be gathered as well as on the legislation and policies on wastewater and sewage sludge. In addition, a stakeholder analysis will be conducted. Afterwards, attention will turn to developing technical solutions and man-agement approaches for resource-efficient wastewater systems that suit the circumstances in India. Workshops with local stakeholders aim to exchange expectations in a mutual learning process to support implementation of novel concepts. The main objectives are to identify tran-sition pathways for improving wastewater management at the project sites and to reveal the potential of transferability to other Indian cities. Within the project, ISOE is responsible for the analysis of institutions and stakeholders, the sustainability evaluation from a social-ecological perspective, and the final analysis of transfer potentials.


India is the country with the second largest population on earth and exhibits a steadily increas-ing rate of urbanisation. The interaction between climate change and resource depletion causes challenges in wastewater disposal and public access to clean drinking water. To date, only a small proportion of the wastewater produced is treated in sewage plants. In relation to rapid population growth in the cities, septic tanks are often too small to cope with the volume of sewage, which leads to overflowing and, consequently, pollution of the surrounding water bod-ies. Innovative wastewater systems and concepts are crucial to avert risks to public health. 

Research- and project partners

  • Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (BUW),
  • Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST)
  • Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI)

Partner in practice

  • Tilia GmbH


The project ‘TRAPA-India – Transition paths for solving the problem of urban wastewater in Indian cities, including sludge from septic tanks and faecal sludge, based on resource-oriented systems and business models’ is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).


2020/05 – 2022/04