The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board regulates and provides water supply and sewerage services in the Chennai metropolitan area. However, the Board’s mission of contributing “towards health and quality of life of the citizens of Chennai city by providing good quality safe drinking water at reasonable price” does not always translate into reality for the urban poor. The Board does not have a clear policy to provide water for residents of unrecognized slums, even those that have been in existence for decades. Residents in both notified and non-notified slums are compelled to rely on alternate and usually more expensive sources of water like bore wells and water tankers. On the urban peripheries, Metro Water’s services are limited, and residents resort to a variety of formal and informal channels to access water for their daily requirements.
Our research examines and analyzes access to water and sanitation services in the city, with a focus on the urban poor. We develop methodologies that communities and researchers can use to measure access to water, create data, and advocate for change. We examine how urban local bodies and para-statals agencies plan, budget for and maintain existing water infrastructure, and how these plans take into account informal settlements. Our research and activities hope to make a case for increasing access to water in the city, reducing inequalities in access between different communities, and to improve service provision especially in non-notified areas.