Abishek S Narayan

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Abishek S Narayan

(Dr. Sc. ETH) Project Manager / PostDoc

Department Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development

About Me

My research is on water and sanitation for development. I work in the intersection of Engineering, Planning and Policy. Currently, I focus on four major topics:

1. Integrating Basic Services (WABES)

Water, Sanitation and Solid Waste are inherently similar and have many interactions between their physical value chains. Integrating these offer a possibility to reap co-benefits. In two small towns in Uganda, we are testing if and how this could be done. This work is done with the support of SDC.

2. Decentralised Wastewater Treatment and Reuse (WaterReuseLab)

There is a paradigm shift in the WASH sector towards decentralisation and resource recovery. Over the last five years, I have explored off-grid and semi-grid water and sanitation systems from a technical and social perspective. In this new project, we are researching the governance of water reuse in Bangalore, India. This research is in collaboration with WELL Labs. 

3. Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS)

This research contributes to the conceptualisation of CWIS and the development of a planning approach to implement it. I collaborate with the many partners including World Bank, Gates Foundation, Asian Development Bank, and GIZ among others.

4. Scaling up WASH innovations (Lab to Land)

A number of technological innovations in the WASH sector already exist, but have failed to scale up and solve real world challenges. I ask: What should we do to bring such innovations from lab to the land. This research is done in collaboration with TU Munich.   


My interest in water came from founding the Clean Adyar Initative, a citizen action group on river restoration in Chennai, India. There I understood the need for taking a holistic approach to water challenges. 

I have a background in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Policy from Anna and Oxford Universities respectively. More recently, I received my PhD in Envrionmental Engineering from ETH Zurich.

I am also a visiting / guest lecturer on the topics of Water, Sanitation and Urbanization at EPF Lausanne, ETH Zurich,  IHE Delft, TU Berlin, TU Munich and University of Oxford.

I am active in three key WASH networks -
Swiss Water Partnership, where I co-founded the SWP Youth network and help coordinate the youth activities. I was also part of the Steering Board of the Partnership.
Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), where I am a lead for the working group on Cities, and also on the Advisory Board of the Alliance. 
International Water Association (IWA), where I am part of the Task Force of their Inclusive Urban Sanitation / CWIS initiative. 

I believe that for achieving sustainable and equitable development in WASH and elsewhere, there needs to be holistic planning that combines technological and social aspects.  It is therefore with this approach that I try to move in any of my scientific or development endeavor. 

Finally I am also strong advocate for (1) youth empowerment and (2) science communication. Therefore, I strive to contribute for both whenever opportunities arise through mentoring, public talks and more. 

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4S is assessing small-scale sanitation systems in South Asia to provide policy recommendations for improved sanitation system design, implementation and O&M.
WABES explores opportunities for integrated planning, implementation and sustainability of water, solid waste and fecal sludge service provision in urban settings.
The aim of CWIS research is to develop a method that synthesizes existing information about the sanitation landscapes of cities in India and that presents comprehensive sanitation solutions.
WaterReuseLab aims at analyzing how a new generation of decentralized water reuse systems could be developed in Bengaluru, India

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Curriculum Vitae

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Narayan, A. S.; Boller, M. (2023) To integrate or not to integrate? Water and waste as unified basic services, PLoS Water, 2(9), e0000180 (4 pp.), doi:10.1371/journal.pwat.0000180, Institutional Repository
Narayan, A. S.; Maurer, M.; Lüthi, C. (2021) The clean plan: analysing sanitation planning in India using the CWIS planning framework, Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, 11(6), 1036-1047, doi:10.2166/washdev.2021.130, Institutional Repository
Narayan, A. S.; Marks, S. J.; Meierhofer, R.; Strande, L.; Tilley, E.; Zurbrügg, C.; Lüthi, C. (2021) Advancements in and integration of water, sanitation, and solid waste for low- and middle-income countries, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 46, 193-219, doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-030620-042304, Institutional Repository
Narayan, A. S.; Fischer, M.; Lüthi, C. (2020) Social network analysis for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH): application in governance of decentralized wastewater treatment in India using a novel validation methodology, Frontiers in Environmental Science, 7, 198 (18 pp.), doi:10.3389/fenvs.2019.00198, Institutional Repository
Schertenleib, R.; Lüthi, C.; Panesar, A.; Büürma, M.; Kapur, D.; Sankara Narayan, A.; Pres, A.; Salian, P.; Spuhler, D.; Tempel, A. (2021) A sanitation journey. Principles, approaches & tools for urban sanitation, 79 p, Institutional Repository
Narayan, A. S.; Lüthi, C. (2020) Solving urban sanitation - sustainably and equitably, World Water, 43(4), 18-21, Institutional Repository
Lüthi, C.; Sankara Narayan, A. (2018) Citywide inclusive sanitation: achieving the urban water SDGs, In: Camarena, L.; Machado-Filho, H.; Casagrande, L.; Byrd, R.; Tsakanika, A.; Wotton, S. (Eds.), Urban waters - How does water impact and is impacted by cities and human settlements?, 11-13, Institutional Repository
Klinger, M.; Ulrich, L.; Ramprasad, C.; Wolf, A. T.; Reynaud, N.; Narayan, A. S.; Siemsen, P.; Lüthi, C.; Philip, L. (2020) Technology, implementation and operation of small‐scale sanitation in India. Performance analysis and policy recommendations. Small‐scale sanitation scaling‐up (4S) - project report vol. I, 127 p, Institutional Repository
Johnstone, D. W. M.; Nowicki, S.; Narayan, A. S.; Sinha, R. (2020) Wastewater. From a toxin to a valuable resource, In: Dadson, S. J.; Garrick, D. E.; Penning‐Rowsell, E. C.; Hall, J. W.; Hope, R.; Hughes, J. (Eds.), Water science, policy, and management: a global challenge, 291-307, doi:10.1002/9781119520627.ch16, Institutional Repository

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Phone: +41 58 765 6771
Fax: +41 58 765 5802
Address: Eawag
Überlandstrasse 133
8600 Dübendorf
Office: FC F36

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