As an innovation lab, our specific purpose is transforming research into impact. For our work to have impact, we need to raise funds, collaborate with partners and find our place among social innovation enthusiasts. One of the key ways to achieve this is by ensuring insights from our work are read widely and shared far beyond our immediate circles of influence. Strategic media publications play a huge role in this.
We need to move many key levers of change simultaneously for it to result in systemic change. We have a multidisciplinary team that’s thinking through these complex social problems. They have been writing in the media about how they process some of these big picture challenges.
Below are the team's insights, opinions and reported articles published in the media.
- World Water Day: Rural Water Planning is Caught Between an Egg Carton and a Bathtub by Dr Veena Srinivasan
Published in The Wire on 22/03/22: India faces a looming groundwater crisis. But to be able address this effectively, we need solutions to work at scale and a clear grasp of ‘what works where’. Rural water plans and interventions need to be tailored specific to how farmers might behave, which in turn depends on the aquifer’s characteristics.
- Technology's Innovative Role in Preserving India's Groundwater
Published in Fair Planet on 21/03/22: The open-source tool we developed, Jaltol, is featured in this article about how technology can play a definitive role in ensuring an equitable distribution and sustainable extraction of groundwater.
- Data Journalism Top 10: Unhappy Russians, Bad Cops, Women in Data, Korean Elections
Published in GIJN on 18/03/22: The Global Investigative Journalists Network featured our story published in IndiaSpend about Bengaluru's lakes in their weekly round-up of top 10 pieces of data journalism. It mentions that the article discusses the negative impact that the lack of data has on lake conservation and that CSEI's crowdmapping project aims to fill this data gap.
- How many lakes does Bengaluru really have? A crowdsourcing initiative is finding out by Rashmi Kulranjan and Shashank Palur
Published in Scroll on 12/03/22: Although waterbodies serve an important ecological function, authorities that govern them do not have comprehensive, updated, public records. To protect existing lakes, the key is to first document them and then to ensure that these data are publicly accessible. Our researchers write about the crowdmapping effort they organised to address this problem.
- Crowdmapping Bengaluru's Vanishing Lakes by Rashmi Kulranjan and Shashank Palur
Published in India Spend on 03/03/21: A crowdsourcing initiative, led by CSEI, identified 1,350 lakes spread across Bengaluru. Our researchers write that open access data of this sort will allow the flow of information between government bodies and the public more easily and crowdsourced maps could be a great starting point for monitoring, supervising and planning restoration projects by both citizens and governing agencies.
- Gasifying lantana, an invasive weed, has positive spin-offs by V Renganathan and Sandeep Hanchanale
Published in The Hindu Business Line on 25/02/22: This article talks about the potential of gasifying lantana - a process by which wood chips are burned at high temperatures to yield clean and combustible fuel and a by-product called biochar, a substance that can improve soil fertility and sequester carbon. This article highlights the successful eight-hour trial that CSEI conducted with Biotherm Industries.
- Satellite and on-the-Ground Data Help Monitor Groundwater in India
Published in EOS Science News on 16/02/2022: Eos, the science news magazine published by the American Geophysical Union, featured Jaltol in their article about how remote sensing and on-ground data is helping farmers use groundwater more efficiently. The article quotes MIT's Professor James Wescoat: The app 'helps users analyze those data to prepare local water budgets. Because those data come from large-scale data sets, they give farmer communities the big picture on area water budgets.'
- Research needs to leave the ivory tower of academia by Dr Veena Srinivasan
Published in IDR on 02/02/22: We need evidence and data-driven approaches that fully incorporate our understanding of both earth’s biophysical processes and social systems. In this op-ed, Veena argues that for sustainability science to offer relevant solutions, research models must move closer to practice and address questions that emerge from the community, instead of academia alone.
- How a highly invasive weed was tamed and crafted into lamps
Published in Architectural Digest on 01/02/22: This article discussed how our partner, designer Jenny Pinto's sustainable decor brand Oorjaa has crafted durable and stunning lamps out of lantana, a highly destructive weed.
- To address climate change, grow and restore soil, not trees by G. Ravikanth, P. Srinivas Vasu, Veena Srinivasan
Published in Mongabay on 10/01/22: The earth’s soils contain about 2,500 gigatons of carbon, more than three times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and four times the amount stored in all vegetation. This commentary talks about how soil organic carbon (SOC) content is important for climate change mitigation, but it is equally important for farmers and biodiversity.
- The triffid’s day has come: designing with invasive plants
Published in Financial Times on 08/01/22: This story is about how designers are using invasive species to produce furniture, paper, textiles and building materials. ATREE and CSEI's efforts to cultivate a craft economy around lantana is prominently featured here. It also mentions how we are working with designers to develop other uses, as well as engineering solutions — such as creating lantana particle boards — and an infrastructure that can be adapted for other materials if lantana grows more scarce.
- From sapling to supari: On the arecanut trail in semi-arid Karnataka by Tanvi Agrawal
Published in The News Minute on 03/01/22: Over time, arecanut has become one of the key cash crops of Karnataka, and semi-arid and arid regions are digging increasingly deep borewells to sustain this water-guzzling crop. This article draws from extensive fieldwork to trace how the arecanut is cultivated and processed, and how its high prices is fuelled by the gutka industry's demand.
- Water Diviner
Published in Bangalore Mirror on 2/12/21: This report covered the launch of Jaltol, the open-source water accounting tool we developed. It talks about how Jaltol allows the user/community to create water budgets using available data in the public domain and gives the user the freedom to add their own datasets to derive desired results.
- Jaltol, an open-source digital tool to ensure water security in rural India
Published in Gaon Connection on 1/12/21: This publication also covered the Jaltol launch. The report quotes speakers from the event such as Jeff Albert, Deputy Chief of the USAID-funded WASHPaLS project, who described Jaltol as a tool that has the potential to allow evidenced-based planning to happen in earnest.
- Why wastewater holds the key to building climate-resilient cities? by Sneha Singh
Published in Deccan Herald on 13/11/21: This op-ed was written in connection with the COP climate summit in Glasgow, where the Water for Climate pavilion underlined how closely aligned climate and water goals are. Urban development is contingent on the availability of water but we are running out of freshwater sources. The article discusses integrated urban water management, which prioritises wastewater treatment and effective reuse, as an important part of the solution.
- Missing data: Who’s using Bengaluru’s water by Dr Veena Srinivasan and Apoorva R
Published in HT Insight on 3/11/21: While we can get a reasonable estimate of domestic water use from surveys and billing data, there remains a serious knowledge gap on water use by commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) water-users in Indian cities. In this op-ed, the authors underline the need to strengthen the accounting of water use through better reporting and aggregation.