Environmental solutions in emerging economies

Emerging economies often suffer from a lack of clean water and sanitation, resulting in health and environmental risks. This problem is especially alarming in urban and industrialized areas where a high population density results in high resource consumption and pollution.

In Vietnam for example, industries and people often are located in the delta areas. In these economically important but vulnerable regions, high water consumption and wastewater production may lead to water pollution, ground water depletion and salt water intrusion, limiting good quality water availability. As result, competition arises between industries, agriculture and citizens occurs.


In this research theme we aim to develop concepts and technologies for circular, resource-oriented management of wastewater and solid waste (residues), tailored for specific situations in emerging economies, like Southern-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.


To deal with water shortage problems, ETE scientists specialized in urban engineering, assess water quantity and quality. This information is subsequently used to develop sustainable, more circular strategies and technologies. Examples are water saving, water treatment for recovery and reuse, adding alternative water sources (multi-sourcing) and cascading: recycling used water directly for another specific use. In example is using shower water to flush the toilet. However, implementation of these solutions can be complicated by a lack of (economical) resources, climate and local regulations. A similar approach and technologies are used to recover nutrients and organic matter from urban and agricultural residues for reuse in agriculture.

Research areas

The most important research areas and projects contributing to circular management of waste water and waste, while recovering valuable resources are:

  • In LOTUSHR different research institutes from The Netherlands and India collaborate to develop universal water management and risk assessment strategies that are applicable for megacities all around the world. Water treatment, including resource recovery, is performed using a chain of technologies. For example, anaerobic digestion, vital urban filters and micro algae. Efficient treatment and reuse can be achieved by applying these technologies separately or in combination to produce different qualities of water, for agricultural, industrial or urban reuse.
  • ENTIRE project aims for circular use of water in the urbanized and industrialized deltas of countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Depending on reuse, customized solutions are provided using high-tech physical chemical treatment, but also nature-based technologies.
  • Bangladesh delta project (Water4Rice) develops safe water reuse plans for peri-urban areas of the delta region.