Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Analysis of the technology selection process and its effect on the socio-technical sustainability of water and sanitation systems in selected areas of Pakistan

  • Project team:

    Malik, Adeel (Dissertation)

  • Funding:

    Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Research group:

    Sustainability and environment

Project description

Despite many years of international attention and efforts, water and sanitation infrastructure still remains a challenge for most developing countries in the world, and is now considered as a top development priority. Governments and international development organizations are pressured to achieve target-oriented goals (such as the Millennium Development Goals) in the sector, shifting the focus from sustainable sanitation provision to sanitation coverage. In recent years this responsibility has shifted from governments to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international donors. This in turn has led to an increased role of donors and NGOs in decision making rather than elected officials, further decreasing the importance of the needs and preferences of the users. This is evident from the choice of technologies selected to deal with the problem. Most of these technologies are selected as physical objects based on the internal policies of these bodies and as replications of successful implementations elsewhere in the world. The particular technologies selected depend on the power relations and technical frames that exist between the different actors involved and are not necessarily based on the unbiased knowledge of the stakeholders. Certain social groups may dominate the process and influence these technical frames, the outcome of which is that the technology chosen is not sustainable in the long run. Perhaps this is why more than half of the water and sanitation projects implemented globally are not considered to be sustainable in the long run. The process of implementation of these technologies within different contextual spheres also affects the ultimate usage and effectiveness of these technologies.

Planning for sustainable water and sanitation technologies in developing countries requires analyses of the selection process of these technologies, their social construction within different contexts, their method and process of implementation into communities and ultimately of how this determines the sustainability of the systems in question. These questions form the basic objectives of the study, which, when analyzed, will aim to improve the implementation of water and sanitation technologies in the development context for better and more sustainable outcomes. A constructivist approach with interviews as the main methodological tool will be adopted for the study.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald
Advisor: Dr. Helmut Lehn, Jürgen Kopfmüller
Doctoral students at ITAS: See Doctoral studies at ITAS


Adeel Malik, M.Sc.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe