Managing water resources sustainably

Srepok River, Vietnam. Efficient water use in coffee production.
Efficient water use in coffee production in the river basin of the Srepok, which feeds into the Mekong river. © Alisher Sharypau

Demand for water continues to grow while the total volume of water available on the planet is limited and increasingly exposed to pollution. The main challenge is to manage the water sustainably and achieve an equitable distribution of water between households, agriculture and industry as well as between countries. The SDC is working to promote sustainable water use between sectors and peaceful cooperation across borders.

SDC Focus

The SDC is committed to achieving sustainable management of water resources to ensure access to water and reduce the risks of environmental degradation and conflicts. It strives to link peacebuilding with sustainable management of water resources in regions where tensions exist, and promote the efficient use, reuse and proper management of water in areas where it is in short supply.

Background

Transboundary cooperation

The SDC promotes dialogue between countries, which rely on the same river basin for their water supply. Sharing policy frameworks and technical information can help deflate existing or nascent tensions and conflicts. Switzerland, as a neutral actor with experience in mediation and acknowledged expertise in water management, is ideally placed to facilitate such discussions. At the technical level, , the SDC also supports common methods of measurement for determining the quality of water available and the quantities of water used. This data enables decision-makers to speak a common language when it comes to the management of shared water resources, and thus work together to set and reach commonly defined objectives.

Water – a commodity to be valued

Water is not free. Its protection, distribution and treatment obey the same economic laws as any other consumer good. At the same time, water is a resource to which everyone should have access, including the poorest and marginalised populations. The SDC develops mechanisms for making better use of water and promoting the reuse of wastewater.  The mechanisms provide incentives to manage water sustainably and construct environmentally friendly infrastructure in a particular region or industry.

For example, the SDC is involved alongside major corporations in facilitating the transfer of knowledge in relation to the water footprint, an indicator that enables the water used in the whole manufacturing cycle of a product to be better managed. The SDC is also pursuing the development of the 'Water Stewardship Standard' which aims to encourage all actors from business, government and civil society to take responsibility for their particular impacts on this shared resource and to work together to achieve sustainable management. Payment mechanisms are also being developed for compensating populations in the river basin areas for protecting water resources.

Current challenges

By 2030, demand for water is expected to rise by 30% while the degradation in quality caused by pollution will reach unprecedented levels.  Worldwide, 80% of urban and industrial wastewater is discharged into the environment without prior treatment. The majority of the time, the self-purification capacity of aquatic ecosystems is largely insufficient to be able to cope with such large volumes. Furthermore, agriculture requires a great deal of water, accounting for almost 70% of global consumption.  However, water is often used inefficiently and can be contaminated by fertilisers and pesticides. In addition, industry currently uses 22% of water and as it continues to grow will put water resources under even greater pressure.

By 2025, half of the world's population will be living in regions suffering permanent water scarcity, which will have the effect of weakening local economies and force millions of people to relocate. That is why it is already especially important today to use water so as to preserve its regenerative capacity and allow it to be distributed equitably.

Current projects

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Production des Connaissances et Appui Institutionnel pour une gestion intégrée des Ressources en Eau au Tchad - ResEau

01.06.2024 - 31.05.2028

Le Tchad subit fortement les effets du changement climatique avec des pluviométries aléatoires. Le sous-sol du Tchad dispose d’un important potentiel en eau. Faute de compétences nationales, ces ressources en eau restent très peu mobilisées. La DDC renforce, à travers ce projet, les compétences et les connaissances nationales pour favoriser une gestion durable de ces ressources et contribue ainsi à la résilience du Tchad face aux changements climatiques.


Provision of CCCM, protection and social cohesion responses to Sudan crisis affected populations in Renk and Manyo Counties, Upper Nile

01.06.2024 - 31.12.2024

To respond to the needs of the growing number of refugees and returnees crossing the border into South Sudan due to the ongoing crisis in the Sudan, both in camp and host community settings. The intervention will improve CCCM, WASH2 and protection in Renk town, in the Transit Center (TC) at Renk and in the Reception Centre (RC) in Joda and Manyo.


Integrated Water Resources Management in Kosovo (IWRM-K)

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2029

Switzerland assists water sector related governments, civil society and private sector stakeholders in Kosovo in the development/implementation of a national integrated and sustainable water resources management framework. Support activities combined with capacity development and awareness building will contribute to enhanced conservation, protection, quality and equitable distribution of water resources. Thus the project also contributes to good governance, reduced risks of internal and transboundary water-related conflicts, the mitigation of climate change impact as well to enhanced the health of the population.


Direct action Chad WASH Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

01.04.2024 - 31.12.2024

Chad hosts over 565’000 refugees from the recent crisis in Sudan, adding to the 595’000 refugees already residing in the country. Acces to safe drinking water is one of the biggest challenges for the Humanitarian actors. SDC provides material to Médécins sans frontiers. for analysing potential water sources and distributing the drinking water obtained. Two SHA experts will introduce the material during a short mission to Chad.


UNICEF, EMOPS Geneva, Core Contribution 2024-2025

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

The Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS) ensures that the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) role in complex emergencies is clearly defined, the organization properly equipped and prepared to deliver its mandate to support the needs of children. SDC’s support to EMOPS in Geneva enables UNICEF to lead inter-agency humanitarian coordination, response and standard setting in Water and Sanitation (WASH), Education, Nutrition and Child Protection.


Safer/Mercy Corps (2023-24)

01.11.2023 - 30.10.2024

Oans un contexte de crise humanitaire aigue, caracterise par des conflits armes et des deplacements de population, SAFER a pour objectif de fournir une assistance d'urgence flexible et coordonnee, contribuant a reduire I'impact immediat d'un choc pour les menages les plus vulnerables au travers d'une reponse multisectorielle en transfert monetaire ainsi que des activites specifiques en Eau, Hygiene et Assainissement d'urgence (EHA), dans les provinces de I'lturi, Nord et Sud Kivu.


VEN:Tierra Viva - Aten. Int. com. indig

15.10.2023 - 31.12.2024

In line with the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela, Fundación Tierra Viva will provide humanitarian assistance in the sectors of health, nutrition and livelihoods to indigenous communities in the state of Bolivar and Delta Amacuro, with the aim of addressing the emergency nutritional situation of children, pregnant and lactating mothers and adults. As well as the recovery and strengthening of agricultural practices. 


Colombia: MIRE+, Assistance to Victims of Violence

01.10.2023 - 31.03.2025

The humanitarian crisis in Colombia continues despite growing efforts towards peace. Armed groups fighting for territory and valuable natural resources inflict extreme harm on rural and ethnic communities. In line with the Swiss interest to respond to humanitarian crises, SDC remains dedicated to supporting these communities, enhancing their individual and collective resilience. The project integrates humanitarian action with a developmental and peace orientation (nexus).


Humanitarian assistance to people affected by the protracted crisis in Venezuela

01.09.2023 - 31.12.2024

Despite a moderate recovery in some economic indicators during 2022, the Venezuelan economy continues to contract during 2023. Meanwhile, there is no improvement in the structural causes of the humanitarian crisis. As a result, the needs of the most vulnerable are still high. Therefore, Caritas aims to facilitate access on health, nutrition, food security and livelihoods, for vulnerable families in eight states according to the Guidance Note for Venezuela 2022-2024. 


Integrated assistance to the vulnerable population affected by migration in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

01.09.2023 - 31.08.2024

The humanitarian situation in Venezuela continues to be critical, as well as the migration crisis of Venezuelans in the region, with more than 7 million Venezuelans abroad. High rates of cross-border mobility are registered with pendular migrants, travellers, returnees and unaccompanied minors. In this project, CISP will provide comprehensive assistance to vulnerable people in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and also Peru with a special focus on protection, WASH, health and livelihoods. 


Contribution to the Geneva Water Hub (2023-2027)

01.09.2023 - 31.08.2027

Globally, access to fresh water resources are dwindling due to growing demand, increasing pollution and climate change. The Geneva Water Hub, co-hosted by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute, is an international center of competence for transboundary water resources management. Through research, education, advocacy and mediation, the Hub addresses water insecurity in water scarce regions, helps to prevent water conflicts and contributes to peace, stability and sustainable development. 


Peru, SEDAPAL: Emergency Water Supply in Lima

01.08.2023 - 31.12.2027

Lima with a population of over 12 million is subject to the highest seismic vulnerability in Peru. Hence, ensuring Lima’s water supply continuity in case of a major earthquake is crucial. The initiative aims at contributing to strengthened preparedness capacities of Lima’s water service provider (SEDAPAL) by improving its technical, financial and logistical capacities, knowledge exchange and inter-sectorial coordination together with key partners from government, academia, and the private sector.

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