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

Object 97 – 106 of 106

Programme d’appui à une gouvernance agricole inclusive en Haiti (PAGAI) - Phase 1

01.07.2016 - 31.07.2022

Le PAGAI vise l’amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire et du revenu des exploitations agricoles à travers un meilleur accès des producteurs-trices à des services, des innovations susceptibles d’augmenter la performance et la rentabilité économique de l’agriculture familiale en Haïti. L’expérience et l’expertise reconnues de la Suisse dans le renforcement des petites exploitations agricoles permettra l’accompagnement de 10'000 exploitants-tes agricoles et de 30 organisations paysannes dans le Sud d’Haïti afin qu’ils puissent mieux se structurer, jouer des fonctions économiques plus importantes dans les filières agricoles et mieux intégrer les espaces de prise de décision.


Swiss Bluetec Bridge: Swiss start-ups benefit disadvantaged populations

11.02.2016 - 31.05.2024

In addition to the sustainable management of resources and good governance, water-related challenges open up a wide field for technological innovation, particularly in the application of nanotechnologies for water treatment, especially ones which are energy-efficient. The challenge for Swiss Bluetec Bridge is to put these cutting-edge 'Swiss' technologies at the service of the poor and ensure that they are sustainably managed. To do this the project must seek to bridge the gap between public support for start-ups and private investment.


Cartographie des Ressources en Eau

01.09.2015 - 31.03.2022

Une vaste partie du territoire tchadien souffre d’une pénurie chronique d’eau, alors que le pays dispose d’importantes ressources souterraines et de surface. Cette situation est due à un manque de connaissances des ressources et à l’absence d’une politique de l’eau au Tchad. Dans ce contexte, la DDC veut soutenir l’amélioration des connaissances sur les ressources en eau et renforcer les capacités des acteurs clés à établir une gestion active, durable et souveraine des ressources en eau au Tchad.


Handicap International: Comprehensive action against Antipersonnel Mines (APM) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in three departments of Colombia.

01.08.2015 - 31.05.2017

The five decades running armed conflict in Colombia continues to cause humanitarian needs such as internal displacement, landmine contamination and the recruitment of minors by armed groups. Departments of Nariño, Cauca and Cordoba, by geography serve as strategic corridor to the Pacific and Caribe for the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs, weapons and illegal mining among others, becoming scenario of social conflicts and armed confrontation. Rural communities in those departments are among the most affected by antipersonnel mines (APM) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) which generate victims with poor access to physical and psychosocial services, as well as option for social, economic and educational inclusion.


Blue Peace Central Asia Strengthening of the Regional Institutional Framework for Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia

01.09.2014 - 31.07.2022

In response to the explicit demand of the five Central Asian States, and building on over 20 years of cooperation in the field of water, SDC facilitates transboundary water resources cooperation consistent with the Blue Peace approach implemented in the Middle-East and at the global level through the establishment of a High Level Dialogue Platform, the promotion of sustainable water practices as well as capacity building of a new generation of water professionals and champions.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Water
Climate change and environment
Water diplomacy and security
Meteorological services
Water resources conservation
Water sector policy

01.09.2014 - 31.07.2022


CHF  6’000’000



Restoration of the Strumica River Basin

01.07.2014 - 31.12.2022

As a continuation of the support to the Macedonian water and nature sector, Switzerland developed a group of projects that will assist the country to have cleaner water and a healthier environment, as well as to move forward in meeting its obligations towards the EU. Through this project, Citizens and farmers in the Strumica river basin will benefit from improved economic wellbeing as a result of a better ecological status of the river basin and reduced flooding hazards.


Aga Khan Foundation: Integrated Health and Habitat Improvement (IHHI) Rasht Valley

01.07.2013 - 31.12.2017

Tajikistan is the poorest country of the former Soviet Union and is marked by a sluggish transition and fragility patterns. This project contributes to improving the Rasht Valley (the most neglected and fragile area of the country) population’s quality of life through better provision of and access to water and health services, as well as increased resilience against natural hazards. Moreover, it enhances professional skills and empowers the local population in planning and investing in its communities.


Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development - Research Module on Social Conflicts and Fragility

01.03.2012 - 31.12.2023

SDC and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) are offering a new long-term funding scheme for development-relevant research on global issues (www.r4d.ch). The main focus lies on the generation of new insights and solutions as well as on the application of research results into policy and practice through partnership projects between researchers from Switzerland and from developing countries. The overall r4d.ch program consists of five thematic modules and a module for thematically open research. The first thematic module focuses on the causes and solutions to social conflicts in the context of weak public institutions.



Swiss Bluetec Bridge: Swiss start-ups benefit disadvantaged populations

01.04.2011 - 31.05.2024

The challenges involving water are creating opportunities for cutting-edgetechnological innovation. The SDC's Swiss Bluetec Bridge initiative supports these innovations to improve access to water for the poorest populations. The first start-up to benefit from a loan is the start-up company “Swiss Fresh Water” which has developed a low-cost system fordesalinating salty or brackish water.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Water
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
Water sanitation

01.04.2011 - 31.05.2024


CHF  2’050’000


Object 97 – 106 of 106