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 1 – 12 of 121

Sustainable Natural Resources Management (NRM) for Enhanced Pastoralist Food Security in the Borana Zone, Ethiopia.

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2027

Natural resources, particularly water and pasture, are among the key determinants of pastoralist livelihoods’ sustainability. The proposed Project contributes to the outcomes of the SDC’s Food Security Domain as stipulated in the Swiss Cooperation Strategy Horn of Africa. It aims at improving pastoralist food security and adaptive capacities in the lowlands of Borana Zone, Southern Ethiopia, through enhancing the sustainable management of natural resources.


GVCD - Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Through the Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme, Switzerland contributes to covering basic needs and fostering social cohesion in the Gaza Strip. The successful intervention model applied in the 1st Phase is extended and scaled up under this 2nd Phase. Small infrastructure projects addressing basic needs of vulnerable communities serve as an entry point for a local dialogue on development priorities, enabled through building the capacities of both duty bearers and right holders, including youth and women.


Contribution to Swiss Water Partnership (SWP)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025

The Swiss Water Partnership is a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together Swiss organizations from the academic, civil society including youth, public and private sectors, to join forces and find innovative solutions for water challenges in developing and transition countries. Umbrella of Swiss water stakeholders at the international level, carrying the diversity of the Swiss voice, the SWP is an important complementary partner to SDC to accelerate the 2030 water agenda.


City-to-City Partnership Hawassa – Lugano

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2026

This contribution supports an innovative Swiss-Ethiopian municipal twinning partnership to enhance capacity at the sub-national level to manage access to drinking water in good quantity and quality according to the Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 and 6.3 in underserved communities. The partnership will be accompanied by a research and education component, involving local and Swiss innovative university partnerships.


RAPID+ The Kenya Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development Plus

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2026

Pastoralist communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) have for a very long time adapted to the harsh environments to derive livelihoods (mainly livestock). Communities in the ASALs are facing multiple pressures of climate change, degraded natural resources and conflicts. This program supports the historically marginalised and under-developed pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya to access safe, reliable and affordable Water and manage their rangeland ecosystem sustainably.  


Contribution au Fond national pour l’eau, l’hygiène et l’assainissement au Niger

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2022

Les progrès réalisés dans le secteur de l’eau et de l’assainissement sont freinés par la forte croissance démographique. Le sous-financement du secteur ne permet pas d’améliorer significativement l’accès à l’eau et à l’assainissement. En contribuant au Fonds national pour l’eau, la Suisse appuie le gouvernement dans ses efforts; par son dialogue politique elle soutient la décentralisation du secteur, où elle a une forte valeur ajoutée. 


Contribution to Earth Security

01.10.2021 - 31.03.2025

This programme aims at catalysing new financial mechanisms and partnerships, including with the Swiss finance sector, which promote water-related ecosystem services of forests

as a ‘climate solution’ vital to the water cycle and to the benefit of society. While global in scope it will focus low and lower-middle income countries. It will leverage Swiss Know-How across the Federal Administration and contribute to the climate mainstreaming goal of the Dispatch 2021-24. 


Global Hydrometry Support facility (WMO HydroHub)

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2026

Reliable hydro-meteorological observations and forecasts are critical to implement better water resources management practices and policies, and reduce water insecurity. By pursuing its support to the Global Hydrometry Support facility, Switzerland will contribute to improving hydrological services in developing countries. By so doing, SDC will help save lives and trigger economic development derived from increased productivity and reduced asset losses. 


Promoting Water Stewardship 2030 (Phase Il)

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2024

Water stewardship promotes the sustainable and equitable management of freshwater resources among communities, businesses, utilities and investors. SDC supports the Alliance for Water Stewardship, the CDP Water Security Programme and Water Witness International synergistically to advocate for water stewardship particularly in developing countries. SDC is a forerunner in bringing together these key actors to increase outreach and impact.


Scaling-up improved sanitation – Bridging Phase Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF)

01.05.2021 - 30.04.2022

Investments in Sanitation, Hygiene and Menstrual Health are crucial to achieving the SDGs. The recently launched and UN-led Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF) aims to fill a gaping void in the international response to the sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health crisis. With this project, Switzerland supports the SHF in its operational set-up, starting country readiness work, resource mobilization and to become operational by early 2022


Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca Region - phase II

01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Program facilitates the empowerment of the Watershed Councils of the Nacaome, Choluteca and Sampile rivers in the Gulf of Fonseca Region in terms of their leadership and sustainable and participatory management of the water governance system. This contributes to collaborative processes and investments in the frame of the formulation and implementation of watershed plans, indirectly benefiting 500,000 inhabitants.


Cryospheric Observation and Modelling for improved Adaptation in Central Asia (CROMO-ADAPT)

01.04.2021 - 31.12.2025

Climate change in Central Asia mountain regions will have significant impacts on water availability and occurrence of natural hazards. This project strengthens the glacier, snow and permafrost monitoring systems and capacities in Central Asia, develops user-oriented climate information services, and supports the planning of adaptation measures to increase resilience to climate change. The project builds on Swiss expertise in monitoring and adaptation in alpine water and disaster risk management.

Object 1 – 12 of 121