Access to water and sanitation is a universal right

19.11.2015, Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe. Toilet facilities at the Ruware primary school.
Access to water and sanitation is a human right. Schoolchildren washing their hands in front of the toilet facilities at the Ruware primary school in Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe. © Andreas Steiner, SDC

Today, around 844 million people have no access to safe drinking water. The SDC is working to ensure that people have reliable supplies of drinking water and adequate sanitation. Recognised as a human right since 2010, access to drinking water and sanitation are essential to meeting basic human needs.

SDC focus

Water is common property, and access to drinking water and sanitation is a human right. The SDC works to ensure that people have adequate supply of drinking water and access to sanitation and treatment plants enabling them to maintain adequate hygiene. Switzerland has extensive expertise in the field of water that is recognised across the globe and supports a range of activities:

  • applied research and innovation
  • financing to improve access to water and wastewater disposal worldwide
  • developing new approaches to services and new partnerships with the private sector (water stewardship)
  • upscaling of infrastructure programmes. It also provides capacity building and training to ensure that facilities function properly.

The SDC brings the practical experience it has gained to political dialogue between governments, the private sector and civil society in order to promote mutual learning and support the implementation of workable, sustainable solutions.


According to the UN, around 844 million people currently have no access to drinking water. Furthermore, 2.3 billion people live without adequate sanitation facilities and 892 million still practice open defecation. Poor sanitation conditions alone cause 80% of the diseases prevalent in developing countries. Around the world, 1,000 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases as a result of drinking contaminated water. However, in many cases the problem is not due to a shortage of water as such but rather to the absence of national and international funding commitments to provide access to water of suitable quality where it is needed. For that reason, the SDC seeks to cooperate with all stakeholders in developing a system that in the long term will enable everyone to enjoy access to clean drinking water.


Current projects

Object 1045 – 1056 of 1107

Sustainable Energy Action Fund

11.05.2016 - 07.11.2019

The objectives of this Fund are to enhance the sustainable energy management at the municipal level in Romania by improving municipal infrastructure, building capacity and raising awareness about energy efficiency and renewable energy in order to increase living standards, promote economic development and provide a response to climate change.

Sustainable Urbanization Trust Fund

11.05.2016 - 31.12.2019

The Sustainable Urbanization Trust Fund (IDSUN) managed by The World Bank supports the Government of Indonesia and selected Indonesian cities to address the challenges of sustainable urbanization. It entails technical assistance and capacity-building to meet pressing needs in urban infrastructure financing, urban management and strategic project preparation.

Domestic Revenue Mobilization Ghana, Phase III

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2022

The overall objective is to contribute to domestic revenue mobilization to enable Ghana to finance its development needs and reduce poverty. This will be achieved through support to national tax policy and administration reforms, building capacity for subnational revenue mobilization and strengthening revenue management of the extractive sector.

Program for sustainable production in the cacao sector in Indonesia, Phase II

15.04.2016 - 31.12.2020

Indonesia is third largest cocoa producer in the world with 15% market share mainly in mass market cocoa. Growing global demand for cocoa, as well as increasing competition for a declining supply of Indonesian cocoa are catalysts for greater private sector investment and development initiatives to strengthen the cocoa industry.

Technical assistance for the Central Tax Administration, Phase II

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2020

Burkina Faso is fighting against poverty and social inequality. Increased transparency and better domestic revenue mobilization help in dealing with those challenges. Additional resources – coming from a more efficient tax administration – allow the country to develop further while reducing external dependence. SECO funded a first phase of the project to the Central Tax Administration (2009-2014). The encouraging results obtained, also with regard to the fight against corruption, have allowed planning for a second phase to ensure sustainability of the progress made. Many crucial lessons have been learned. This allows to tackle this project with confidence in a context of political renewal and economic challenges in Burkina Faso.

Financial Reporting and Audit Enhancement Project

01.04.2016 - 30.06.2020

The Kyrgyz Audit and Reporting Enhancement Project (Karep) seeks to improve access to reliable and transparent financial information of both the public and the private sector, thereby improving transparency and the investment climate for both sectors. This is achieved with the implementation of international standards for financial reporting and audit. Karep is implemented by the Centre for Financial Reporting Reform that is part of the World Bank Group.

Can Tho Urban Development and Resilience Project

10.03.2016 - 31.12.2021

Co-financed together with the World Bank, the Can Tho Urban Development and Resilience Project aims to increase the resilience of Can Tho City, Vietnam, to adverse climate change related events by proactively addressing the two biggest threats to its socioeconomic development: flooding and uncontrolled urbanization.

Water Utility Reform Support Program

01.03.2016 - 31.12.2019

A safe, reliable and inclusive provision of water and sanitation services is of key importance for sustainable development. Beyond the mere provision of infrastructure, framework conditions need to be right and service operators need to have the skills to manage and operate their water systems in a sustainable manner.

Ghana urban mobility and accessibility project

01.03.2016 - 31.12.2020

This project, which aims at improving urban mobility and accessibility in Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), builds upon initiatives previously promoted by the World Bank (WB) and the Agence française de Développement (AFD). SECO support will strengthen the capacities of an array of selected beneficiaries in GAMA in issues as public transport planning and traffic management. Besides, a collaboration between EPFL and KNUST University in Ghana will be established so as to train students in the field of urban mobility and accessibility, thus further contributing to reinforcing the sector in Ghana. While most SECO's resources will be earmarked for institutional strengthening, targeted quick wins investments are also planned.

WB: Corporate Financial Reporting Program, Serbia (FINREP Serbia)

01.02.2016 - 31.01.2020

The program is executed by both, the World Bank's Vienna based Center for Financial Reporting Reform and by the recipient Serbian Government. Its supports Serbia to align its regulatory framework with the EU's acquis communautaire and with international best practice in the area of corporate financial reporting.

Mobile Financial Services Program

01.02.2016 - 31.12.2021

The main objective of the Ghana Mobile Financial Services Program (MFS) is to improve financial inclusion of Ghana’s population by increasing access to low cost financial services to the un(der)banked. Mobile financial services have proven to be an effective tool to promote financial inclusion because they are very cost-effective (affordable for the poor) and they allow for scale by building on a platform that exists even in poor and remote areas of the world (mobile phones).

Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Financing

01.02.2016 - 30.04.2020

SECO finances the Technical Assistance Facility of SUNREF 2 (Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Financing Program, phase 2). The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) supports with a green credit line a few South African banks to provide loans to SME's for projects in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Object 1045 – 1056 of 1107