Building bridges – Switzerland works to increase cooperation in the water sector – across borders and generations. <br/> Photo: © SDC

Building bridges – Switzerland works to increase cooperation in the water sector – across borders and generations.
Photo: © SDC

Water – joint responsibility, joint solutions

Water as a source of cooperation instead of conflict, access to clean drinking water, and involving the private sector in efforts for sustainable water resources management: these were Switzerland's priorities for the 2018 World Water Forum that took place from 18 to 22 March in the Brazilian capital Brasilia.

Technical and political solutions to sustainable water management are more important than ever. Water has become one of the key elements not only in the fight against poverty but also for peace and political stability. Because of its long-standing expertise and experience in the water sector, Switzerland took part in the largest international meeting on water in Brasilia, Brazil, where it presented its approach to sustainable water management. 
“Day Zero” is the day when the taps in Cape Town are predicted to run dry for the city's four million inhabitants. And it is approaching fast. Similar prospects are looming in other parts of the world too. Today’s estimates alone put 2.1 million people without access to clean drinking water and 4.5 million without access to properly functioning sanitation facilities.
There needs to be action. In keeping with the ‘Sharing Water’ motto of this year’s World Water Forum held in Brasilia from 18 to 22 March, Switzerland shared its many years of experience and the concrete results that have been achieved through its development cooperation.

Putting it into practice

Despite a diverse range of feasible solutions, running water and adequate sanitation facilities can no longer be taken for granted in many regions. Just ask Reynaldo Quispitupa from Siusa, a rural community in the south-east of Peru. At the Forum he remembered how they didn't have any toilets and had to put up with poor quality drinking water.
Now, thanks to a comprehensive basic sanitation programme (SABA, which stands for saneamiento basico) initiated by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) in Peru 20 years ago, the entire population of Siusa has access to sanitation facilities. The SABA programme focuses on developing water infrastructure, which includes building toilets, and involves everyone concerned.
In addition, the municipal authorities receive training and the local communities take part in identifying which services need to be guaranteed in order to maintain the infrastructure. Trained local staff monitor water quality, add the required amounts of chlorine to the reservoirs and maintain the pipes.
With projects like SABA, which include political dialogue and knowledge exchange with Peru’s neighbours, the SDC’s Global Programme Water is working to increase the pace at which the right to clean drinking water and adequate basic sanitation is put into practice.
Recognised as a human right in 2010, it is both essential to satisfy basic human needs and to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SABA programme has since been extended throughout Peru. The project’s approach has also been adopted in neighbouring Colombia.
Switzerland presented this SDC programme at the World Water Forum, where the factors for its success and the challenges that it has faced were discussed, as well as how the same integrated approach could be applied in other countries to create access to water and sanitation in rural areas.

For more information: Switzerland at the 2018 World Water Forum in Brasilia

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