Water is overtaking all fuel sources as the world's number one geopolitical resource. Between now and 2030, demand for water is set to increase by more than 50% – amplifying the potential for conflict over who controls this vital resource. Climate change is also heightening geopolitical tensions over access to water and water governance.
Access to drinking water and sanitation as well as knowledge of basic hygiene are two of the most successful and cost-effective measures for reducing infant mortality, avoiding loss of productivity due to disease, and preventing pandemics.
The head of the FDFA, Ignazio Cassis, dedicated his Central Asia visit in July to this priority issue. Switzerland, which acts as a key water reservoir for neighbouring countries, has experience and expertise in this area that are unique. The FDFA's Blue Peace initiative, for example, consists of technical and strategic solutions for dialogue based on promoting peace with a view to ensuring access to water for all. "Our focus is on setting up good water management systems, which is particularly important in cross-border regions. I am very proud that Switzerland is contributing to stability and peace in this way," noted Cassis.
Through the SDC, the FDFA is stepping up its support for the Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium (SWSC), which is made up of ten Swiss NGOs. One of the SWSC's main objectives is for members to share know-how in order to create innovative approaches, synergies and best practices. This consortium approach increases the impact of each NGO's work, enabling the SWSC to become a crucial stakeholder in water, sanitation and hygiene at international level.
Improving community resilience and education for girls
The SWSC also makes a valuable contribution to the overall goal of the Blue Peace initiative through its work for the world's most vulnerable communities – building sanitation and hygiene facilities and providing access to clean water. It also focuses on health centres and schools, prioritising infection prevention and control (epidemics), teaching basic hygiene practices, and raising awareness of menstrual hygiene. This approach makes it possible to promote access to education for girls while improving a community's resilience to disease and climate change. The SWSC also conducts parallel activities to build the capacities of authorities in charge of water and sanitation and to lobby local governments.
The projects running until the end of the new budget in 2027 will give more than 750,000 people access to drinking water as well as raising Switzerland's profile in the water sector at international level.
The 13 countries where the SWSC works:
• Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sudan
• Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal
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