Community Water Supply in Switzerland

What can we learn from a century of successful operation?

In the last decade there has been a marked shift towards decentralisation in many developing countries as responsibilities are passed from national administrations to local authorities.

In many places this shift to a local approach has left the communities isolated and struggling. Many infrastructure projects are in difficulties because of the lack of organisational support and know-how. In Switzerland, rural communities have developed and managed their own water supply networks for a long time – in some cases over 100 years. There may be lessons that have been learned in Switzerland over this period that could be helpful – if properly adapted -to communities in developing countries as they take responsibility for their own systems. The management of water supply schemes in Switzerland is very much the responsibility of the individual communities. In many villages these systems were initiated before the end of the nineteenth century and have proved to be appropriate and sustainable over a long period of time. This publication is not an attempt to promote the ‘Swiss system’ as a model for developing countries, but rather seeks to recount some experiences that may be helpful or relevant. Even if the Swiss approach cannot be exported as it is, there still may be some lessons to be learned from more than a century of experience. These shall be pointed out and illustrated in this publication.

Categories: English | Report, Factsheet | Water

Year: 2003

Authors: Matthias Saladin