Swiss Junior Water Prize: visit to the House of Government in Bern

Every year, young talents who reach the highest scores at the National Contest Swiss Youth in Science are invited to spend a day at the House of Government in Bern, where they are hosted by the Federal President in turn.

Zamir Borojevic, winner of the Swiss Junior Water Prize 2019, who reached the excellent mark in this year’s contest, was among the group of students visiting the Federal Assembly on 28th November. The group had the opportunity to exchange about their subjects of interest with President Mr. Ueli Maurer, who congratulated all the winners on their success in the National Competition and exhorted them to take their knowledge out into the world and use every opportunity to spread innovative Swiss ideas internationally.

Read the press release here (in German) Medienmitteilung | Empfang Bundespräsident 2019

Young scientists from SJWP address leaders attending COP25

“They are our future, the next generation can continue where we left off. But before they can do it, we need to start taking action, now.”  

Zamir Borojevic, winner of the Swiss Junior Water Prize 2019 and fellow finalist of this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize sent a messages to the international leaders gathering im Madrid for COP25.The World Climate Summit 2019 takes place in Madrid from 2nd to 13th December with the objective of reaching agreements and commitments between nations to fight agains the effects of climate change.

Watch the message here

Read also the statement of the finalists on climate change Young Water Scientists Call for Climate Action. 

Report: Swiss Junior Water Prize

As winner of the Swiss-JWP, Zamir Borojevic was entitled to represent Switzerland at the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) during the last week of August 2019. This is the most prestigious event dedicated to water and Mr. Borojevic proved to be a worthy ambassador of Swiss youth, displaying deep knowledge on the subject of his research during the project presentation in front of the international jury.

>>>>>>>>>>>> Read the full report HERE. <<<<<<<<<<<<<

Swiss Entry

Tardigrades Under the Influence of Acidic and Alkaline Solutions,
and UV-C Radiation – Zamir Borojevic

Tardigrades are very small animals who belong to the taxon of Ecdysozoa, and are found in most water bodies, sediment and moss. They have developed the unique ability to react to rapidly changing environmental conditions by changing their physical
characteristics and taking on different stages of resistance. Climate change not only has an influence on temperatures around the world, but it also affects the physical characteristics of different waters, which results in need of adaptation for all organisms living in aquatic ecosystems. The aim is to investigate the tolerance and vitality of Hypsibius exemplaris under the influence of different pH values and different dosages of UV-C light and thereby create a diagram for their tolerance and vitality for each experiment.

Contest and related activities

A total of 56 finalists from 35 countries submitted written projects to enter the SWJP at the beginning of June. During the contest week in Stockholm, each finalist was interviewed by the 7 members of the jury who had previously read and evaluated the submitted projects. The Swiss contestant was interviewed on Monday 26th August in the second group of finalists. Besides the interviews by the jury and the projects’ exhibition framed within the World Water Week, the contestants attended a series of events that encourage intercultural exchange and strengthen friendship bonds among the participants. They were also the main actors during Malin Falkenmark´s Young Scientists Symposyum on Climate Change, where the finalists submitted a common Youth Statement on Water and Climate Change to be included in the final review of the World Water Week. The highlight event was the award ceremony of the SJWP, where the finalists had the opportunity to meet H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, patron of the prize.

Winning project

Winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2019 was Macinley Butson, from the Australia, for her project “The SODIS Sticker – Development of an Inexpensive and Deployable Film-based Detector for Accurate Ultraviolet Solar Disinfection (SODIS) of Water”.

>>>>>>>>>>> Read the full report HERE. <<<<<<<<<<<<<

This is what Stockholm Junior Water Prize is about!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, tens of thousands of brilliant young minds around the world develop astonishing innovations to tackle today´s water challenges. The winners of their national competitions come together for the finals of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize during the World Water Week.

The Swiss Water Partnership and the Swiss Toilet Organisation have joined forces to carry out the Swiss Junior Water Prize since 2017, entitling the winners to represent Switzerland in the international contest in Stockholm, in a week full of unforgettable emotions.

Meet the 56 finalists of 2019 and learn more about this inspirational event in the video here.

Summary - WWW Session: "Addressing Discrimination and Neglect in WASH: An Uncomfortable Conversation"

A panel discussion on Addressing Discrimination and Neglect in WASH: An Uncomfortable Conversation took place at Stockholm World Water Week on 29 August 2019. It included interventions from 6 organisations under the auspices of the Swiss Water Partnership, and was facilitated by Kerstin Danert (Skat).

This session addressed the specific needs of people who are often neglected or discriminated against, including women, girls, poor people, prisoners, people with mental health issues and sexworkers. Below is a brief overview of the topics discussed during the session. You can watch a video of the session recording here.

Neglecting the rights of people in prisons

John Brogan (Terre des Hommes) described the situation in prisons. More than 11 million people globally live in prisons, over half of them in low- and middle-income countries – and the global prison population is rising. In the context of the SDGs and universal access, a lot of work has been done to increase and improve access to WASH services in institutions such as schools and health facilities. However, prisons are often left out of these efforts. Not a lot of research done on this topic: UNC recently published the first systematic review of environmental health conditions in prisons.  While the most common risk factor identified was contaminated food and/or beverages prepared or handled in the institution’s kitchen, few studies had conducted in low- and middle-income countries, biasing the results of this review. Getting access to prisons is often difficult: working on WASH infrastructure can however open doors to study prison populations and the specific needs of prisoners, including women and children. Indeed, as Shivani Swamy (Livinguard Technologies) pointed out, in India, children are allowed to stay in prisons with their mothers until the age of 5. Their needs, and that of women, are often neglected.

A participant also pointed out that a project by an NGO to improved sanitation conditions in a prison was killed off by senior management, as it wanted to be seen to help out women and children rather than prisoners which may be a harder sell to the public and to donors. Another participant thanked the panelist for raising this issue, which had been highlighted by the UN rapporteur on the rights to water and sanitation.

The taboos around menstruation for girls and women

Lucie Leclert (Swiss Water & Sanitation Consortium) addressed the topic of menstruation, which remains taboo for many people. Lucie outlined the lack of adequate infrastructure in schools, and the fact that girls are very often not informed before their first menstruation. Menstruation can be a factor in missing or dropping out of school. Boys and girls should be included when discussing menstruation:  the Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium developed the Blue Schools kit, which includes a chapter entitled “Grow and change”, which it focuses more broadly on puberty changes and provides practical exercises and games for children, to give them information about menstruation.

Menstruation is also a topic of interest for Shivani Swamy  (Livinguard Technologies) whose company has started to manufacture Saafkins, which are reusable sanitary napkins, for women in India. It addresses the specific needs of some vulnerable groups, including women in prisons and sexworkers, who may being unable to afford underwear. Her experience in accessing a women’s prison in India is that women often have no access to soap, no privacy – it becomes difficult for women to manage their menstruation in these conditions. Furthermore, she highlighted that her company had received some backlash from people on social media for addressing the needs of these women as they were perceived as ‘not needy’ or not deserving improved access to menstrual pads.

One of the participants (Esther de Vreede from the organisation Simavi – who is also a member of the SDC Sub-RésEAU Africa ) pointed out that while it is often assumed that girls miss out on school because of menstruation. Research shows that lack of sanitation infrastructure or pads is not the main reason why girls miss out on school. In Uganda, for instance, pain during their periods was the main factor for girls missing school. She also suggested to talking about Menstrual Health Management rather than Menstrual Hygiene Management, which implies that menstruation is unhygienic.

Community-Led Total Sanitation – a discriminatory approach?

Carolien Van der Voorden (Water and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)) outlined that CLTS (an well-known methodology whereby communities are mobilised to completely eliminate open defecation) may not be as inclusive as we would like to think. A study from WSSCC on inequality in CLTS showed some examples of discrimination for people with mental health issues. In one case, a man was banned from a village so that the community could achieve Open Defecation Free status while the inspectors were visiting. People were also forced to take out loans to achieve the minimum standard that the community had set for latrines. In one case, this led to an elderly man losing his land. There are also positive examples of CLTS being inclusive and considering the needs of vulnerable people, but we need to be aware of these other cases. WSSCC is now taking action by making CLTS facilitators more aware of inequalities and preconceptions, in order to ensure that these initiatives do no harm, and has published a new handbook on equality and discrimination for CLTS facilitators.

Shared sanitation: lack of standards excludes residents in informal settlements

Vasco Schelbert (EAWAG) explained that shared sanitation facilities are predominant in low-income and informal settlement in cities. They can take many forms: shared between households, public or community toilets. However, shared facilities are not considered a basic service under the JMP ladder for sanitation, which is used to monitor the SDGs. For this reason, public authorities and NGOs alike do not invest in these solutions, which is excluding a service which people in informal settlements use and need. EAWAG is working on standards to be able to assess the quality of shared sanitation services, with a view to incorporate this in global monitoring systems such as the JMP.

The role of bilateral donors such as the Swiss Development Cooperation

Nadia Benani (SDC) emphasised the role of donors in raising awareness in relation to issues which are uncomfortable but need to be addressed to help the most vulnerable. She highlighted the need for donors to move away from the concept of “trickle down economics” in order to focus on the poorest and most marginalised people in society. The magnitude of people excluded in the WASH sector is huge – half of the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. SDC’s approach is to engage with a range of partners in order to promote innovative approaches which support vulnerable people.

Conclusion

The rapporteur, Soraya Kohler (Swiss Water Partnership), concluded that many barriers in the WASH sector still need to be overcome for marginalised and vulnerable populations for the goal of universal access to WASH to be achieved. We need to ensure that issues around equality and discrimination – and on the Leave no one behind concept more broadly – remains on the agenda in international development and in the water sector more specifically.

Authors: Meleesa Naughton and Julie Smolnitchi (Skat)

> Download PDF here.

SWP Youth Water Group | Kick-Off Meeting

 Discussing Bern-ing Questions at the first SWP Youth Water Group Meeting

Swiss Young Voice – Swiss young expertise for a water secure world

SWP Youth Water Group – Kick-off Event

blog post author: Indira Urazova, supported by Elodie Feijoo Seara and the SWP Secretariat

On September 25, 2019, young minds from all over Switzerland gathered in Bern to discuss the challenges they face in the water sector. The event, organized by the Swiss Water Partnership, brought together young people and experts from the fields of water engineering, social sciences and water management to investigate the needs of young people in the professional water world.

Students and experts first learned more about each other’s exciting work through two warm-up exercises that allowed them to understand the important place water has in their lives. One young professional, Katarina, shared her experience of growing up on a farm with no water connection in Ukraine. Darcy, an experienced water engineer teaching at the ETH Zurich surprised everyone with a similar story about growing up in a village with no water supply in Africa. Elodie, from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, told everyone about her Master’s thesis on the use of water as a weapon in the Syrian war and her fieldwork experience in Turkey. As it turned out, most people in the group had some kind of a personal connection to water issues, and this revelation broke the ice and provided an excellent base connect with each other.

The meeting proceeded with the presentation of SWP’s Youth Strategy on the engagement of youth in the water sector. Darcy succinctly summarized the important points about SWP’s role in promoting water issues among young people, and participants were able to move on to discussing what they could contribute to the strategy. As young participants shared their aspirations and frustrations about being a beginner in the water sector, it became clear that their concerns could be broadly divided into two themes, aligned with two sub-goals of the SWP Youth Strategy:

  • Make the water sector more attractive to pupils and students
  • Support young professionals to enter the Water Sector in Development Cooperation

After a short discussion, participants defined two main challenges falling into one of these themes and split into two groups to come up with a working solution to these problems.

The first group took up the task of making the water sector more attractive to Swiss young people. The group came up with an exciting idea about ‘A Youth Water festival’ that would gather hundreds of school and university students on the World Water Day 2020. The idea is to present the water sector and its diversity to those unfamiliar with it, as well as to provide more precise information and networking possibilities to the others. The needs of two different targets groups would as such be met in a single event. The festival would have activities, such as a river clean-up and a movie screening followed by a discussion, but also stands allowing young people to meet experts from the sector. It would also promote innovation with an innovation competition and presentations of latest technologies. Finally, there would, of course be an artistic component with music concerts and water street art.

The second group took on the challenges young people encounter in the professional water world. Visibly concerned, the students shared their experiences of going through the difficult process of finding opportunities in the sector and pointed to the power imbalance that does not allow young people to change the sector from the bottom. Guided by Sarah from the World Water Parliament for Youth, the students brainstormed ideas about changing the current situation. The result – both useful and entertaining event called ‘Networkshops’ or ‘Netwatershops’ that would allow students to network and learn from the experts in the field. The core of the programme would include a few short talks by water experts, a water-fair segment where students would talk to the experts and learn about the inner workings of their organizations, and finally a networking aperitif, where young people and experts could socialize and get to know each other.

The event was followed by Sarah’s presentation on the governance structure of the World Youth Parliament for Water. The students and young professionals gained an insight into how to potentially organize a SWP Youth Water Group. The topic of YWG governance is next on the agenda, and the participants agreed to convene again sometime in November to discuss the issue.

After the fruitful day of deliberations and discussions, all of the participants, by that time hungry, were happy to enjoy their conversations over a lovely aperitif.

  • More information on the two ideas developed during the workshop can be found HERE.
  • Get the PDF version of this blog post HERE.

 

Press Release: Without Water - No Peace, No Life, No Economy

Press Release on the Importance of Water for International Cooperation: 

Without Water – No Peace, No Life, No Economy

On the occasion of the launch of the new 100 Swiss Franc bank note on 12th September 2019, which highlights

  • the importance of water for humanity,
  • symbolizes solidarity and
  • emphasizes the long-standing humanitarian side of the country,

and following the joint effort in publishing a position paper on water that was endorsed by over 15’200 individuals from the Swiss water sector, the Swiss Water Partnership (SWP) has issued a press release on the importance of water for the Swiss international cooperation (available in French, Italian and German)!

You will find the press release and a high-resolution picture in three languages hereafter:

SWP Position Paper on Water

Position Paper on Water linked to the public consultation for the Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2021 – 2024

The Swiss Water Partnership is delighted to present you the

Four steps how you can contribute to the importance to the human right to water in 10 minutes until 21 August 2017, 17.00 CEST:

  1. Endorse the SWP Position Paper on Water on behalf of your organisation and
  2. Endorse the SWP Position Paper on Water on your own behalf
  3. Share the message with at least three Swiss-based contacts (the message is attached in German, French and Italian)
  4. Write a letter on behalf of your organisation, that you support the SWP position paper and send a PDF- and Word-File to this email: M21-24@eda.admin.ch

Many thanks for emphasizing the importance of water for everyone!

Background:

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Human Security Division (HSD) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), together with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), have been working for several months on the draft Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2021–24 (DE, FR, IT). This process began in summer 2018 and will continue until the draft is adopted by the Federal Council and by Parliament in 2020.

The FDFA and the EAER have for the first time decided to launch an optional public consultation (DE, FR, IT) in order to gather input from the cantons, political parties, umbrella associations and other stakeholders involved in Switzerland’s international cooperation. The consultation will run until 23 August 2019.

References:
– Cover Letter Public Consultation (by Iganzio Cassis and Guy Parmelin) (DE, FR, IT)
– Draft of the Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2021–24 (DE, FR, IT).

In case of any further questions, please contact our focal point Sandra Fürst.

> Read the 2019 SWP Position Paper on Water here.