AGUASAN Workshop Series


AGUASAN is an interdisciplinary Swiss community of practice (CoP) bringing together a wide range of specialists to promote wider and deeper understanding of key issues in water supply and sanitation in developing and transition countries. Since 1984, the CoP has provided an exemplary, vibrant and most pertinent multi-stakeholder platform and think-tank serving the water sector and has constituted an essential link in the networking and knowledge management strategy of SDC. Besides quarterly knowledge exchange meetings, members of AGUASAN, under the lead of Skat, have also organized an annual international AGUASAN workshop in Switzerland since 1984. At these workshops, project field staff, desk officers, researchers, consultants, other sector specialists and development practitioners from all over the world come together for five days to reflect collectively on a cutting edge theme of the sector.

Project facts



Project Period:

1984 till 2015

Name of Staff involved and functions performed:

Project Manager (workshop lead): Roger Schmid

Project Officers (reporting): André Olschewski, Florian Klingel, Anne Sophie Aublet

Description of the Project

AGUASAN workshops foster a mutual learning experience and utilize the broad and multi-faceted knowledge gathered by participants to collectively elaborate strategies and conceptual tools of practical use in development work. They provide a unique forum to explore, discuss and deepen new issues and trends based on high quality thematic inputs and selected topical case studies. Through this they forge and facilitate the implementation of the Swiss response in water supply and sanitation issues in developing and transition countries. The year 2011 saw the 27th consecutive workshop in what has become a widely renowned and respected series of innovative events generating highly relevant sector knowledge.

AGUASAN workshops undergo an annual cycle of preparation, organisation, realisation and assessment conducted by the steering committee. Every year the team works with a facilitator to choose a “hot” topic and to carefully prepare and structure the event. Due to the nature and purpose of the event, the committee just defines the “playground” for the design of the workshop as a function of the topic, but not solutions or outcomes. This flexibility lays a lot of trust in the hands of the steering committee during the workshop, which has to react to the process during the event and to steer it accordingly (rolling planning). Skat heads the steering committee and bears the overall responsibility of organising and conducting the workshop series. In order to do this, Skat:

  • Facilitates the workshop conceptualisation, development, performance and evaluation of the event by leading the steering committee during the preparation, implementation and after-action phases;
  • Coaches the resource persons as well as the case study preparations and presentations involved;
  • Organises the workshop venue and excursion, whilst assuring all logistics;
  • Supports the workshop secretariat in-between and during the workshops;
  • Performs the reporting of the event and produces workshop proceedings in electronic format as well as wider publications according to the guidance provided by the steering committee;
  • Sub-contracts, manages and evaluates the workshop moderator as well as the resource persons.

Topics of AGUASAN workshops included Caring and Integrated Management (CIM) practices; Private Sector Participation; the Household-Centred Approach (HCA); the opportunities and challenges for the water and sanitation sector in a decentralised context as well as the impact of personal paradigms. The 25th workshop (June 2009) addressed the issues around the “WatSan Contiguum – towards a more dynamic interaction between emergency relief, rehabilitation and development”. The AGUASAN 2010workshop dealt with the topic of “Large Scaling-Up” by trying to answer how to effectively influence large sector investments so that they contribute to the scaling up of successful piloted service delivery models and established good practices in the water supply and sanitation sector. The 27th workshop (June 2011) addressed the issues around the implications and actions needed to put human rights to water and sanitation (HR2WS) into practice resulting in a compilation of tools and good practice examples for HR2WS implementation at the different steps of the WASH project cycle (human rights lens).

AGUASAN Workshop Reports and related products