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 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 Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).

Besides quarterly knowledge exchange events, members of AGUASAN, under the lead of Skat, have also organized 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. The events 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 and sanitation issues in developing and transition countries. The year 2015 saw the 31st consecutive workshop in what has become a widely renowned and respected series of innovative events generating highly relevant sector knowledge.

Project facts



Project Period:

1984 till 2015 (yearly mandates)

Name of Staff involved and functions performed:

Project Manager (workshop lead): Roger Schmid

Project Officers (reporting): André Olschewski, Florian Klingel, Anne Sophie Aublet, Sanjay Gupta, etc.

Project Assistants (organisation): Norolalao Robson, etc.

Description of the Project

AGUASAN workshops undergo an annual cycle of preparation, organisation, realisation and assessment overlooked by the steering committee. Every year the team works with a facilitator to choose a “hot” topic and to carefully prepare the event. Due to the nature and purpose of the event, the committee just defines the “playground” for 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 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.

Recent AGUASAN workshop topics include Caring & Integrated Management, Private Sector Participation, Household-Centred Approach, Opportunities & Challenges in a Decentralised Context and the impact of Personal Paradigms. The workshop 2010 dealt with the topic of “Large Scaling-Up”, answering how to effectively influence large water sector investments so that they contribute to the scaling up of successful piloted service delivery models and established good practices. The 2011 workshop addressed the implications and actions needed to put the human rights to water and sanitation into practice. In its most recent editions, the AGUASAN workshop tackled in 2014 the question of “How to bridge the water, food and energy sector divides for increased benefits and resilience in watersheds?”, whereas in 2015 “Disaster Risk Reduction in WASH” was addressed.

The Report on Effectiveness (SDC/SECO, 2008) concluded that the “Swiss experts are continuously kept updated through AGUASAN, which is considered the professional body on questions regarding water and development in Switzerland and represents an effective knowledge community”. Even more approachable and self-speaking about the impact and outreach of AGUASAN is the fact, that the workshops constantly trigger an overwhelming interest for participation among sector professionals (in Switzerland and aboard) and among SDC operational units.

“When you sit together with people that you trust, you know that the new knowledge that you receive is of high quality and is validated. You can find in the internet everything, however in AGUASAN meetings and workshops you can be sure that the information you have has empirical evidence” (Interview 2009)

Knowledge Management for Development Journal, Vol. 5, No. 3, December 2009, 263-271

AGUASAN documents

AGUASAN Publications
Water Challanges beyond WASH pdf-eng-2014
Financial Sustainability of WASH Servicespdf-eng-2012
Better solutions through new ways of thinkingpdf-eng-2001
Urban Sanitation in developing countries- three conceptual toolspdf-eng-1995
Water and Sanitation Knowledge Systempdf-eng-1992
AGUASAN: Learnings from a remarkable Community of Practicepdf-eng
Voices about AGUASAN (2016)pdf-eng
Contributions of knowledge networks and CoPs to the water and sanitation sector in developing countries (2009)pdf-eng
AguaSan Workshop Reports
No.AGUASAN Workshop Reports 1984-2015
Overview Aguasan Workshop Topics 1984-2015pdf-eng
31Workshop Report 2015: Disaster Risk Reduction in WASH – Towards Resilience and Adaptive Management in the Water Sectorpdf-eng
30Workshop Report 2014: Water Challenges Beyond WASH – Bridging the Water, Food and Energy Sector Divides:pdf-eng
29Workshop Report 2013: Meeting the Challenge of WASH in Health Facilities:pdf-eng
28Workshop Report 2012: Financial Sustainability of WASH Services:pdf-eng
27Workshop Report 2011: Water and Sanitation are Human Rights – So What?pdf-eng
26Workshop Report 2010: From “Haute Cuisine” to “Good Fast Food”:pdf-eng
25Workshop Report 2009: The WatSan Contiguum:pdf-eng
24Workshop Report 2008: Community Management Enough to Sustain the MDG Efforts?pdf-eng
23Workshop Report 2007: Opportunities and Challenges for the Water and Sanitation Sector in a Decentralised Contextpdf-eng
22Workshop Report 2006: More Benefits for Households from Water and Sanitation through Intersectoral Synergies:pdf-eng
21Workshop Report 2005: Caring and Integrated Management for Sustained Water and Sanitation Servicespdf-eng
20Workshop Report 2004: Sustainable Services Without External Support – Still a Challenge!pdf-eng
19Workshop Report 2003: This Shit Drama – are there Ways Out?pdf-eng
18Workshop Report 2002: Profits for All – Service for Allpdf-eng
17Workshop Report 2001: From Sector Reform to Sector Revolution:pdf-eng
16Workshop Report 2000: HCA – the Household-Centred Approach:pdf-eng
15Workshop Report 1999: Private Sector – Just a (new) Hope?pdf-eng
14Workshop Report 1998: Technology and Balanced Development:pdf-eng
13Workshop Report 1997: Less Water for More People:pdf-eng
12Workshop Report 1996: Transfer of Ownership in Water Supply and Sanitation Systemspdf-eng
11Workshop Report 1995: Urban Sanitationpdf-eng
10Workshop Report 1994: Sustainable Water and Sanitation Projects through Fair Negotiations:pdf-de
9Workshop Report 1993: Water is Not a Free Resource (anymore) – Who Pays?pdf-de
8Workshop Report 1992: Water and Sanitation Knowledge System:pdf-de
7Workshop Report 1991: Communication in Development Cooperation:pdf-de
6Workshop Report 1990: Sustainability of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Projectspdf-de
5Workshop Report 1989: Monitoring and Evaluation in Drinking Water and Sanitation Projects.pdf-de
4Workshop Report 1988: Operation and Maintenance: Activities and goals relevant for maintaining of village supply systems and latrinespdf-de
3Workshop Report 1987: Sanitation and Healthpdf-de
2Workshop Report 1986: Participation and Animationpdf-de
0Workshop Report 1984: Appropriate Technologies in Water Supply and Sanitationpdf-de