Young People as Agents of Change in the Water Sector

Young people and their innovative ideas play an important role in addressing some of the largest water challenges. SDC supports the Young Water Fellowship Programme that builds the capacities of young water entrepreneurs, provides technical as well as financial support to implement their ideas and engages with stakeholders and decision-makers to exchange knowledge and create an enabling environment for young people willing to be engaged in the water sector.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Water sector policy
Water supply
Education policy
Water sanitation
01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022
CHF  757’580
Background Young people represent around half of the world’s population living mostly in developing countries. Even though they are often the primary victims of the local and global water related challenges, they are not yet an integral part of efforts to develop adequate solutions and are traditionally excluded from decision-making processes.  However, young people have the potential to develop innovative and disruptive solutions to address these challenges.  Thus, involving young people in the water sector, promoting their ideas and creating an enabling policy and business environment for them is vital to achieve universal access to water and sanitation as well as sustainable use and governance of water resources.
Objectives Young people are empowered and largely recognized as agents of change in the water sector, contributing to sustainable water resources management and universal access to safe and affordable water and sanitation services in vulnerable communities.
Target groups The main target groups are:
- young people between 18-30 years old from low and middle-income countries with innovative entrepreneurial  initiatives
- the marginalised and poor in the communities benefit from the improved services provided by the start-ups  
Medium-term outcomes Outcome 1: Young people are attracted to the water sector and effectively offer sustainable solutions to increase access to safe water and sanitation services as well as sustainable water resources management in disadvantaged communities.

Outcome 2: The policy and business environment at various levels enable young people in the water sector to effectively provide solutions to water-related challenges.

Expected results:  

  • Global awareness campaign and call for applications for entrepreneurial water and sanitation initiatives that attracts young people to the water sector;
  • Provision of trainings and capacity building measures for young entrepreneurs in social business, integrated water resources management (IWRM), water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and human rights to water and sanitation;
  • Establishment of a seed-funding mechanism for financing start-ups;
  • Ongoing coaching and mentorship mechanism for young entrepreneurs;
  • Creation of synergies and knowledge exchange with organizations of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and other stakeholders in the water sector;
  • Improved policies and programmes for young people in the water sector;
  • Increased participation of young leadership in decision-making processes.

Results from previous phases:   The analysis of the Global Programme Water’s (GPW) portfolio performed during the opening credit phase shows that the GPW already supports a wide range of education, capacity-building and advocacy initiatives and projects involving and empowering young people. For this reason and as a result of a comprehensive mapping process of existing initiatives, a programme was selected that specifically focuses on attracting young people to the water sector, fostering their innovative capacity and engaging with relevant stakeholders and policy-makers with the aim to enhance an environment that is conducive for young people.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • Foreign private sector North
  • Swiss Private Sector

Other partners
- Young Water Solutions
- Tender or strategic partnership for policy component will be launched in 2019
Coordination with other projects and actors - Actors : Cewas, Global Water Partnership (GWP), International Secretariat for Water (ISW), Water Youth Network, GoodPlanet Belgium, World Water Council Youth Delegates, International Water Association Emerging Leaders, Ashoka, WEF Global Shapers and Waterlution
- Projects : Blue Peace Middle East (cewas Start-Up Programme supported by SDC), Youth for Water & Climate Initiative (GWP, ISW)
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    757’580 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    661’686 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   17’610 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   1’420’000
Project phases Phase 99 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2027   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022   (Current phase)