Water Resources

L’Agenzia sta lavorando, tramite l’Ufficio Ambiente e Uso del territorio, a integrare la sostenibilità ambientale nelle iniziative di Cooperazione allo sviluppo a tema acqua nei Paesi Partner e, per fare questo, elabora modalità di attuazione e strumenti specifici per perfezionare al meglio i vari interventi tecnici.

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From Burkina to Kenya, from El Salvador to Mozambique, from Lebanon to Ethiopia and Senegal, up to Pakistan and Vietnam, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation is putting its longstanding know-how of water conservation and management into practice and is opening up a new way of doing Co-operation through the protection of this increasingly precious primary asset.

The subject of water is very complex and has a thousand facets and as many fields of application: in fact, 43.8% of the financial resources disbursed for the implementation of development cooperation initiatives has been invested in projects related to water.

The Agency is working, through the Environment and Land Use Office, to integrate environmental sustainability into the water-themed development co-operation initiatives in the Partner States and, to do this, it is developing implementation methods and specific tools to improve the various technical interventions.

The Agency, in fact, like the international community, has the objective of accessing water resources along three main lines: guaranteeing access to basic sanitation; guaranteeing access to water for human and productive use; and safeguarding water resources for future generations.

The acronym that summarises these three activities is WA.S.H (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene).


In the last fifty years, water availability has decreased by three quarters in Africa and two thirds in Asia. In Africa, the availability of drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services is still far from an acceptable standard, especially in rural areas.

The 2030 Agenda, among its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, calls for “ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all“.

This goal is strongly interlinked with other key development goals such as the fight against poverty and inequality, food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, health and welfare, sustainable urban development, and the management of land and marine resources and ecosystems.

The acronym WA.S.H. Water, Sanitation ed Hygiene stands for everything related to the water supply sector (Water), everything related to the waste water sector, including sanitary facilities (Sanitation), the education sector with reference to common hygiene standards (Hygiene).

The supply of water, referring to drinking water used for drinking, cooking and personal and domestic hygiene, consists of the following stages:

  • collection
  • purification (if any)
  • adduction
  • distribution

Everything related to the wastewater sector, including sanitation. This includes the design, construction and operation of dedicated infrastructure. Sanitation comprises the following stages:

  • construction of sanitary facilities
  • sewage collection
  • wastewater purification
  • reuse (if any)
  • final drainage (generally into a superficial body of water).

The promotion of hygiene is a component of WA.S.H. that has gained increasing importance in recent years due to its proven effectiveness in improving health, particularly in the fight against diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections. It encompasses two dimensions: the set of measures aimed at preventing disease and protecting health, and the complexity of actions aimed at improving behaviour from a hygiene/sanitary perspective.

Some of the most common objectives and activities of hygiene promotion initiatives in schools are:

  • improve knowledge among children of primary school age of the benefits of washing hands with soap before touching food and after defecation;
  • improve knowledge of the correct handwashing technique among children of primary school age;
  • improve awareness of the importance of washing hands with soap before touching/preparing/cooking food and after using sanitary facilities;
  • obtain concrete commitments, in terms of resources, from the local Ministry of Education to support the promotion of handwashing in primary schools.

Transboundary waters

The UN Water Convention (also known as the Helsinki Convention), which Italy ratified on 23 May 1996, promotes co-operation between States for the prevention and control of the pollution of transboundary watercourses and international lakes and for the sustainable use of water resources.

It represents a legally binding instrument and commits the states that have ratified it, to the sustainable management of internationally shared water resources, to conflict prevention, and to the promotion of peace and regional integration with a view to the implementation of sustainable development goals.

In 2003, the UN Water Convention was amended to allow for the accession of States outside the UNECE Region. The amendment entered into force on 6 February 2013, making the Water Convention the legal framework for global transboundary co-operation. Officially, as of 1 March 2016, all UN Member States can accede to the Convention.

The main tool of reference for the implementation of the UN Water Convention is its Programme of Work that is updated every three years and is adopted by the main decision-making body of the UN Water Convention, the Meeting of the Parties (MoP). This Programme of Work is developed and used to address the political and technical challenges of various countries in the management of their transboundary water resources, be they Parties to the Convention (Contracting Parties that have ratified the international treaty), or non-Parties, or simply Signatories to the UN Water Convention.

Last update: 28/03/2024, 15:48