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Swiss ‘water diplomacy’ rises to African challenge

Switzerland wants to help smooth over difficulties arising from water access in west Africa. Keystone / Anthony Anex

Switzerland has agreed to help prevent disputes between four African countries over access to the important Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin water supply.

This content was published on September 29, 2021 - 19:03
swissinfo.ch/mga

The basin supplies water to some 15 million people in the west African countries of Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.

The four countries signed an agreement in Geneva on Wednesday to cooperate with each other towards the sustainable management and sharing of the water course.

Switzerland has been accepted as a neutral facilitator of this cooperation. In a statement issued on WednesdayExternal link, Switzerland said it has experience in water diplomacy having engineered a 1978 convention with France over the Geneva Aquifer.

“Although the control over water resources is a frequent source of conflict, this vital natural resource can also spur dialogue between states that depend on the same water basin for their supply,” the Swiss government said. “Swiss water diplomacy seeks to transform destructive competition for limited resources of fresh water into constructive collaboration.”

In 2010, Switzerland launched the “Blue Peace” initiative to further this aim.

Water security has become an issue in different parts of the world as growing populations and climate change have a negative effect on access to water.

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