SWITCH Project

The SWITCH project, sponsored by the European Union, is oriented towards the effective and sustainable development of water management in urban areas. It is focused on “the city of the future”, with a projection of between 30 and 50 years out. SWITCH began activities in February, 2006, with the leadership of UNESCO – IHE, based in Delft, Netherlands. Thirty four institutions for different countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America participate in this Project.

The SWITCH Project considers changing the paradigm of water management in urban areas, including topics related to: urban drainage, water supply, multiple uses of water, rational usage of water, sanitation, domestic and industrial waste water management, urban cycle of water, planning, governability, and institutional aspects.  The Project includes research, training and demonstration activities.

Among the activities, are also Learning Alliances, through which a group of people sharing a problem and the desire to solve it, may develop common objectives and the required environment for mutual interaction between the stakeholders. It is expected to consolidate Learning Alliances that allow the integration around the SWITCH Project, of persons and institutions related with water management in Cali.

Cali, a demo city for the Project

The city of Cali started its activities in the SWITCH Project in 2007, with the participation of institutions such as EMCALI, CVC, DAGMA, EMSIRVA, the municipality of Cali, the Government of Valle del Cauca, research groups from universities and representatives of communities and local NGO’s. As a result of this teamwork, three workshops and the diagnosis of water management in the city of Cali were developed. These activities were coordinated by the Cinara Institute of Universidad del Valle, with the support of UNESCO – IHE and IRC of the Netherlands. Three key topics to be developed with the Learning Alliances were identified, as follows:

  1. Water quality in the Cauca River and its impact on the supply system of Cali.
  2. The South drainage system of Cali.
  3. Possibility of changing the paradigm of water and sanitation services in the future expansion area South of Cali.

Positive results and the commitment of the different institutions have been valued by the management group of the Project and motivated them to include Cali as a Demo City starting in the year 2008. Other demo cities in the world are: Accra, Alexandria, Beijing, Belo Horizonte, Birmingham, Hamburg, Lodz, Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Zaragoza.