Management 4 largest Blue Deal partnerships exchanges knowledge

On September 7, the Dutch management of the 4 largest Blue Deal partnerships came together in the Dutch province Fryslân for a meeting. The objective for this gathering was: how can we learn from each other about managing large partnerships?

The meeting was amongst the partnerships of Mozambique, Colombia, Eswatini and South Africa. The managers were invited to Friesland, at the invitation of the partnership manager of Mozambique, of which Wetterskip Fryslân (the Dutch water authority in the area of Fryslân) is the lead partner. This was the third time that the major partnerships organized such a consultation. This time was extra special, thanks to a boat trip through the beautiful Alde Feanen nature reserve.

Topics to discuss

The colleagues exchanged, for example, their experiences with working with a so-called ‘talking sheet’. This sheets makes it visible which Blue Deal topics the partnership is working on, and where there are topics that still need to be addressed. “It helps to establish a relationship of the concrete activities which are implemented with the longer-term goals,” says one of the participants. “Large partnerships deal with many people and interests. Visualising this helps to get an overview of how all our activities contribute to our larger goals, and what we should continue or stop.”

The participants also discussed, among other things, their annual plans for 2024, presented to each other how they have organised their partnerships and discussed decentralization in one of the partner countries. They also covered the safety assessments of work visits, finances, accountability, and much more.

Learning from each other

An important part of the Blue Deal is learning from each other. Therefore, the Blue Deal learning programme also includes a training for new partnership managers. Thanks to this joint intervision of the partnership managers, the 4 largest partnerships are now going one step further to exchange knowledge with each other.

Blue Deal president visits Mozambique

At the beginning of October, a delegation from the Dutch water authority Wetterskip Fryslân traveled to Mozambique to visit the Blue Deal partnership there.

A visit to the mayor of Beira

Luzette Kroon was one of the members of this delegation. Kroon is board member International Affairs at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. She is also president of the Blue Deal.

Since 2019, 6 Dutch water authorities have been working on strengthening the 3 ARAs (water authorities in Mozambique) and the sanitation/drainage department SASB of the port city of Beira. They do this to improve the financial management and operational water management of these organizations in the areas of safe, clean and sufficient water. Cross-cutting themes such as nature conservation, biodiversity, social inclusion and climate change play an important role in this. The second phase of this collaboration will start in 2023. This will last until 2030.

Enriching experience

“During my visit to Mozambique, where Wetterskip Fryslân is the lead party for the Blue Deal partnership, I gained an experience that was enormously enriching,” Kroon explains. “Going on site has given me a much clearer picture of the scope of the activities and the commitment required to realize them.”

She continues: “In addition, the attention from board members helps our employees to get in touch with members of the governments in the country more easily. I am struck by the great enthusiasm of the Mozambicans to start the work themselves. At the same time, I have found that we can also learn a lot from our Blue Deal partnerships when it comes to dealing with drought.”

3 countries meet for regional knowledge exchange

The water challenges in Southern Africa are immense. Floodings, droughts; water and climate related disasters always seem to be just around the corner. On November 25, the Blue Deal partnerships of eSwatini, Mozambique and South Africa joined forces in the first joint regional Blue Deal exchange meeting in Johannesburg. Here they discussed the issues regarding data management of water data.

Similar challenges

The 3 countries face similar challenges: how to ensure financial stability? How can data sharing within and between countries be improved? And many technical hurdles, for example how to integrate the now often still separate data systems? As Ntombikayise Dhladhla, participant of the Blue Deal Young Expert Programme, explained: “In eSwatini, the main issues are reliability of the data, which leads to limited data sharing. We are working in silos.”

Lessons learnt

During the day the Blue Deal teams of the 3 countries looked back on Phase 1 of the Blue Deal. Experiences and lessons learnt were shared. Looking to the future, people shared their ideas on which topics the partnerships can work together. Ideas included working together on a central database, organizing shared lab facilities and connecting existing databases.

Different perspectives

Ambassador Han Peters mentioned the importance of long-term equal partnerships, which are the basis for the Blue Deal: “No one country can solve the problems of today on their own. You need different perspectives, you need people from different backgrounds if you want to get to the greatest solutions.” And with this first regional meeting of 3 Blue Deal partnerships, a strong start has been made.

Water evaluation and planning in Mozambique

Water is scarce in Africa. Yet, the people living in the African Republic of Mozambique use it in abundance and often without paying any taxes. As part of the Blue Deal, Dutch Water Authorities is helping the ARA-Sul water authority in southern Mozambique to identify the effects of people's water consumption and to improve the process of levying charges. ARA-Sul itself has launched a radio and tv campaign to call on residents to register.

Climate change represents a huge challenge for water managers everywhere. The numbers of floods, droughts and a lack of clean water are increasing and there’s a growing need for knowledge and expertise on water management. The goal of the Blue Deal programme is to help 20 million people around to world to gain access to clean, sufficient and safe water. To that end, Dutch Water Authorities forms international alliances with local water authorities elsewhere.

6 years of drought

In all, there are 17 partnerships in 15 countries, of which the Mozambique partnership is the most extensive one. It has resulted in pilot projects that aim to improve flood forecasting, water quality, distribution of available water and operational plans. “A better distribution of the available water is key,” says Martin Bos, Programme Director of the Dutch water authority Wetterskip Fryslân. “The most recent drought in the country lasted for 6 years.”

Shortage of water is a common occurrence, adds Lizete Diaz, Head of Water Resources Services at the ARA-Sul water authority in southern Mozambique. “Take the reservoir behind the Pequenos Libombos dam, for example. It’s supposed to hold a supply of water that lasts the region for 3 years. But in 2020 there was only 20 per cent of that normal supply left. Fortunately, things have improved since then. But we need to manage and monitor our water resources better.”


The introduction of WEAP (a model for Water Evaluation and Planning) has helped ARA-Sul with this. “Not only does WEAP establish different scenarios for the effects of water usage and climate change,” Bos explains. “It makes clear how ARA-Sul can best deal with them as well.” Diaz adds: “It helps us understand how much water we have. And just as important, how we can best distribute it.”

In Mozambique surface water is mainly used for agricultural and industrial purposes, groundwater for drinking. “WEAP only applies to surface water,” Diaz goes on. “There is another model for groundwater. Currently, we’re running a pilot in Maputo, so that we understand how much groundwater is available for consumption.”


As in many countries, water management is costly in Mozambique. “But unfortunately, it’s not easy to levy taxes,” Diaz says. “That’s why we help ARA-Sul to improve the levying process,” Bos adds. “If a farm is using water for irrigation, for example, or an industrial company is polluting one of the rivers, we’ll try to make them foot the bill.”

The partnership is also helping to determine the appropriate rates and develop an administration system for creating and sending invoices. But the problem is: ARA-Sul has nowhere to send them to, since many consumers have failed to register. Diaz: “We’ve started a campaign on radio and television asking people to make themselves known. It has been quite a success. In the first 3 months, there were hundreds of new registrations.”

If residents refuse to register, at some point they will be fined, Diaz says. “But not just yet. I have faith in people. Let’s wait and see how our campaign plays out.”

Text: Pieter Verbeek

Celebrating 10 years of cross-border cooperation in southern Africa

Regional water managers in the Netherlands, Germany, eSwatini, Mozambique and South Africa have been sharing experiences for ten years now. What binds them is how you work together in border regions.

From 17-19 November, the lustrum took place at the River and Environmental Management Cooperation in South Africa. Problems such as drought, flooding, climate change and women empowerment were discussed. The Deputy Minister of South Africa endorsed the importance of seeking solutions in the Blue Deal partnerships.

Blended learning in Mozambique

With the help of Skill_Ed and Stichting Wateropleidingen, the Mozambica partnership developed an educational plan last March to train people through Blended Learning.

This is a combination of offline and online learning. At the moment, the finishing touches are being made to fill the e-learning app with didactic material such as photos and short videos.

Lecture: solutions for complex water problems

The KIWI learning programme recently organised a lecture by professor Guy Alaerts about the unruly nature of international water management and solutions for complex water problems.

Water managers worldwide are looking for integrated solutions for complex water problems. Major investments are often required to become climate proof, but finding financing is difficult. Water managers and financial institutions do not know where to find each other and converting globally available financing into concrete projects on a large scale is difficult. Watch the lecture below. The lecture is in Dutch, but can be viewed with subtitles.

Study: water management knowledge exchange

TU Delft and Erasmus University, in collaboration with Dutch Water Authorities, have launched a study into water management knowledge exchange. The universities are investigating which lessons the Dutch regional water authorities take abroad.

Meeting room with people seated at tables for a traning session. One man is stood, giving a presentation.
Dutch Water Authorities and local partners attending a training session.

As part of the study into water management knowledge exchange university researchers are looking at the lessons learned at an individual level, group level and organisational level. The aim is to find out exactly what effect these lessons have on organisations.


A questionnaire is sent out via the Dutch Water Authorities foreign coordinators. It is hoped that insight can be gained into the possibilities and limiting factors of international knowledge sharing.

More on Dutch Water Authorities and knowledge exchange

Blue Deal Annual plan 2021

The 2021 annual plan of the Blue Deal programme has been approved by the steering committee. The partnerships will continue their work in 2021 to improve water management in 14 countries.

Two men inspecting a waste water treatment plant.

The focus of the Blue Deal Annual plan 2021 is on three crucial elements: sufficient knowledge and skills, a well-functioning organisation and collaboration with key stakeholders.

Online learning

As COVID-19 continues into 2021, the Blue Deal partnerships focus on online learning and training in the first six months. This is not easy in all countries, for example due to slow internet connections or recently initiated partnerships. Therefore, the partnerships also focus on additional local representation. Dutch Water Authorities hopes to physically meet its partners again in the second half of 2021.

More on the Blue Deal