In May the first visit of the Blue Deal Dji Don Mali team in 2 years was realised. The Dutch Embassy Bamako also joined the opening of the visit to local partner Agence National de Gestion des Stations d'Epuration du Mali (ANGESEM).
The team covered key themes including safety at work, maintenance plans and Phase 2 priorities based on the SWOT analysis conducted by Blue Deal. This enables the programme to identify where the Blue Deal will focus to contribute to improving wastewater quantity and quality management.
The mission solidified the partnership commitments of working together and there was a strong team spirit throughout the week.
From April 16 until April 30 a team from Dutch Water Authorities visited Peru for the Blue Deal. This was the second work visit since the corona pandemic.
The team spoke with its local partners, the water boards of Piura and Tumbes. Together they analysed the progress of their collaboration. The team also looked into the challenges of water scarcity and the distribution of the available water and where extra support from Dutch experts is needed. Another topic was the planning for the rest of the year and the second phase of the Blue Deal programme, which will last from 2023 until 2030.
Water scarcity and flooding
The work visit therefore consisted of a lot of meetings and discussions, for example with the National Water Authority and with users of the water and stakeholders. Field visits to several sites provided insight into the local situation. In both Piura and Tumbes the problem is pretty much identical: water scarcity during part of the year and danger of flooding during the rainy season. The work visit also showed that the quality of the surface water needs to be improved through waste water treatment plants.
The work visit strengthened the bonds between Dutch Water Authorities and the local partners and the perspectives for future collaboration have been broadened. The partnership aims to send in Dutch experts to Peru for several times in the coming years to establish a strong work relationship that helps to improve the water management in Peru. In between these work visits there will also be online meetings to exchange knowledge.
In November 2021 the Dutch team was finally able to meet their colleagues from the Blue Deal partnership in South Africa again. They visited the Crocodile River Project. The project is now ready to start again.
Because of COVID-19 the project collaboration went on only via digital meetings. And few will deny, this was sometimes quite a challenge. Due to this, the project came to a halt. Fortunately, in November 2021 it was possible for the team to meet each other live again, which was very inspiring. Now the project is back on track.
Buhle Shongwe, technician Water Demand & Conservation: “We want to grab each and every opportunity, so we’re excited to be working once again with you.”
A delegation of Colombian directors from the water sector visited the Netherlands from May 8 until May 15. The visit was part of the Blue Deal program InspirAgua.
Within InspirAgua Dutch water authorities are working together with their Colombian partners. They do this through inspiration and sharing knowledge and experiences with each other, for example on the issue of participative monitoring. This cooperation ensures a further professionalization of water management in both the Netherlands and Colombia. The main goal: better water management and cleaner water for millions of people in Colombia by 2030.
The visit of Colombian directors from the water sector to the Netherlands underlines the good cooperation within InspirAgua. The delegation was introduced to tasks in water management in the Netherlands. Including water storage, room for the river and the restoration of ecological values. In addition, the directors spoke to representatives of Dutch Water Authorities, various ministries and the Colombian embassy in the Netherlands.
Mutual learning and inspiration
Erik de Ridder, highest board member of the water authority De Dommel and administratively responsible for the InspirAgua programme, is pleased with the visit: “It is important and good to welcome a large delegation of Colombian directors involved in InspirAgua to the Netherlands. In this way they gain even better insight into the work we do within the program. We learn from them and they learn from us. That works best if you can view the assignments together on location. The visit is a confirmation of the constructive and fruitful cooperation between Colombia and the Netherlands and is a good basis for the follow-up.”
Creating joint added value
Luzette Kroon, board member of Dutch Water Authorities and administratively responsible for the Blue Deal, clearly sees the added value of the collaboration within InspirAgua: “We have to adapt spatial planning in the Netherlands to climate change. We can learn a lot from the way Colombia really does that together with its inhabitants.”
From 28th November to 2nd December, the Malian waste water operator (ANGESEM) visited the Burkinabe operator (ONEA) in Burkina Faso. During the working visit the partners exchanged challenges, approaches and opportunities for collaboration.
To develop ANGESEM’s knowledge of wastewater valorisation, the partners visited utility and household scale biodigesters to understand the transformation process. Read more here.
The suffocating water hyacinth is a threat to water quality and biodiversity in South Africa. Together with the residents of Blesbokspruit, South Africa, the Blue Deal partners turned this threat into a business opportunity.
Residents weave beautiful baskets, lampshades and even armchairs from the dried plants and sell them. Watch how they do this in this short video.
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.
At the end of November 2021, the Dutch water experts from Dutch Water Authorities paid a visit to their Blue Deal partner in Ghana. During the multi-day working visit, the Dutch Delta Programme was on the agenda as a source of inspiration for Ghana.
The Ghanaian partners are looking for more structure, more integrality, better frameworks and better long-term solutions. The Delta Programme offers a long-term vision and scenario planning for climate change and socio-economic growth. The Blue Deal partners are exploring what a similar approach could mean for Ghana and how it could be linked to the Inegrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan.
The partners also paid a working visit to the north of Ghana to improve the water management of the Vea Dam and the Tono Dam. Because sand washes back into the waterways and reservoirs, the water and soil quality worsens. Because the water is not clean, residents are forced to get their water elsewhere. The partners are therefore committed to improving the water quality and the quality of life for residents, among other things.
After five years of hard work, the Blue Deal partners in eSwatini launched an umbrella organisation for water authorities on 10th November with a festive African ceremony.
Among others, Peter Bhembe, Minister of Natural Resources & Energy and ambassador of the Blue Deal was present. Prior to his speech, the minister noted that water is a women’s issue in Africa. He was referring to adding more women to the boards of water authorities and to the fact that it is women who fetch water.
During work visits in September, October and November the Dutch water authorities visited their Blue Deal-partnership in Colombia for the first time in 1,5 year. This provided new energy and a boost to the program. "Digital working is so much different from working together and figuring out where the real problems lie and what it takes to solve them."
InspirAgua is the name of the Blue Deal-program in Colombia. In this partnership Dutch and Colombian water professionals share their knowledge and experience, to inspire each other. InspirAgua focuses on the every day work, to help people and organizations to work together with the right tools.
The necessity of physical meetings
The latest work visit before the corona crisis took place in March 2020. After that, the program continued digitally, but not with the same results as through physical meetings. Ellen Bollen-Weide, the Dutch program manager of InspirAgua: “Technically we could keep working during the corona period. However, we noticed that it was mainly sending information. And that’s a lot different from working together and figuring out where the real problems lie and what it takes to solve them.”
April this year it became clear that it was very difficult to achieve results by working from a distance. That’s why work visits were planned as soon as corona measures permitted them.
The Dutch water authorities visited their partners in Valle del Cauca, Caldas, Santander and Huila. They talked about the annual plan for 2022 and made the plans concrete. They also discussed the agenda for 2022 with all partners involved. Contacts were reinforced and all partners are still very positive about the cooperation.
During these last visits we’ve had some successes in the projects. In Valle del Cauca a new cooperation agreement was drawn up. In Santander big steps were made on topics such as participative monitoring and stakeholder analysis. In Huila the work plan for 2022 was finalized for support of the operational management and maintenance of smaller sewage treatment plants. And in Caldas we’ve talked about a cooperation agreement to support the construction of a sewage treatment plant for the southern part of Manizales (about 250.000 residents).
Let’s go (again)!
Program manager Bollen-Weide: “This past period we’ve set up technical committees, that were eager to start. That’s something we did achieve by continuing our work digitally: our contacts have been maintained and we were able to make a flying start, now that we can really start working together again.”