Blue Deal Ghana: successfully connecting water to other relevant themes

In March, the Blue Deal Ghana team went on a work visit for 2 weeks to meet with many new stakeholders outside the water sector. By meeting stakeholders outside the water sector, the Blue Deal Ghana is trying to get water challenges higher on the political agenda.

The goal of these meetings is to work together with other partners, besides the Water Resources Commission (WRC), and to connect the water themes to other relevant themes. In this way, the water challenges will come higher on the political agenda. The project team met with partners such as the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI), the Hydrological Authority (HYDRO), the Ministry of Works and Housing (MWH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Regional: bottom-up

During the visit in March, the project team started with the implementation of the Area Oriented Approach in the Songor Lagoon in the south of Ghana. An Integrated Water Resources Management plan for the Lower Volta Basin is almost completed by the WRC and the area of the Songor Lagoon is selected as a pilot area to start the implementation of the overall plan. A big challenge in this area is mangrove depletion.

However, the area faces many more water related challenges. For this reason the Ghanaian and Dutch team shared knowledge on conducting an Area Oriented Approach and guided in the process of starting it. During a workshop with around 45 stakeholders from the area (such as representatives of the communities, the Forestry Commission and NGO’s) different cohesive issues were brought up and concrete actions to solve these issues were identified. In this way the pilot project will have a more multidisciplinary and holistic approach. The water challenges in the Songor area are now brought bottom-up to the political agenda of the WRC.

Next to this, the Blue Deal met with the governor of the Upper East Region to talk about the water related challenges in the area. The main outcome is that water themes will be scheduled during regional meetings with for example District Assemblies, chiefs and subbasin committees.


To get the water challenges higher on the political national agenda the project team met with many new stakeholders during the work visit. The goal is to work together with other national partners, and with the WRC, to connect the water themes to other relevant themes. The Delta programme that we have in the Netherlands is of great interest for Ghana, since the country faces many challenges in the Lower Volta Delta and along the whole coast. Therefore, the Blue Deal team endorses to set up a Delta programme. For this reason the team met with MESTI, WRC, HYDRO, MWH and EPA to assess the challenges in the Delta and strengthen the cooperation in the future.

Next to this, the Blue Deal team had several meetings with the Netherlands Commission of Environmental Assessment (NCEA). They came with the Blue Deal team to Ghana to address their work on a national level and start the cooperation in current and new programmes, policies and plans (such as land use plans or water catchment plans). Their aim is to ensure that the environmental and social consequences of proposed activities are incorporated into decision making, through an inclusive process. Together with the Blue Deal team the NCEA met with the EPA.

The connection of the EPA and the Blue Deal team secures the holistic approach of water resources management within the work of the EPA. In the near future the NCEA will provide independent advice through Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) for the catchment plans of the WRC and will provide guidelines and training to work on capacity development of SEA with the WRC, EPA and other involved stakeholders.

Another example of making sure water challenges are of more importance on a national level, the Dutch team assesses climate issues like reforestation. In the Bongo District a successful reforestation project is already set-up. In this way the Blue Deal becomes more relevant to the Dutch Embassy, which for their part have influence on a national level.

Transboundary cooperation

Ghana faces many water related challenges that they can not solve all by themselves. Therefore, the cooperation of Ghanaian and Dutch water partners also supports to look on a transboundary governance level for cooperation and effective solutions. Such as the sand motor that is now set-up in Benin to protect the coast from further erosion. In the next few months a broad delegation of the Ghanian partners will visit this project to explore the options for their own coastal protection. Small scale cooperation between the partners along sub catchments that are part of as well Burkina Faso as Ghana should also gain more attention in the Area Oriented Approach of the Blue Deal programme in the Upper East Region.

Blue Deal present at UN Water Conference

From 22 to 24 March 2023, the United Nations Water Conference will take place in New York. Luzette Kroon, board member of the Association of Dutch Water Authorities, is there to represent Dutch Water Authorities and the Blue Deal, the international programme of Dutch Water Authorities.

The UN Water Conference is organized by the Netherlands and Tajikistan. It is the first United Nations conference on water in nearly 50 years. Kroon: “Many of the consequences of climate change have to do with water. It is too wet, too dry, the sea level is rising. The UN Conference is a key moment to reflect on the importance of water management worldwide.”

New York Water Week

In addition to the UN Water Conference, the Water Week will take place in New York from 18 to 24 March. This is an addition to the UN Water Conference.

Multiple sessions

Dutch Water Authorities and the Blue Deal organize various sessions during the UN Water Conference and the New York Water Week. Kroon: “During these sessions, we want to draw the attention of major financial players, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to the importance of management and maintenance. They mainly focus on investments, for example on the construction of a water treatment plant or a dike. The management and maintenance is financed, but only for a short period. After that period, the investments sometimes fall into disrepair because management and maintenance cease. We call that ‘design, build and neglect’. We would like to replace ‘neglect’ with ‘maintenance’. We want to get a place on the Water Action Agenda for this.”

Why a water conference?

Kroon: “Water managers play a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are the 17 goals of the United Nations to make the world a better place by 2030.” And it’s not just about SDG6, which is specifically aimed at water. Water also plays an important role in achieving the other SDGs. “Water is a basic necessity of life. It is necessary for people’s well-being, safe living, cooling during heat stress, industry and world food production. We will not achieve the SDGs without water managers.”

Dutch Water Authorities: why cooperate internationally?

Through international cooperation, the 21 water authorities in the Netherlands exchange valuable expertise on water management and tackling problems resulting from climate change. For example, about how other countries deal with drought, a problem that the Netherlands is increasingly confronted with. Or how experiences of foreign partners with extreme rainfall can be applied to Dutch water management. Cooperation with water management organizations in other countries leads to a mutual exchange of valuable new ideas.

Blue Deal as an example

Kroon: “It is the intention that parties from all sectors pledge actions for the Water Action Agenda to contribute to the SDGs. We have already made a commitment for this action agenda in June 2022, namely doubling the money for the Blue Deal. We want to put the Blue Deal in the spotlight during the conference. As an example for world leaders and other organisations of a successful collaboration to spread water knowledge.”

Blue Deal Colombia ‘InspirAgua’ signs new cooperation agreements

On March 9, Marit Borst, director of the Dutch water authority De Dommel, signed cooperation agreements until 2030 with Colombian partner authorities of InspirAgua, the Colombian Blue Deal programme. With these agreements the cooperation between Colombian and Dutch water professionals will be continued for Phase 2 of the Blue Deal.

Since 2018, InspirAgua is active in 5 regions within Colombia. We work on topics such as participatory monitoring, waste water treatment, crisis management, improving water quality and licenses and control. In Colombia, Dutch professionals share knowledge and experience. At the same time, Colombian colleagues bring in more information about coping with drought, flash floods and extreme precipitation.

Results Phase 1

During Phase 1 of the programme, the main focus was to establish a strong relationship based on trust and experience. It brought multiple results, for example in the regions Santander, Caldas and Huila. In Santander, local people were stimulated to collect data about the quality of water to improve decision making on a higher level. In Caldas, we are currently improving the water quality of the Río Chinchiná by reducing the discharge of waste water, without using a sewer system. And in Huila we are helping to organize crisis management, to act more precisely during crisis situations.

Ready for Phase 2

For the next years the work within InspirAgua will keep following the topics that were defined earlier. And as in line with the goals of the Blue Deal, in Phase 2 the focus will also be on bringing knowledge from Colombia to the Netherlands. With the new agreements with our partners, and even a signing with a new partner, InspirAgua is ready for the next years. Agreements were signed with: CAM, Aguas del Huila, CAS, CDMB, Department of Santander, CVC, Acuavalle, Corpocaldas, Empocaldas, Aguas de Manizales, ASOCARS and Andesco. Cormagdalena follows soon.

Official start of Blue Deal Phase 2 in Burkina Faso

21 February was an important day for the Blue Deal in Burkina Faso. All the partners of the Blue Deal partnership were present to reflect on Phase 1 of the Blue Deal and to celebrate and sign for the start of Phase 2.

Signing of Phase 2

The partners of the Blue Deal include representatives from the 5 Burkinabe Water Agencies, the CLEs, the SP-GIRE (the Ministry of Water), OIEau, Eau Vive international, SNV, Unité de Gestion Project GIRE, the Embassy of the Netherlands and Dutch Water Authorities.

Within this Blue Deal partnership, the focus is on Integrated Water Resource Management and building capacity for performance improvement. 5 Burkinabe Water Agencies and several Local Water Committees are working closely together with the Dutch water authorities World Waternet/AGV, Hunze en Aa’s, Noorderzijlvest and Drents Overijsselse Delta.

Important landmark for cooperation

The celebration and signing of the Blue Deal Phase 2 is an important landmark for the cooperation between the 2 countries.

Le Secrétaire Permanent Moustapha Congo from the SP-GIRE (the Ministry of Water) emphasized in his opening speech: “We really appreciate that the cooperation and the working visits from Dutch Water Authorities to Burkina Faso are going ahead, despite the situation our country is currently facing. We already have a long history together and the renewal of the commitment between our countries is again for a long period of time.”

President of the Dutch water authority Hunze en Aa’s Geert-Jan ten Brink: “This partnership is important for both our countries. It is the way to exchange knowledge on water management issues. We all have to deal with the impacts of climate change. Climate change means that the Netherlands will increasingly be confronted with extreme weather events, like drought. Burkina Faso is the expert in this field. The way Burkina Faso deals with these challenges is a huge inspiration to us.”

And that’s what makes this collaboration between the 2 countries so unique: the one deals with too much water, the other with too little. Due to climate change, both the Netherlands and Burkina Faso need to work together to get ready for the future.

South African superintendents visit the Netherlands

Several superintendents from waste water treatment plants in South Africa recently visited the Netherlands as part of the Blue Deal partnership. Their goal was to gain insights into advancements in waste water treatment and to share their experiences with their Dutch colleagues.

The visited several waste water treatment plants and had the opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices with their Dutch counterparts, focusing on the effective management of assets and sludge handling. Although the temperature during their entire stay was shockingly low (below 0 degrees Celsius), the South-African superintendents thoroughly appreciated the visit and learned a lot.

Valuable experience for the future of waste water treatment

The trip to the Netherlands proved to be a valuable experience for the superintendents. Not only did they gain knowledge about the latest advancements in waste water treatment, asset management and sludge handling. They also had the chance to bond with their colleagues and explore the country. This visit will go a long way in improving their work and shaping the future of waste water treatment.

Panel for Romanian and Dutch water management is buzzing

On 1 and 2 February, the ninth Romanian-Dutch water management panel took place in the Netherlands. This was the first time since the start of the corona crisis.

A group of people is standing next to a dam in Romania, with mountains in the background.
A dam in Romania

The panel is intended to bring about knowledge transferring between the Romanian and Dutch water sectors. The basis is the Memorandum of Agreement between National Administration Romanian Waters (NARW) and Dutch Water Authorities (DWA).

Blue Deal Day

On 1 February, the panel was a guest at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. Under the chairmanship of Luzette Kroon, board member International Affairs at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities, the focus of this day was on the Blue Deal projects in Romania. These projects improve water management in Romania for the challenges with drought, flooding and reservoir management.

The purpose of this day was a peer-to-peer review. For further development of the NARW/DWA partnership, explicit attention was also paid to: best practices in other Blue Deal partnerships, the possibilities of the Blue Deal congress that will be organized for all partnerships in June, the Communities of practices, and the training programme for employees of the Dutch water authorities who want to work internationally.

Day 2

The Dutch embassy in Bucharest organized a varied programme on 2 February in collaboration with Netherlands Enterprise Agency (in Dutch: RVO) and Rijkswaterstaat (the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management). In the morning, the panel was a guest at RVO to get acquainted with companies and institutions from the Dutch water sector. In the afternoon, Rijkswaterstaat hosted a visit to the Maeslantkering, a storm surge barrier. In addition to a guided tour, Rijkswaterstaat also gave presentations on public-private partnership and tenders.

All in all, a water management panel with a rich harvest in which a lot of knowledge has been exchanged, new ideas for cooperation have arisen and mutual ties have been strengthened. A tenth panel will take place in Romania in 2024.

Members of the Romanian-Dutch water management panel

Burkina Faso and the Netherlands learn from each other

In the week of January 16, a delegation of 3 people from the Blue Deal partnership in Burkina Faso visited the Netherlands for a 1-week work visit. The delegation was welcomed and hosted by the consortium partners water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta, water authority Hunze en Aa’s and World Waternet (water authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht).

The visitors were Ghislain Kabore, national coordinator of Faso Koom, Adissa Compaore, administrator of Faso Koom, and Lacina Bakouan. environmental manager and sociologist. They work in the Faso Koom programme, part of the Blue Deal programme, where 5 Burkinabe water authorities and 4 Dutch water authorities are working together on improved water management.

Programme of the visit

The focus of the visit was to align all the activities within Faso Koom. In-depth sessions with colleagues from the consortium were held about stakeholder/conflict management, finance, climate change adaptation and monitoring. Also meetings with different board members were part of the programme. There was also time for some field visits to get a better understanding of the Dutch context and Dutch water challenges. The delegation visited polders around Amsterdam and Zwolle, went to Eems and Groningen and got the opportunity to visit a greenhouse as well.

Dealing with drought

The effective cooperation between the Burkinabe and the Dutch partners offers many opportunities for the Netherlands as well. The Netherlands is increasingly experiencing periods of droughts. Burkina Faso is an expert in this field, because it had to cope with droughts for decades already. The country learnt to deal with droughts by various nature-based solutions, like reforestation and stone bunds.

Adapting to climate change and coping with droughts is something The Netherlands really has to learn. Water management has always been dominated by discharging water. Now the Netherlands must learn how to retain water. For this, the Dutch can learn a lot from Burkina Faso! Learning from each other: the best way to adapt to climate change.

Wastewater treatment new theme in Blue Deal partnership Peru

The third Blue Deal work visit of this year to Peru took place from November 20 until December 6. This time, the focus was on flood prevention plans, water distribution and water purification – with the latter subject being tackled thoroughly for the first time.

Dutch and Peruvian colleagues inspecting a wastewater treatment plant

In addition, work continued with the 2 Water Councils in Piura and Tumbes and their technical teams on the last stage of the update of the water management programs.

Workshops by experts

A Dutch specialist in wastewater treatment (installations) provided sessions on water treatment plants and visited several existing water treatment plants in the field. The intention is to provide further input for improvement on this subject in the coming years, together with other experts.

2 other Dutch experts provided workshops on forecasting water availability, spatial planning and climate-adaptive working. Field visits also gave them a better picture of the river basin and the problems faced by residents and water users, This will enable them to provide better input and feedback on the water management and distribution plans in both regions.

Economics and protection of ecosystems

Another 2 Dutch colleagues were working on project management matters for Phase 2 of the Blue Deal programme. They also consulted extensively with the drafters and the Water Councils on the flood prevention plans in both regions. Finally, the Dutch team was also able to educate themselves about how an important economic activity can (or cannot) go hand in hand with the protection of an important ecosystem, during a visit to the coastal shrimp farms and the nearby mangrove forests.

Boost for the programme

The work visit was concluded in Lima with consultations at the Dutch embassy and at the Autoridad Nacional de Agua (ANA) of Peru. Here, the team shared the final reports with the ANA headquarters and the Dutch embassy in Lima. They used this opportunity to address identified bottlenecks in the regional flood prevention plans that require action from Lima. Once again, the team concluded that personal contact and consultation through the work visits is essential to get things done, to initiate and to boost the programme.

Work visit from Peru to the Netherlands

On December 12, José Alberto del Corral Parodi visited the office of the Dutch water authority Noorderzijlvest in Groningen. Del Corral Parodi is Advisor Politics, Development and Trade and is the contact at the Dutch Embassy in Lima for the Blue Deal partnership in Peru. Water authority Noorderzijlvest is responsible for the partnership management of this partnership.

A bridge in Peru that regularly has to be rebuild due to floods

During the visit, Del Corral Parodi learned much about the organization and work of a water authority in the Dutch and international context. He also had the opportunity to see some project realizations during field visits. He always has been closely involved in the project implementation, and is very positive about the impact of the Blue Deal activities and method – regionally and nationally. That is why he is an excellent advocate for the Blue Deal Programme.

The goal of the visit was to inform him about the principal aspects of the functioning and activities of water authority Noorderzijlvest, and about the international cooperation activities of Dutch Water Authorities in the Blue Deal setting. Secondly, the Blue Deal was interested to hear about his point of view regarding the impact and importance of the Blue Deal programme in his country.

Besides meetings with the Dutch team, Del Corral Parodi visited De Onlanden, a water storage area that is part of a set of flood prevention measures. The team also showed him the climate adaptation measures in the industrial area Euvelgunne, in the city of Groningen.

Several activities in Vietnam

Since the start of the Blue Deal partnership in Vietnam on June 10, 2022, there have been many activities. An update on the programme.

Official start in June

On June 10, after 2 years of absence, it was finally time: the official start of the Blue Dragon Program in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. In the presence of the directors of the Vietnamese partners, Hau Giang Province, Kien Giang Province and Can Tho City, Nettie Aarnink, member of the executive board of the Dutch water authority Vechtstromen, addressed the participants at the kick-off. In addition to these 3 partners, Can Tho University is an important partner for the Blue Deal. Nettie Aarnink signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with this university about cooperation in the coming years.

Training weeks and Dutch trade mission

Since June 10, 4 training weeks have already been carried out in Vietnam: 2 on asset management and 2 weeks on communication about awareness raising. In addition, Blue Dragon was a member of the Dutch Trade Mission to Vietnam from 28 to 30 November under the leadership of the Dutch Minister Liesje Schreinemacher of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Young Expert

In the last 2 weeks of September, one of the local Vietnamese employees was in the Netherlands. She was selected to participate in the Young Expert Programme. During these first 2 weeks of the 2-year programme, all Young Experts of the Blue Deal partnerships came together in the Netherlands to meet and start a network.