At the beginning of September, Nettie Aarnink, member of the executive board at the Dutch water authority Vechtstromen, visited eSwatini. The most important part of this work visit was the visit to "the honorable Minister Mabuza" of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Energy. During this visit they made agreements about the role and input of the national government for the next phase of the Blue Deal partnership.
Agreements have been made about the personnel and financial input that the national government will provide in eSwatini. Agreements have also been made to support one of the most important processes for the further decentralization of water management in Eswatini. The visit and speeches of Mabuza and Aarnink received a lot attention on television and in the newspapers.
Another important part of this work visit was to contribute to the gender workshop for the Joint River Basin Authorities (JRBA) and the main partner organizations of the JRBA. As in the Netherlands, there are fewer women than men active in the water sector in eSwatini. But there is an important difference: much more than in the Netherlands, the work of the water authorities has a direct influence on the lives and futures of girls and women.
Often it is the girls who have to fetch water for the family. A great deal of time is lost when the distance between the water well and the home is increased. For girls, this is at the expense of school time, sometimes girls are no longer able to go to school. In addition, it is often the women who grow the crops for their own family. Good water management is of vital importance to them. Hence the focus on gender. Aarnink contributed to this by sharing her experiences in the Netherlands and in other African countries and by talking to the board members of the JRBA.
UNDP, European Union delegation and WaterAid
Finally, visits were also made to the UNDP, the European Union delegation in eSwatini and to WaterAid. These organizations are already involved and the Blue Deal would like to connect them (even) more to the activities in eSwatini. All in all, a very useful work visit that will have an impact on the cooperation within the Blue Deal partnership.