Africa on the Dutch IJssel River
“I will not go!” Sena Alouka yells in the bus along the highway as we pass a desolate farm that is totally surrounded by bulldozers and soil that has been turned and ploughed. A familiar sight for most of the riders in the bus, which includes nine Africans, an Indonesian and a handful of Dutch people. Evictions and land expropriations are an almost daily occurrence in Africa and Indonesia. And then the whole group spontaneously chants: “I will not go! We will support you!”
Room for the River
It is 6 February and we are on our way to Voorst where we are going to take a look at the “Room for the River” project near the IJssel River. Sena Alouka, director of the environmental organisation JVE Togo, like the rest of the group, works on sustainable water management and the fair distribution of water in his own country. The group’s members work together with communities that all have vivid experiences of losing their livelihood when they’re suddenly faced with the fact that there are no more fish left in the river; or when the river just totally vanishes, leaving nothing to fish in; or when they discover their land and homes under water. Flooding sometimes also occurs in the Netherlands and so we are also going to see how this issue is tackled here.
Mame Latyr Fall (Forum Civil Senegal) , Dickens Kamugisha (AFIEGO Uganda), Robert Kugonza (NAPE Uganda)
Contributing to the thinking process
The involved partners all know from years of experience how difficult it is to manage water supplies and rivers in a sustainable manner and how important it is to get all of various water users (those from the neighbourhood, farmers, businesses) involved. Plans drawn up and subsequently adopted by the authorities without local consultation are pretty much doomed to fail. It is only when ideas involve the input of everyone involved and their ideas are taken seriously that one and all will sufficiently feel responsible for the success of a particular project. The magic words in this case are “participatory water management”. But our partners want to take this further: not only do the participants involved have to approve the plans but they also need to work together during the development phases.
This method, which is called the “Negotiated Approach”, has already produced some positive results in various river basin areas around the world. Both ENDS, together with the above-mentioned African and Indonesian partner organisations, have been very active in introducing this method into practice in the regions these organisations focus on. This, however, will only succeed if local and national governments support it, and the Netherlands can potentially play an important role in this regard. The Netherlands has designated water as one of its top sectors for serious involvement. We Dutch people know better than anyone about the need to harness water and this knowledge is something we are more than willing to export.
|Sena Alouka (JVE Togo)||Serah Munguti (Nature Kenya) and Papa Wawade Wade (Wetlands International Senegal)||Robert Kugonza (NAPE Uganda)|
However, we should not limit it to our technical knowledge; we should also be willing to export our water management “software”, which includes our experience with the consulting and negotiation processes, as well as our “polder model”. When it comes to water management, “software” is just as important as “hardware”. This became very clear during a recent luncheon reading organised by Both Ends on 5 February 2014 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where two of our partners gave a presentation. By discussing their practical experiences in both Kenya and Togo, they were able to present a very powerful message.
Back to Voorst
Once we had arrived at the Water Board in Voorst we quickly saw with our own eyes the problematic nature of water along the IJssel. It is also became instantly clear how totally different the Dutch and African realities actually are. “How many homes end up under water here?” Serah Munguti of the Nature Kenya organisation asks the spokesperson giving us the tour of the project.
“For this particular part of the project we will need to evacuate about eight families.” Our guests stare at him in amazement. In other words, all this effort for just eight families? In Africa or Asia, a similar situation quickly means hundreds of victims. Moreover, the devastation these people experience largely goes uncompensated or under-compensated at best.
“And how much compensation do these families receive?” Munguti inquires.
“Enough to purchase a new farm, move all their belongings and start from scratch again.”
Prigi Arisandi (Ecoton Indonesia)
Prigi Arisandi, from Ecoton, an Indonesian organisation, is also very impressed. “We are already happy when the local government, after years of resistance and protest, finally relents and accepts responsibility for the quality of the water in our river. The issue of preventing flooding in Indonesia in the future has thus far remained unaddressed.”
Readiness does not cost anything
It is obvious that the Dutch model can never be transferred directly on a one-to-one basis in Africa, Asia or Latin America. In the Netherlands, they make plans for the very long term and plans are only developed after extensive studies have been performed. Meanwhile, non-Western countries tend to more readily operate in an ad hoc manner. That is not something one can change in a day. But negotiating, listening to people with practical experience, understanding one another’s point of view, considering the various interests and collectively arriving at a compromise, are certainly details that fit into many other realities than just our Dutch context. This means, first and foremost, that consciousness-raising, support and preparation are of particular importance. This is something our guests hope to take back with them from the Netherlands.
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Event / 6 December 2023, 15:00 - 16:30
Agroecology as a Climate Change Measure: Exploring financial opportunities for Agroecological Practices in Africa
Climate conference (UNFCCC) side event
This event will showcase the vital need to advance agroecology as a people, nature and livelihood-centred approach towards climate adaptation and mitigation. It will make the case for agroecology and climate action based on researched and carefully selected case studies on agroecology in Africa and how it is and can continue contributing to adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change.
Event / 3 December 2023, 10:15 - 11:45
Climate conference (UNFCCC) side event
Let's tackle gender equality in climate policy & finance, moving from obstacles to practical solutions at our in-person event on December 3rd in Dubai.
News / 29 November 2023
The climate crisis continues to escalate, and the urgency for meaningful solutions has never been more palpable. As world leaders gather for the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28), it's crucial that grassroots voices are not just heard but leading on the solutions we craft. We must recognise the climate leadership of the self-led groups of women, girls, trans and intersex within the Indigenous, Afrodescendant and rural communities that have been structurally excluded and silenced as the world grapples with climate change.
News / 26 November 2023
We are concerned about the results of the Dutch Parliamentary elections on November 22, 2023. The Netherlands is in danger of turning its back on the rest of the world and hiding itself behind its own dikes. Meanwhile, within our national borders, people are being excluded and their place in society is being questioned.
Event / 23 November 2023, 16:45 - 18:15
News / 16 November 2023
Disposable fashion items continue to flood into the country, the nitrogen crisis has brought construction to a standstill and energy poverty is on the rise, but Dutch politicians are contemplating their navels. These are problems that we can never solve on our own. The clothes we wear, the food on our plates, and the electricity that comes out of our wall sockets – they are all produced in global trade and production chains. With far-reaching consequences, both in our own country and far, very far beyond our borders. It would be naive to think that we can solve all these problems through domestic policies alone. And vice versa: we would be evading our responsibilities if we continued to believe that the Netherlands only plays a humble role on the global stage. Latest figures show that the Netherlands is the fourth largest exporter and the seventh largest importer of products worldwide. With the elections on the way, it is time to look beyond our own small country. Because it is also important to vote with a worldwide impact.
News / 15 November 2023
For generations, the people of Bangladesh’ flood-prone deltas have shaped their natural environment to support agricultural production. They used temporary embankments to keep tidal waters out of the floodplains for most of the year and let the rivers flow freely during monsoon season, allowing the sediment to settle on the floodplains as part of the delta formation process.
Publication / 13 November 2023
Event / 12 November 2023, 13:00
On Sunday November 12th, we'll join the feminist block of this year's climate march in Amsterdam. Join us!
News / 9 November 2023
Both ENDS has two new interim directors from November 9: Annelieke Douma and Karin van Boxtel. After 15 years, Danielle Hirsch hands over the directorship. She is currently standing for election to the GroenLinks/PvdA list. Annelieke and Karin will lead Both ENDS during the transition period to a new director of Both ENDS. Together with the board and the organisation, the new directors duo is full of energy to get to work in the coming months.
Event / 9 November 2023, 20:30 - 22:30
See the Dutch web page for more information (in Dutch).
News / 6 November 2023
On 27 October, RTL Nieuws reported that the Steungroep Nicaragua considers the millions of euros that the Dutch development bank FMO is investing in Nicaragua irresponsible. When asked, FMO stated that 'it had to continue to support its entrepreneurs in difficult times'. Both ENDS believes that the choice to continue to invest in Nicaragua brings substantial risks, which FMO does not take sufficiently into account when deciding on financing. Previous FMO investments have caused harm to people and the environment and, in some cases, even led to violence – with, as its lowest point, the murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras in 2016.
Publication / 30 October 2023
Event / 27 October 2023, 20:00
In 2021, the Dutch government provided a €1.000.000.000,- worth export credit support to Totals Mozgas project in Cabo Delgado, despite civil society warnings about human rights and environmental risks. The gas exploitation fueled a violent conflict, culminating in the Palma attack, displacing 800,000 people and killing 1,200 people.
Publication / 16 October 2023
News / 13 October 2023
"Water is life, water is food" is this year's theme for World Food Day. Our partners around the world know all too well that this is a very true sentence. To celebrate World Food Day 2023 this October 16th, we'd like to show a few examples of how our partners fight for the right to water and this way, contribute to local food sovereignty at the same time.
Press release / 4 October 2023
A coalition of NGOs today launched the Financial Exclusions Tracker, a new website that tracks which companies are being excluded by investors and banks for sustainability reasons. Most excluded corporations are barred due to links to fossil fuels, weapons or tobacco.
Event / 28 September 2023, 16:00 - 17:30
What does a food system look like that serves the well-being of people and the planet?
While agriculture and livestock food production in the world have become increasingly large-scale, industrial and ever more efficient for decades, the damage and inequality this food system causes is also becoming increasingly clear. Across the world, more and more people are therefore engaged in alternative, sustainable food production that ensures many generations to come to still have access to fertile, healthy land and clean water.
In this talkshow, we highlight some of these examples and hope to fuel the dialogue about this topic.
- Rosinah Mbenya - PELUM Kenya (via Zoom)
- Matt Canfield - University of Leiden
- Ida Simonsen - Dutch UN Youth Representative Biodiversity and Food
- John Arink - Ekoboerderij Arink (biodynamic farmer)
Farid Tabarki - Studio Zeitgeist
Inspired? Join our 'The Future We See' - talkshow on September 28th! You can either attend live or online, quietly listen or actively participate in the discussion - or during the drinks afterwards. We hope to see you there!
Also take a look at our previous session
To get a glimpse of the atmosphere, see a short video of our last session (about economic systems): https://youtu.be/AUNGcROovnc
And to dive in a little deeper, watch this compilation: https://youtu.be/nzuwIREeiNo
News / 21 September 2023
Six out of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed (Stockholm Resilience Centre) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the world is likely to breach global temperature of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels between now and 2027. COP28 is the moment of the first Global Stocktake, which means the assessment of where we are at in reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement.
News / 18 September 2023
In the heart of Liberia, the Western Region Women Network Association (WERWONA) is scripting a story of resilience, advocacy, and transformation. This journey began in September 2022 when WERWONA, supported by Both ENDS's partner Sustainable Development Institute, embarked on a mission to empower women leaders and communities in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu counties to reclaim their rights to land and natural resources. This shows how the partnership between Both ENDS and local organisations is driving positive change in Liberia.