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.
Read more about this subject
News / 10 February 2020
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News / 10 February 2020
Over 70 organisations worldwide have signed an open letter to call upon the Dutch government to vote against CETA - the 'Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement'between Canada and the EU this week. They have serious concerns about the negative global social and environmental impacts of the CETA trade deal and similar upcoming European Union's trade agreements.
Press release / 3 February 2020
Amsterdam, 3 February 2020 - A step forward, but oil and gas remain a blind spot in Dutch pension fund ABP's new investment policy published today. That's what environmental organisations Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace Netherlands and urgewald say in response to the new climate policy of the EU's largest pension fund, with assets over 442 billion euros. Although ABP is taking first steps to invest sustainably, more is needed to stop the climate crisis.
News / 2 February 2020
The world has to stop using fossil fuels, but investment in the sector continues unabated. Investors of all kinds, including banks, insurance companies and pension funds, are hesitant about making the change to sustainable energy and are not sure where to start. In the autumn of 2019, together with the DivestInvest Network and Sustainable Energy (Denmark), Both ENDS published a report entitled ‘Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Businesses’. The report describes five criteria to test whether companies in the fossil sector are actively taking steps to wind down their fossil activities. The criteria are helping investors to choose investments that are in line with the Paris goal of restricting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. We spoke to Lars Jensen, Senior Analyst at Sustainable Energy and lead author of the report.
Blog / 21 January 2020By Michael Rice
Photo Blog - Like many communities in Indonesia, life in Semanga Village, West Kalimantan, revolves around a river. The 90 or so houses follow the curving bank of the Sambas River, each with a path down to a small pontoon where fishing traps and baskets are stacked and boats are tied.
News / 24 December 2019
We have already defined our own Green New Years resolutions!
Publication / 23 December 2019
News / 16 December 2019
Earlier this month, the seven men found guilty of the murder of Berta Cáceres were sentenced to jail for periods between 30 and 50 years. The court confirmed its opinion that Berta Cáceres was murdered for her role in defending the rights of the indigenous Lenca communities.
News / 9 December 2019
At the end of November, the organisations WALHI South Sulawesi (part of Friends of the Earth) and Both ENDS filed a formal complaint with the Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB. Despite the warnings from local communities for the negative consequences of a land reclamation project in the bay of Makassar, Atradius DSB advised the Dutch government to provide dredging company Boskalis with insurance for the execution of the project. The consequences for the fish stock, the beach and the lives of thousands of small-scale fishermen and their families are severe. Atradius DSB has not sufficiently investigated these harmful consequences beforehand.
Event / 4 December 2019, 15:00 - 16:30
On Wednesday December 4th 2019 Both ENDS together with Heinrich Böll Stiftung from he US organises a side event at the UNFCCC COP in Madrid: Can the GCF Catalyze Inclusive, Gender-Responsive Local Climate Action Globally and in Latin America?
News / 26 November 2019
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They call for urgent action and support the international Climate Strike taking place this Friday, November 29. In cities all over the world, young and old will take to the streets again. In the Netherlands too, climate strikes will be organised in many cities.
News / 18 November 2019
Good news for the climate: last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2021. This is part of its new energy strategy.
Press release / 18 November 2019
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Publication / 17 November 2019
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Publication / 8 November 2019
Video / 8 November 2019
The Athi River Community Network is made up of communities who live along the Athi River watershed. Members of the Athi River Community Network promised to join forces with the Friends of Ondiri Wetland to ensure that this critical wetland is restored and conserved for the sake of current and future generations.
News / 8 November 2019
On Thursday November 7th, a group of European NGO's including Both ENDS, sent a letter to Vice-President of the EU Frans Timmermans, in which they ask him to support the phase out of European Investment Bank’s fossil fuel financing by the end of 2020.
News / 5 November 2019
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News / 31 October 2019
Earlier this month, we learned that Golfrid Siregar, an Indonesian environmental lawyer working for our partner organisation WALHI died under suspicious circumstances. We call for a thorough and transparent investigation and have brought the case to the attention of the Indonesian embassy in The Hague and to the Netherlands' embassy in Jakarta.