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
Event / 19 June 2022, 12:30
Still, more funds are spent on the fossil industry than on sustainable solutions. Banks, pension funds, insurers and governments keep investing in fossil infrastructure which endangers people and the environment. Therefore we call on financial institutions to stop funding the climate crisis.
Join our "Stop Fossil Finance" block at the next climate march!
External link / 15 June 2022
Joint CSO call to all WTO Trade Ministers to not accept the current draft of Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement and demand a real Waiver
Event / 14 June 2022, 15:00 - 16:30
Both ENDS and the Land Portal Foundation invite you to the second webinar in the Whose Land? Inclusive Pathways to Land Governance series, which will focus on the opportunities and constraints of civil society organizations (CSOs) and local communities in advocating for more open land data and in harnessing its power for improved land governance.
News / 13 June 2022
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Despite the existence of many hydropower dams, foreign investments and large government spending on energy, and new plans for hydropower, oil and gas projects, the vast majority of rural Uganda still remains without electricity. Together with our local partners we are striving towards a sustainable energy strategy for Uganda that starts from the needs and wishes of local communities.
News / 10 June 2022
In a new Position Statement on Financial Intermediary (FI) Lending, Dutch development bank FMO argues for limited responsibility over the outcomes investments that are channeled through commercial banks, investment funds, and other financial intermediaries, representing by far the bigger sector of its portfolio. In doing so, FMO is undermining its development mission, including the protection of human rights and addressing the climate crisis. FMO intends to delegate these key responsibilities to its FI clients only, falling short of best practices of peer financial institutions. In a joint submission prepared by Both ENDS, Oxfam Novib, Recourse and SOMO, we argue that FMO can do much more to ensure the protection of human rights, the environment, and to measure the development impact of its indirect investments.
Letter / 10 June 2022
Both ENDS, SOMO, Oxfam Novib and Recourse send in a submission to FMO's public consultation on its Position Statement on Financial Intermediaries. In this position statement, FMO only takes limited responsibility for the consequences of its investments through so-called financial intermediaries. We call upon FMO to publish a position statement that focuses on protecting human rights and the environment and take full responsibility for this.
Letter / 9 June 2022
Pesticide Action Network and 430 civil society and indigenous peoples organizations from 69 countries have sent a letter of concern to the 170th session of FAO council about the FAO partnership agreement with CropLife International.
CropLife International is a global trade association whose members are the world's largest agrichemical, pesticide and seed companies: BASF, Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, FMC Corporation, Sumitomo Chemical and Syngenta. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) en CropLife International have started a partnership in 2020 to collaborate on pesticide use. We think that this partnership is incompatible with FAO's obligations to uphold human rights, directly counters any efforts toward progressively banning Highly Hazardous Pesticides, and undercuts the FAO and several Member States' support for agroecology and other transformative practices.
The letter asks the Council to review and end immediately the partnership agreement with CropLife International.
News / 9 June 2022
This week, Geneva will be the epicenter of world trade, as trade ministers and other representatives from around the world gather for the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference. Liesje Schreinemacher, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, is present with a delegation. Our colleague Burghard Ilge is joining as an official member of the delegation, to represent civil society organisations. Colleague Fernando Hernandez will also travel to Geneva, to follow and try to influence the negotiations from outside the conference room together with other civil society organisations from around the world.
Event / 28 May 2022, 13:00 - 14:15
Afrikadag: Future of food and farming in Africa: the role for small-scale agroecological food production
Join us this Saturday the 28th of May for an inpiring session about the role of agro-ecology in the trasformation to a future proof food and farming system on the African continent (and beyond).
Blog / 27 May 2022
and Abigail Kyomuhendo*
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Press release / 25 May 2022
Award of export support for controversial project in Manilla undermines the Netherlands’ environmental and CSR ambitions
Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB announced yesterday that it is to provide export credit insurance worth 1,5 billion euros to Dutch dredging company Boskalis for a controversial land reclamation project in the Philippines. According to Dutch and international organisations, including Both ENDS, CARE Netherlands, IUCN NL, Kalikasan PNE and Oceana Philippines, the award of export credit insurance for this project runs contrary to the Netherlands' ambitions in the areas of environment and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
News / 19 May 2022
Both ENDS and 95 other organisations* today sent a letter to State Secretary for Finance Marnix van Rij and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher calling on them to implement the Glasgow Declaration in full. In this agreement, which the Netherlands and 33 other countries signed at the Glasgow climate conference, the signatory countries pledge to stop all public funding for fossil projects by the end of 2022.
Press release / 19 May 2022
122 CSOs warn signatory countries they have only six months left to meet COP26 commitment to end international public finance for all fossil fuels
Today, 122 civil society groups are releasing letters to eleven government signatories to the Glasgow Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition, laying out the actions they must take as soon as possible to meet their commitment. In this joint statement at COP26, 35 countries and 5 public finance institutions committed to end their international public finance for 'unabated' fossil fuels by the end of 2022, and instead prioritise their "support fully towards the clean energy transition."
Event / 18 May 2022, 10:45 - 12:15
UNCCD-COP15: Monitoring Tree Cover and Enhancing Decision Making Tools Across Africa’s Great Green Wall
Join us for an open space for a reflection and exchange on a new dataset, developed by WRI, to monitor regreening efforts, and its applications in the Sahel.
In the drylands of Africa, land degradation threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, there are promising initiatives emerging all over the continent that are turning the tide. Throughout the Sahel, for example, vast tracts of land along the Great Green Wall have been restored by local communities. They have nurtured the plants that spontaneously spring from the soil, protecting young sprouts from cattle and other hazards.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
UNCCD-COP15: How funders can best support agroecological initiatives by local communities in drylands
Join our dialogue on how to set up more and better financial mechanisms that can support agroecological initiatives of local communities living in drylands.
The land degradation neutrality (LDN) response hierarchy of Avoid > Reduce > Reverse land degradation is an overarching principle for LDN implementation, which guides people in planning interventions to achieve LDN. The hierarchy articulates which interventions should be prioritised based on their potential to maximise the conservation of land-based natural capital, recognising that avoiding or reducing land degradation is generally more cost-effective than efforts to reverse past degradation. As value for money is highest in the Avoiding and in Reducing Land Degradation response, a smart way to spend money is to support sustainable land management approaches like agroecology that work with nature, not against it.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
Join our event, providing space for an interactive discussion among COP15 participants on multi-actor collaboration and the financing of community-based restoration
Letter / 15 May 2022
Both ENDS Comments and recommendations on the Bank Group’s Environmental and Social Policy of the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
This letter by Both ENDS to the African Development Bank is a comment written in reaction to a draft version published by the Bank of its Environmental and Social Policy as part of a formal public consultation held by the Bank. This comment was sent to the bank along a joint submission letter with other CSOs, and specifically responds to the overarching Policy.
The bank's flexible requirements for clients and national standards for risky projects dilute safeguards. Project approval should be predicated on specific and binding targets for compliance and reflect input from communities involved.
Letter / 15 May 2022
Joint Submission of comments and recommendations to the Public Consultation on AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
Together with 29 other CSO's, we've submitted our comments and recommendations in the Public Consultation on the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System. These include that the Bank should prioritize community-led development and human rights-based approaches; protect natural resources and tackles environmental and climate crises; raise the bar on access to information, transparency and accountability; facilitate participatory processes in policies, programmes and projects; and end inequality, poverty, and the cutback and privatization of vital services.
News / 10 May 2022
From May 9 to 20, the 15th Conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (UNCCD COP15) will take place in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire. Governments, policymakers, civil society organisations and scientists from countries all over the world will discuss the problems around drought, land degradation and desertification that are increasing. Colleagues Nathalie van Haren and Stefan Schüller will be there, as will a large number of representatives of organisations with which Both ENDS has been working together for decades. But what is the purpose of the meeting, what is discussed and why is it important to be present? We asked Nathalie and Stefan.