Green campaign through virtual trees

Six friends campaigning by sharing an interactive campaign tree on a green topic. More participation in online actions help pimping the team tree and score points and lead to green prizes. That is the concept of the new Dutch site  In the first days more than 5,000 people registered; 1,200 already joined the first campaign “stop the paper telephone guide”.

Kairos Tools, a small internet tool development foundation, developed the concept to draw in 20-35 year people (older alsoe welcome) with an active social network and some interest in green and fair topics. They can put the virtual tree on their own sites or friends sites such as Hyves. It won Kairos Tools this weekend the 25,000 Euro first prize in the Digitale Pioniers Academie 2009 pitch in Amsterdam.

The Guardian “tracks” a rural development project in Uganda

“I wonder if it will ever happen again,” pondered Madeleine Bunting, editorial director of the Guardian’s Katine project – a three-year link up between two NGOs – the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Farm-Africa – and the media organisation in north-east Uganda. The NGOs are implementing the work in the rural sub-county, while the Guardian reports on progress on its dedicated website and encourages donations from readers, which are being matchfunded by Barclays.

So would it? Possibly not at the Guardian – at least not in the same way – but perhaps in a different form, elsewhere. But whatever people think of the Katine project, it has demonstrated how new media can be used to campaign and fundraise, writes Glenda Cooper in her 5 Feb blog.

Since late 2007 the Guardian is tracking Amref’s three-year development project to improve the lives of the 25,000 people in Katine sub-county in Uganda. They are explaining where donations go, how aid works, and how lives are changed.

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Will economic stimulus packages benefit water and sanitation investments?

In various countries hurt by the economic crisis discussions emerge about speeding up infrastructure investments in public works to stimulate the economy. This will create jobs and lead to assets that contribute to the social and economic prosperity of a nation. Each US$ 1 billion invested in water and wastewater infrastructure projects generates more than 47,000 jobs. “Hopefully, this emerging trend to stimulate economies through infrastructure may also directly benefit water and sanitation,” writes my colleague editor Pamela Wolfe in her commentary in World Water and Environmental Engineering of November/December 2008.
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A water shortage warning from the CEO of Nestlé, bio fuels adding another drain

“I am convinced that, under present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel.” Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe argues in the “The World in 2009” of The Economist (page 108) that water shortage is an even more urgent problem than climate change.

In 2009 the world needs to reflect on the underlying causes of the food crisis and start addressing structural factors, in particular the link to bio fuels and water. Since 2003 the trends in water have changed, but not for the better, Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe argues. And the craze for biofuels has added to the urgency of the water issue.

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IRC 2008 symposium ends with big party


Friday night 21 November I celebrated the 40th anniversary of my employer IRC in the beatiful Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. There we also did the last morning of our anniversary symposium on Urban Sanitation for the Poor. Rosemary Rop, WSP Africa Nairobi in her key note speech to the symposium identified six drivers of successful urban sanitation for the poor.

In the afternoon we had the Prince of Orange’s presence in a closing ceremony of the he International Year of Sanitation and many activities by Dutch coalitions. Around 250 visitors joined this Looking Beyond the International Year of Sanitation session, a joint activity of IRC, Simavi and the Netherlands Water Partnership.

Weekly knowledge streams

Knowledge will stream from my blog from Amsterdam mainly in weekends. I (Dirk de Jong) am going to combine my knowledge on water and sanitation with my knowledge and views on ICT for development. You can check who I am on my personal web site and on the one from my work at the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.