Working with old friends in Ghana

Seeing old friends is always nice. Combining that with some interesting voluntary work is even nicer in the first year of my retirement. This is what I did in Ghana a few weeks ago.  I went on holiday for two weeks visiting friends and I offered my expertise free of charge to our partner there: the WASH Resource Centre Network Ghana, I asked them how they could use me.  In the end it turned out that an interactiv workshop sharing my 40 – year experience in journalism and WASH communication with the Ghana WASH Journalists Network was very welcome. Continue reading

Dutch NGOs team up with companies for sanitation and water campaigns

Big civil society organisations in the Netherlands team up with international companies for campaigns that want to sell more products here and bring money for school latrines in Sudan and clean drinking water in Burkina Faso.

Oxfam Novib has entered a three-year partnership with SCA Hygiene Products. The Swedish multinational finances, among others, several projects on hygiene in South Sudan. The Dutch National UNICEF Committee teamed up with Spa: for every one litre bottle sold until the end of December Spa donates four litre clean drinking water in Sudan, see

In the Netherlands SCA is selling the brands Edet (toilet paper), Libresse (sanitary napkins) and Tork (soap). In the coming three years the company will support several projects of Oxfam Novib’s partner MRDA in the fields of education and hygiene. For every action box sold during the campaign SCA donates an amount to Oxfam Novib. You can also click for toilets in Sudan at

Every 100,000 click means 3,200 dollars for one school toilet.

Treadle pumps and flying toilets in Dutch press for UN meeting on poverty

This weekend two mainstream Dutch newspapers carried features leading into this week’s high-level Round-Table discussing the mixed achievements of the Millennium Development Goals. It will be held from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Wednesday, 22 September 2010, at the UN headquarters in New York, United States. This session will be Webcast live via:

Dick Wittenberg in the NRC Weekblad of 18 September reported on his going back to Dickson village in Malawi where his first feature five years ago had started a readers fundraising action to help this poor village. “Use of treadle pumps increased the income in this village”, he writes.

Kees Broere in de Volkskrant of 18 September reports on improvements in water and sanitation from the Kibera slum in Kenya. “The number of flying toilets in Kibera is going down”, he writes. Continue reading

Solar power, electronics and mobile telephony bring water to Kenya villages

Telecommunications operator Safaricom’s M-PESA enables already 8.8 million subscribers in Kenya to send and receive money through their mobile phones. It also contributes to entirely new applications that can leverage this mobile payment system. ‘Computerised water’ is one of them. See the M-PESA YouTube videoContinue reading

Water problem mentioned by wise men

Back in white Amsterdam after two nice weeks Xmas holidaying with my friend Christiaan in Tipschern, Austria (hardly any snow) I scanned my old Volkskrant newspapers. I read many year – and first decade end lists and stories in the last week of December and forward looking features on global issues that we are confronted with, and not dealing with. And to my pleasure three wise men mentioned in their interviews water as one of the main problems. Continue reading

The Masondo family in Limpopo

While in South Africa for work in November 2009 I did  few days holiday visiting my friend Jabu Masondo, who I know since 2004, when he did 15 months at IRC in an exchange programme. See his story on his visit to our partner in Zimbabwe. In 2005 we travelled three weeks together during my sabbatical leave writing stories on rural South Africa for The Mvula Trust.

Jabu is now a busy communication manager in a team of six at the Capricorn District Municipality based in Polokwane (Pietersburg). Together we visited the village of his birth, 90 minutes away from Pietersburg, close to the border with Zimbabwe. Here I had a very enjoyable meeting with his father and uncle.

Here are a few pictures. Continue reading

Communication work in Lesotho

In my work I am regularly asked to facilitate communication training or media workshops. This time the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) asked me to help them with a communication planning workshop on 10 October in Maseru, Lesotho. After three days of workshops and a general assembly I had to use lots of energisers and group work to keep the attention and active involvement of the 10 ANEW communication people. But it worked.

Here one group is analysing communication products from others.

Lesotho is a kingdom within South Africa. It is mountainous.

Mobilized twitterers do more than chatting

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was not convinced that twittering text messages via mobile phones and internet of 140 characters would make my communication work easier. I know now that twitterers can be mobilized combining chatting with fund raising. Enjoying the first Twestival in 202 cities with local parties and twittering with each other they helped raise more than US$250,000 for water supply in the developing world in February 2009.

US-based campaigning NGO charity:water has on 11 April started broadcasting live via satellite the drilling of the first Twestival well in Ethiopia. Four daily videos of the drilling are shown on their web site , and they introduce you to the community who got the donations. Amsterdam was one of the cities where the festivals brought together Twitter communities on 12 February 2009, see our electronic Source Newsletter.

Overwhelming performance of Lost and Found Orchestra in Amsterdam

It had a four out of five stars review in De Volkskrant on 4 March 2009 after the first performance of the Lost and Found Orchestra at the Carre theatre in Amsterdam, where they played until tonight. The review was so interesting that it triggered me to go this wonderful circus shaped theatre on the river Amstel together with my daughter Mirjam. We experienced an overwhelming experience. With a core group of 35 musicians and with a full choir, LFO creates a symphonic piece of music theatre, using Afro and Caribbean rhythms for their one-tone, unconventional instruments made from traffic cones, hose-pipes, saws, plumbing tubes, bottlebellows, glass instruments and anything else they can lay their hands on. They have a Hosaphone (garden hose with a brass mouthpiece and a funnel mouth) and Plumpet section, see a short video  they have online.

Creators of LFO Steve McNicholas and Luke Cresswell also made large format movies. Wild Ocean 3D was the title of the last one. They are currently producing a new movie about endangered tropical coral reefs and have other 3D movies in development.

Not convinced about Twitter

In my office ( we have started a WASH twitter site with a number of colleagues. A quick check on the WASH twitter site has not convinced me that following this group twitter is helpful for my information and communication work on WASH in the developing world. All the tweets I saw were on washing bodies, cars and babies, mainly in the USA. This is happening the same with the internet  searches on “water”, which starts with mainly USA sources.

Last Friday I finished two days of facilitation work at UNESCO IHE in Delft on water education and communication for and through mass media professionals. In an expert group of 70 education and water people from Europe and USA only two IHE people use twitter. I am on since early last year, but after a first couple of checks I could not see value for my work. With the IHE people we have started a Global Water Communicators group on Facebook. IHE’s Laura Kwak has promised me that she will put there simple Twitter applications that should be useful for my communication work.

Twitter made the Tros Radio online programme on Radio 1 on Saturday afternoon. Valerie Frissen (professor ICT and social networks) confirmed my worry: twittering is costing a considerable amount of time. So does using and and other social network communities.

I am looking forward to be convinced that the time I would spend on these are making my writing and communication work easier!