Friday, May 29, 2009

Netherlands Water Partnership

Author: Robert Bair


What a week! The whole group has been kept busy with meeting after meeting. So much information has been dumped on me that it might take me the whole weekend to reflect on it.

As far as my research goes, all of the details have been set in place. My mentors are now Dr. Diederik Rousseau and Dr. Roel Meulepas. I will be working on zinc and lead uptake and absorption by Lemna gibba (duckweed). I find this research to be particularly relevant for wastewater treatment in developing countries as it is a low-energy and low-cost treatment solution. The removal of zinc is useful for treating the effluent of tanneries, which in many developing countries goes back into the environment untreated. Once I am done with the equipment training, I should be ready to start the experiments.

Until the experiments start I have plenty to think about. This week has been very full of interesting meetings and field trips (most of which have been described in the previous blog entries). Yesterday we went and visited the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) in Den Haag. The NWP is an consortium of different NGOs, Private businesses and Governmental Programs that all deal with water and sanitation. Their primary focus is to consolidate the information and expertise of their members and distribute that information to countries abroad. In this way, many of the technological advances that the Netherlands have made in the water sector are made available to even the poorest of countries. When looking at the Millennium development goals, the NWP seems like a incarnation of Goal 8, Target 5 (Which is to build global partnerships which make new technology available to developing countries).

While at the water house a representative from AKVO gave us a short presentation. AKVO is an NGO that uses some of the newest advances in technology to connect donors in developed countries to agencies working in developing countries on water and sanitation projects. On their website (AKVO.org) a donor can find a brief description of the various projects that need funding. Immediately the donor can channel money to the project via paypal. Once a project is funded, the program implementers can record their progress on cell phone cameras and post it online. In this way the donor can measure progress and really feel connected to the project. This set up is particularly beneficial for small and medium sized organizations that often find it very hard to find international donors.

I am always happy to hear how advances in technology are changing the way NGOs work. Technology is definitely making it easier to maintain transparency within an organization. I don’t think this model is flawless, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

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