16 March 2020

Koen @ Bamako part 9

Koen Maathuis is working as Regional Manager for World Waternet in Mali. Find out more about his experiences!

Back in Amsterdam

It is Sunday morning, 8th of  March, I arrived in Amsterdam for our yearly ‘No Fly-week’; the entire team of World Waternet is present in the office for the necessary periodical interchange and strategic sessions. Besides a temperature- and humidity difference (of about 30 degrees and 70% respectively), I am always excited to be back at Waternet. It is so good to see colleagues again and feel the vibrations at the headquarters. To be away from the daily projects in West Africa and to jointly reflect on strategies, processes and teambuilding. And this is an important No-Fly week as 2020 is the year to reflect on 2016’s Business Plan and set new ambitions for the coming 5 years.

One of the reservoirs that will be studied as part of the Develop to Build (D2B) finance facility

Rehabilitating nine large reservoirs

Last few months were (again) characterized by a lot of dynamics. In Burkina Faso, our local partners (the ‘Agences de l’Eau’ and the ministerial Service Permanent GIRE) have signed a grant contract with the Dutch Develop2Build (D2B) finance facility of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). This will enable them to execute a number of feasibility studies for the rehabilitation of nine large reservoirs. These reservoirs were built around 40 years ago (often with Dutch development financing) and have deteriorated over the years. The studies of the D2B-facility will research the possibilities to renovate, dredge and improve maintenance with a possible Development Related Infrastructure Investment Vehicle (DRIVE) grant from RVO, for infrastructural development.

A high-level visit

Also were visited by the Chairman of Dutch water authority Hunze en Aa’s and the former secretary-director of Waternet in Ouagadougou . Now that the Dutch Water Authorities (DWA) have recently started the Blue Deal Faso Koom project (besides the ongoing EU-financed project with AE Nakambe), the time was there to reconfirm our commitment. It was a very useful and much appreciated visit, through which we can continue our constructive work. To be able to keep up with the growing number of projects, we are slowly increasing our permanent team in Burkina Faso; besides former Young Expert(YEP-er) Etienne Nacoulma, there are two interns, Rosali and Yasmina, one new Burkinabe YEP-er named Kevin. Moreover we have applied for another Dutch YEP-er. We hope to succeed!

Jaap Kelderman, former secretary-director of Waternet and Geert-Jan ten Brink, Chairman of the Dutch water authority Hunze en Aa’s, receive token of gratitude for their organisations' work in Burkina Faso 

Conflicts in West Africa

At the same time, conflict in Mali is further spreading into west Africa. Colleagues and friends regularly send me Dutch newspaper articles with extensive analyses. From northern Mali, militant attacks started to occur more and more in central Mali, the area bordering Burkina Faso and Niger. Tragically so, casualties are to be mourned now in those countries as well. The violence and insecurity causes people to flee these areas, generating a large number of Internally Displaced People (IDP). An extra problem to countries already dealing with so much. Also in our work, we experience the impact. We cannot travel the countries as widely as we did or wish to. Our operations mainly limits to work in Ouagadougou and Bamako. We have started safety trainings for those colleagues travelling there. During this week’s visit in the NL, we will discuss with our partners which other measures might be needed to keep ourselves safe.

Market of Segou

In the meanwhile, I am enjoying the Sunday afternoon. I seize the opportunity to catch up with my parents and ‘enjoy’ a 12 km NS-trail-hike in the drizzling rain. My next blog will be in other (Malian) weather conditions!