News23 April 2020
Projects that need to be put on hold until further notice; expats that need to return to their home countries; and most employees working from home. These are the Covid-19 experiences of some NWP members. Yet, there is a great deal of resilience in the Dutch water sector. Plans are being made for the post-crisis world and new ways to deal with ongoing developments are being designed. New circumstances call for new and creative approaches. Three NWP members tell us their stories and show their resilience.
VEI builds peer-to-peer partnerships among water operators to improve the performance of water and sanitation utilities in developing and transition countries. Known as Water Operator Partnerships or WOPs, these partnerships are the means to share knowledge and expertise, build local capacity and implement best practices. VEI is currently involved in WOPs with dozens of water operators in more than 20 countries worldwide, mostly in Africa, Asia and South America.
Working mostly internationally, Covid-19 restrictions are affecting VEI’s operations. Its CEO Marco Schouten explains that they have dismantled most of their international activities and “repatriated our expat employees, closed our office, put a hold on international travel and informed our co-financers about the uncertainty and potential delays in project completion”. Organisations working on projects and contracts abroad cannot continue their work and their objectives and plans are under more pressure. However, Schouten has also received positive messages from his international network. For instance, he adds, “VEI and the Addis Ababa utility have developed an operational manual for the Addis Ababa utility on dealing with the corona crisis. But the manual was adopted by all 400 utilities in Ethiopia and is now adopted by other VEI partner utilities outside Ethiopia.”
Van Essen Instruments, a world leader in the design and manufacturing of ground and surface water data acquisition technology, provides hydrogeology professionals with the tools they need to accurately and reliably monitor groundwater conditions. A core product for Van Essen is the Diver Datalogger which is used all around the world for long-term groundwater monitoring as well as in applications for agriculture, mining and water management. Its technology uses external sensors and flow meters for open channels to measure such things as the tide in Rotterdam Harbour. Committed to the environment, Van Essen Instruments’ technology helps protect water resources around the world.
Many organisations around the world are experiencing a drop in sales brought on by travel restrictions and working at home, and Van Essen Instruments is no different. General Manager, Johan van Bruggen explains that some projects, initially planned to start within a few weeks, are likely to be delayed because “field work has also been stopped for now and we are running all the administrative and project work from home”. Although this home-based working model makes it harder to connect with colleagues, Van Essen Instruments has introduced various means to bring the team closer. Johan mentions that they now have a “daily team start call. Everyone in the team joins in and briefly says what they are planning to do that day. We also have a week-ending session in which we chat about anything except work.”
WASTE’s mission is to find sustainable solutions to manage the waste of the urban poor. The NGO sees waste as a potential source of income, especially in lower income countries around the world. WASTE deploys its ‘Diamond Approach’ to create sanitation and solid waste systems. Its focus lies on business development, innovative financing and scaling up of Public Private Partnerships.
The crisis is forcing activities in the developing countries where WASTE operates to slow down. However, the need for access to safe water and sanitation in these countries is becoming even more pressing now. Jacqueline Barendse, Business and Financial Innovation specialist at WASTE, explains that they “are picking up signals from various donors that show increasing awareness of the importance of access to safe water and sanitation. Our donors believe that Covid-19 is making the need for safe water and sanitation more urgent. The challenge will be to translate this into action and scaling up.” As field activities have slowed down, more time is being reserved for “discussing how we can carry out our work after the crisis. We have to be ready to tackle the challenges coming our way” continues Jacqueline. Despite the negative effects of the corona crisis, there are positive outcomes popping up in WASTE’s international network. According to Jacqueline, one of their Indian partners “has started delivering food packages to poor communities and has launched additional programmes to protect particular workers, mainly waste collectors, by handing out protective gloves and face masks.”
The corona crisis is affecting us all and NWP would like to know how your organisation is coping with these unprecedented times. Have you created any positive impact in the face of Covid-19 and/or would you like to share your organisation’s response to corona related challenges? Then drop a line to our Membership Officer Roos Kirsten at email@example.com.