Politiek café: de rol van Nederlandse publieke waterbedrijven in ontwikkelingslanden

On Wednesday, March 23rd 2011, Both ENDS hosts a ‘Political Café’ about the role of Dutch public water companies in poverty alleviation in developing countries. The Secretary of State for Development Cooperation, Ben Knapen, would like to see a more direct involvement of Dutch companies in Dutch development cooperation. The Netherlands is internationally renown for its expertise in water management and both the government and the private sector would like to make this expertise a focal point of their international cooperation efforts. Already Dutch water companies such as Vitens and Evides are working with water companies in Ghana, Mozambique, Vietnam and Suriname.

A motion by Christian Democrat MP, Ad Koppejan, led to Dutch Water companies being permitted to invest 1% of their turnover abroad. Mr. Koppejan’s intend was to use this extra revenue for poverty alleviation in the water and sanitation sector.

Vitens and Evides have now been active for some time in developing countries, are there lessons to be learned from their efforts in development cooperation?

In recent years much public attention has been drawn in the Netherlands to the question whether Dutch development cooperation is effective, prompting the Dutch government to make joint coalitions of NGOs conditional to release of funds to the sector. The question is whether Mr. Knapen is demanding the same from Dutch companies involved in development cooperation? Furthermore, are there any guarantees that the involvement of Dutch companies increases the effectiveness of development cooperation?

The 1% motion of Mr. Koppejan ostensibly aims at generating resources for poverty reduction – the question remains whether the 1% is actually used for this aim. Are Dutch water companies actually providing development cooperation, or are they merely trying to obtain a market share in developing countries? And are the efforts really reaching the poor or mainly the paying middle classes?

Dutch development cooperation has always been a dance between the ‘clergyman’ who approves aid for moral reasons, and the ‘merchant’, who seeks a return. According to Mr. Knapen it is now time for the ‘merchant’, to lead the dance.

Both ENDS organises this Political Café during the World Water Week.  Policy makers, business sector representatives and experts from the field will join in a debate to discuss this strategy.

The debate will be held in English.

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23 maart | 17:30-19:30 | Cafe Dudok Hofweg 1A, Den Haag
Krista Russchen

18 maart 2011