Government to continue sending expert water teams worldwide

The special teams deployed worldwide by the Netherlands to advise countries on how to protect themselves against flooding will be continuing their activities in the years ahead. Foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen and infrastructure and environment minister Melanie Schultz van Hagen have pledged to fund the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) teams for another three years.

The DRR teams have more than proven their worth in recent years. They have helped protect populations more effectively from major flooding, drought and serious water pollution, while transferring and exporting Dutch water knowledge and expertise. The teams consist of water experts from government, knowledge institutions and the business community. Anywhere on the planet, when another country is facing a potential or actual water-related disaster, its government can directly call on the Netherlands for support.

Ms Schultz van Haegen commented, ‘We have over eight centuries of experience in battling the sea, so it’s no surprise that when there’s a water-related disaster somewhere in the world, the cry goes up, “Bring in the Dutch!” The Netherlands is happy to help and to learn from the experience. Because every single country is different, we’re always learning something new.’

Aid and trade

Over the past twelve months, the Netherlands has undertaken 22 missions to a variety of countries. In every case, local authorities received tailor-made advice on how to prevent disasters such as flooding, drought or serious water pollution. This helped to make the country safer to live in, besides boosting the regional economy. As a result, a number of Dutch knowledge and research institutes and companies received follow-up contracts.

 ‘It’s a two-way process,’ Ms Ploumen said. ‘You’re helping people and improving their living conditions. And at the same time, Dutch companies and knowledge institutions are playing a major part. It’s a fine example of aid and trade.’

For example, after a DRR mission to Panama City, the local Panamanian authorities hired Dutch experts to safeguard the water supply. The Philippines are currently drawing up a master plan for coastal protection, in which the work of Dutch experts is being funded by the central government in Manila.

A total of €4.6 million is being made available to continue the work of the DRR teams, each of which consists of three or four experts. After a period of preparation in the Netherlands they set off for their mission abroad, which takes approximately one week. A total of 27 missions were undertaken in 2016 and 2017, most recently in Bolivia, Sri Lanka and Guinea.