Social Inclusion

Partners for Water promotes and facilitates inclusive solutions to global water challenges.

This page details our approach towards social inclusion and how we actively take steps toward a more inclusive water world. Discover how to get involved through our tenders, subsidy scheme, the events we organise, and more.

What we do to address social inclusion?

Water issues often impact marginalised populations and affect the areas they live in. However, solutions are frequently developed based on assumptions about these communities’ needs rather than by actively listening to their voices. This approach fails to empower them, prohibits ownership and neglects valuable local knowledge-factors which are all essential for the long-term sustainability of water projects. That’s why Partners for Water is committed to involving diverse voices in our water projects and facilitating conversations about inclusivity to foster transformation within the water sector.

We focus on facilitating early-stage projects and providing advisory support for large-scale implementation. In these projects, we emphasise co-creation with local communities and other stakeholders, adopt a multidisciplinary approach and integrate local knowledge. Additionally, we continuously aim to enhance our inclusive practices, deepen our understanding of social inclusion and share the insights and lessons learned with the global water sector.

What does social inclusion entail? “Social Inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society – improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity”

World Bank

How we work

  • Subsidy: In order to promote solutions that are well-suited to the local context, the active involvement of local parties is required for Dutch companies, knowledge institutions, and NGOs when they are granted a subsidy for a feasibility study or pilot project.
  • Theory U: Starting with open dialogue, listening and observing to understand the local dynamics forms the foundation for community-supported solutions. That’s why we integrate the practices of Theory U across all our activities, prioritising active listening, observation and the suspension of judgment.
  • Co-creation: We are committed to stimulating inclusive, tailored and locally embedded solutions by promoting co-creation among multidisciplinary teams, local stakeholders and both private and public local parties.


  • Community of Practice: Together with Deltares, we started a Community of Practice in 2019. The community is made up of a diverse group of individuals from companies, knowledge institutions, NGOs and governmental organisations. All of them are committed to learning about social inclusion, sharing analyses and experiences, advising each other, developing improved practices and passing on the results to the global water sector.
  • Knowledge sharing: We monitor and share insights and lessons learned from our initiatives across the Partners for Water community and our international collaborators.
  • Events: We regularly organise events and side events focused on promoting social inclusion and exchanging lessons learned and experiences throughout the global water sector, such as the  ‘Social Inclusion in Water and Climate Adaptation – Making a Transformation’ event.

How you can get involved

Whether you’re currently working on a project that addresses water security abroad, you want to deepen your understanding of social inclusion, or are simply interested in participating in the Partners for Water initiatives – here are ways for you to get involved:

  • Apply for our tenders focused on innovative solutions in the delta countries we partner with. Find more information here.
  • Join our events and become an active participant in our event’s workshops and deep dives.
  • Follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on our tenders, activities, events and project
  • Join the Community of Practice
  • Apply for the Partners for Water subsidy. Explore whether you are eligible.
  • Get in touch with our Project Advisor for Social Inclusion: Matthijs Zijlmans

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