The Bangladesh platform meeting held in The Hague on 2 April 2024 brought together 36 water experts from various sectors to discuss breaking the Build-Neglect-Rebuild (BNR) cycle in Bangladesh. The meeting explored the root causes of the cycle, including issues such as insufficient operation and maintenance (O&M) funding, delayed emergency responses, lack of asset management systems, and inadequate sediment management. Participants emphasized the need for a systemic and holistic approach, involving both top-down and bottom-up strategies, to address these challenges. The meeting also highlighted the importance of private sector engagement, social inclusion, and sustainable financing in infrastructure projects.

Key Takeaways:

  • Holistic Approaches: Participants stressed the need for a systemic approach that integrates O&M with long-term strategies to break the BNR cycle effectively.
  • Community Involvement: Ownership and involvement of local communities were highlighted as crucial for successful water management projects.
  • Sustainable Financing: Sustainable financing models, including public-private partnerships and performance-based contracting, were emphasised to ensure long-term maintenance of infrastructure.
  • Social Inclusion: In order to break the BNR cycle and ensure sustainable and effective water management, it’s imperative to create local ownership by building on local knowledge and practices, facilitating inclusive decision-making processes, and engaging with communities in the long run.
  • Collective Efforts/Agenda: Tackling the BNR cycle requires collaboration among governments, civil society, and the private sector, with a focus on consensus-building and long-term planning

Participants in the meeting concluded that there is no ‘magic bullet’ solution and advocated for an agenda-driven dialogue and a long-term process involving all stakeholders to effectively tackle the challenges and move towards adaptive and inclusive asset management in Bangladesh.

If you are interested in finding out more about the dialogues and insights in this meeting, download the more detailed report through the link below.

Download the full report

Transboundary river management of nine international rivers, frequent cyclones, a 2,650 km shoreline, the dichotomy of water scarcity and abundance, salinisation of groundwater aquifers, and a lack of proper sanitation delineate the intricate water management challenges in Mozambique

These are compounded by the limited operational capacity and broad mandate of water institutes, financial mismanagement, 70% of the population residing in informal settlements, national conflicts, and reliance on funding and subsidies.

In The Hague, over 40 individuals from public and private organisations, knowledge institutions, and NGOs gathered to discuss the bilateral delta collaboration between the Netherlands and Mozambique, forging new connections and uncovering business opportunities in Mozambique’s water and climate sector.

Jaap Kroon from RVO, a project advisor for the Partners for Water programme remarked, “It’s been a while since our last water sector meeting, and given the turnout, it was time to organise another. I’m happy to see everyone here.”

As the world evolves, so do the challenges

The Netherlands’ enduring cooperation with Mozambique started nearly 50 years ago after the independence of the country. Water has been a main topic of the cooperation. The delta cooperation focuses on the coastal city of Beira and aims to make Beira a climate-resilient city and enhance the well-being of its inhabitants. As the world evolves, so do the challenges. Ivo van Haren from the Dutch Embassy in Maputo shared, “Our current policy, ‘doing what we know best,’ focuses on a smaller area for greater efficiency. We’re targeting water and food security programmes, seeking synergies and collaborating across sectors and with donors to address Mozambique’s complex issues.”

Challenges in Mozambique encompass frequent policy shifts, economic fluctuations, climate change impacts like cyclones and floods, financial mismanagement, and water resource management issues, including transboundary water coordination and infrastructure capacity. Coastal protection and institutional capacity are also significant concerns, alongside the financial sustainability of water and sanitation systems.

Delta cooperation since 2011

Since 2011, the Netherlands has engaged in various projects through the delta cooperation, focusing on water governance, drainage systems, coastal protection, and social inclusion. The impact of climate change, particularly the increased risk of cyclones and the aftermath of cyclone Idai in 2019, has catalysed significant developments.

Real-world impact and co-creation

Maarten Gischler, delta coordinator and senior water advisor at BZ, reflected on the cooperation journey, highlighting the shift from isolated projects to a more integrated approach in Beira, focusing on real-world impacts and co-creation with the local government institutions and communities.

“In the Netherlands, we live in a world of master plans, feasibility studies and projects. People in Beira, especially the poorer people that are inexistent on any map or registered in any administration, live in the real world. A world in which they sleep on the table during territorial rains. During the past thirteen years of the partnership with Mozambique, and specifically with Beira, we have made progress in ensuring that 250,000 individuals will sleep safely during severe weather events. But assembling the puzzle piece by piece with governments, businesses, NGOs, and the local community has refined our approach to working with and for the people of Beira. It’s about co-creating with and for people. Ultimately, our work is about people. And that is something we should remind ourselves of every day.”

It’s about usage, not about quality

The Beira Masterplan, criticised for being more of a “shopping list” than a strategic guide, underscores the need for a coherent strategy that aligns various initiatives. “The shopping list has been on the table for the last 13 years. So it’s not in the quality of the plan, but in the use of the plan that makes it relevant.”


200 million dollars of new water infrastructure

The city of Beira, comparable in size to Rotterdam, faces the challenge of operating and maintaining new water infrastructure worth 200 million dollars in the coming 3 years, with a municipal annual budget of 0.3% of Rotterdam’s annual budget. Community involvement in climate change awareness, maintaining drainage systems, and financial sustainability through improved local revenue generation are crucial in sustainable development of these infrastructures.

Focus points Delta cooperation in Beira

Summarising, the main focus points of the Netherlands-Mozambique cooperation in Beira have been:

  • Climate resilience: Enhancing the city’s resilience to climate change, particularly in preparing for and responding to cyclones and flooding.
  • Water governance: Improving water management systems, including drainage, to prevent flooding and ensure sustainable water use.
  • Social inclusion: Engaging local communities in the maintenance and decision-making processes related to urban infrastructure, ensuring that interventions are inclusive and beneficial to all, especially the marginalised informal sector.
  • Nature-based Solutions (NBS): Implementing NBS for coastal protection and urban water management, favouring ecological solutions over traditional concrete barriers.
  • Capacity building: Strengthening local institutions and building the capacity of local actors to manage and sustain the implemented projects.
    Financial sustainability: Enhancing local revenue generation mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of infrastructure investments and maintenance.

Promising opportunities for future cooperation

Some promising opportunities for future cooperation and business can be found in:

  • Integrated planning: Ensuring that all interventions are part of an integrated master plan that is realistic, strategic, and adaptable to changing circumstances. This plan should bridge the gap between formal and informal sectors and consider the city’s overall ecological and socio-economic context.
  • Community engagement: Deepening community involvement not just in implementation but also in planning and decision-making processes. This can enhance the sense of ownership and ensure that projects are more attuned to the needs of the residents.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Establishing robust mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the impact of various projects. This can provide valuable feedback, allow for course corrections, and ensure that the initiatives deliver the intended benefits.
  • Financial models: Developing innovative financial models that can support the sustainability of infrastructure projects, including exploring public-private partnerships, microfinancing, and other funding mechanisms.
  • Knowledge sharing: Facilitating the exchange of knowledge and best practices not only within Mozambique but also with other countries facing similar challenges. This can foster innovation and provide new insights into effective climate resilience strategies.
  • Scalability and replication: Ensuring that successful projects are scalable and replicable in other parts of Mozambique and similar contexts, thereby maximising the impact of the cooperation

In the last session ‘round table discussion on opportunities for the Dutch water sector’, many of the participants shared their experiences on several of the issues that were discussed at the Mozambique water sector meeting, mainly on working with local communities and private sector. During lunch many of the discussions continued and information on each other’s activities in Mozambique were shared and opportunities for collaboration were explored.

Contribute with help of the Partners for Water subsidy scheme

Do you want to contribute to a climate resilient and sustainable Mozambique? And do you have an innovative technology, methodology or an innovative prototype in the field of water management? It can be challenging to independently introduce and market innovative water applications abroad. Partners for Water – Innovations for Water Security Foreign Deltas, Delta Cities and River Basins (PVW-IVWW) is a grant scheme that offers participants the opportunity to research the feasibility of their innovative applications abroad as well as to test and modify them.

Interested in the Partners for Water subsidy scheme? You are encouraged to apply from July 2024 to explore funding opportunities.

What’s happening now and what’s next for Dutch-Indonesian water cooperation? Hosted by Partners for Water, over fifty professionals came together on 26 October during the Dutch-Indonesian Platform Meeting in The Hague.

Attendees, consisting of individuals from knowledge institutions, private-, governmental- and non-governmental organisations, exchanged their ambitions, priorities and opportunities for water initiatives between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Discover their main take-aways.

“What are your aspirations for the Dutch water sector in Indonesia?” asks Lisa Hartog, Delta Coordinator for Indonesia at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management while kicking off the Indonesian platform meeting. With enthusiasm she goes on saying, “Today’s focus is to connect, explore and strengthen the long-term collaboration between the two countries in the water sector.”

She invites the participants to brainstorm on their ambitions, lessons learned and opportunities during engaging breakout sessions. These brainstorm sessions are part of a broader study aimed at identifying the sector’s prospects in Indonesia and explore the best ways the Dutch government can assist in this. The room quickly divides into four groups, with participants actively joining in on lively discussions.

© Feike Faase Fotografie

“What I took away from today is that understanding the local culture might be more key to implementing water solutions than knowing the relevant technologies.” – participant brainstorm

Capacity is already high within the communities and local governments in Indonesia when it comes to water management. I think it’s important not to focus on building capacity, but rather on strengthening it.

Participant Brainstorm

Current projects in Indonesia

To explore the current role of the Dutch water sector in Indonesia, various ongoing projects are highlighted. Simon Van Meijeren, from Partners for Water, along with Trang Vu and Bas van Maren – both working for the Dutch consortium Ecoshape, discuss recent initiatives in Indonesia, funded by Partners for Water. “It is crucial to adopt an integrated view of the water problems in Indonesia,” van Meijeren states. “We try to do this through high-level strategic dialogues, co-creating solutions with local communities and improving inter-agency collaborations.” Vu and van Maren wholeheartedly concur. As the audience listens intently, they eagerly share their insights from a scoping mission in Sidoarjo, led by the Ecoshape consortium.

© Feike Faase Fotografie

The scoping mission’s objective was to assess the potential of implementing Nature-based Solutions (NBS) to enhance local aquaculture. Van Maren elaborates: “Initially, the focus was on milkfish- and shrimp yield and water quality, but it became clear that regional degradation of the physical system was a significant aspect of the problem.” Vu continues, “While various NBS appear feasible from a physical standpoint, their economic viability remains to be explored.” The Ecoshape consortium aims to integrate the lessons learned from this mission into future NBS project designs.

Curious to discover the results, lessons learned and recommended solutions? Find all the details in the scoping mission’s report provided below this article.

The polyculture of milkfish and shrimp is deeply ingrained in the culture of Sidarjo. It’s not merely a practice that can be replaced just for convenience.


Trang Vu

Young professionals

Delving further into Sidoarjo, two young professionals recount their former study experiences in this Indonesian coastal city. Joey de Hamer, currently with the Netherlands Red Cross, elaborates about his thesis study on the social impacts of the Sidoarjo mud volcano. This volcano has spewed hot mud continuously since 2006, displacing tens of thousands of residents and causing significant environmental and infrastructural damage. De Hamer comments, “While the ecological impacts of the mud volcano were broadly recognised, I found it enlightening to learn about the experiences and challenges faced by the nearby residents.”

© Feike Faase Fotografie

Meanwhile, Ardiyanti Cahyan, currently at Boskalis, shares her past internship which focused on water management at the Port of Teluk Lamong. Cahyan remarkes, “Being on-site allowed me to truly connect with and better understand the local issues.” Her take-home message? The importance of experiencing the local context for a more profound understanding of the problems at hand.

Change takes time

Straight after his arrival for a work visit to the Netherlands, Adriaan Palm, Deputy Head of Mission at the Dutch Embassy in Indonesia, succinctly summarises the event: “I think we all agree on the significance of engaging the local community to ensure project sustainability. Additionally, I’d like to recognise the value of collaborating with students and emerging professionals. And lastly, change is a gradual process. So, I encourage you to give yourself that time.” As the attendees shift towards the facilitated networking lunch, fresh perspectives and emerging ideas on today’s themes echo amid the lively chatter. While change may take time, the attendees sure don’t waste it.

Keen to keep the conversation going? You are invited to share your thoughts, ambitions or anything else you’d like to discuss with our core team working on the bilateral water cooperation with Indonesia. You can find the team’s contact details in the sidebar.

Results of the study of the ambitions of the Dutch water sector within Indonesia

Below you can find an infographic that highlights the key outcomes of the study that investigated the ambitions of the Dutch water sector within Indonesia. The study consisted of an online questionnaire complemented by focus group interviews conducted at the annual Indonesian Platform meeting in October 2023. The study was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

If you have any questions regarding the outcomes of the survey you can contact Simon van Meijeren:

 Apply for the Partners for Water subsidy scheme

Do you have an innovative technology, methodology or prototype in the field of water management? And would you like to use your knowledge, expertise and ingenuity to enhance water security in Indonesia? Apply for the Partners for Water subsidy scheme!

The scheme is applicable to innovations in the field of WASH, water quality and availability, climate adaptation, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and water infrastructure.

The following subsidy round opens in July. Apply for the mandatory intake interview now.

Learn more about the Partners for Water subsidy scheme

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