Nieuws - 23 maart 2012

High-level visit about water

Prince Willem-Alexander attended a World Water Day event in Wageningen on the evening of 22 March. In his capacity as UN-advisor for water issues, the prince addressed the problem of water scarcity faced by many countries and pleaded for water conservation in agriculture and waste water management.

Willem-Alexander, Ben Knapen and Aalt Dijkhuizen during the open discussion
The water dilemma is an agriculture dilemma,' said the prince. 'The world is thirsty because we are hungry.'
Ben Knappen, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, signed an agreement the same evening with the KNVB, represented by director Bert van Oostveen, national coach Bert van Marwijk and ex-players Ruud Gullit and Ruud Krol. Knapen will contribute 3.4 million euros each year in the next four years to a project by KNVB, Unicef, Simavi, Aqua for All and Vitens to provide toilets and clean drinking water to 1,100 schools in Kenya, Mozambique and Ghana. The KNVB will provide information on water usage and hygiene in its football schools in these countries, while the other partners will construct toilets and drinking water facilities. These private sector partners will also contribute 3.4 million euros to this sanitation project, which would eventually benefit 740,000 African children. Football will be the connecting factor, says Van Oostveen, as it gets things going in society.
State secretary Knapen has placed water as a key area this year. He explained again the restructured development aid policy in which his department will from now on play a supporting role for key Dutch sectors in a limited number of countries. The ministry will act as a matchmaker to link the Dutch farming and water sectors to developing countries so that economic growth can be generated there. 'Others have to be the prime movers; we offer a helping hand,' said Knapen.
The evening's programme was held in the Atlas building on campus. There was a three-course dinner interspersed with speeches from Aalt Dijkhuizen (the host), Prince Willem-Alexander, Van Oostveen and Knapen. Dijkhuizen highlighted the research work carried out by Wageningen into salt-tolerant crops, the marine farm in Zeeland and water conservation measures in horticulture greenhouses. 'More crop per drop' is the challenge, says Dijkhuizen. The evening ended with a panel discussion.