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Published on: 24/11/2014

Last week Minister Ploumen received a letter signed by nearly twenty water NGOs and the association of water companies (vereniging van waterbedrijven). In this letter the sector organisations make an appeal to her to stop diluting the ambitions in the field of water and sanitation.

The Netherlands prides itself in its water ambitions. All over the world Dutch companies, research institutions and NGOs are active in this area. They give advice in the field of water policy, install water systems and treatment plants, or help water companies to operate more efficiently and more customer oriented. Dutch water management has gained international admiration. The OECD recently reviewed the state of Dutch water management and needed a magnifying glass, so to speak, to find points for improvement. It is therefore not surprising that water has been an important focus area in Dutch development cooperation. Dutch expertise can make a contribution in solving major global problems related to access to safe drinking water and sanitary facilities.

In spite of all the ambitions, we see a negative trend in the hard targets that The Netherlands is setting. The last few years the target for the number of people that will get access to clean drinking water through Dutch development cooperation has been adjusted downwards.

Table 1: Number of people The Netherlands will provide access to clean and safe drinking water


Number of people The Netherlands will provide access to clean and safe drinking water



50 million



40,68 million



40,68 million



33,38 million


In 2004 the Netherlands formulated the ambition to provide 50 million people with drinking water by 2015. Based on achievements so far (15.68 million in 2004-2010), the previous government decided in early 2012 to revise the target for the period 2011-2015 downwards to 40.68 million people. In 2013, it was concluded that the water target would not be reached until 2017-2018, "due to long start-up times of new programmes and budget cuts". The 2014 published report 'progress on priority themes Development 2013' paints a bleaker picture. Cumulatively, not 50 million, but only 33.38 million people will be reached. And only in 2018 instead of 2015.

We understand that the many cuts in the budget for development cooperation, also affect the flow to WASH. Nevertheless, we call on the Minister not to further dilute the ambition with regard to drinking water and sanitation, but rather to push for efforts that are consistent with the knowledge, experience and reputation of the Dutch water sector.

Please find the Dutch letter to Minister Ploumen in the dowloads below, and the Dutch version of this blog in the Dutch section of IRC's website. 


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