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Published on: 09/04/2021

IRC has been organising the Ton Schouten Award for WASH Storytelling since 2017, in memory of Ton who worked with IRC for 17 years and was a passionate WASH storyteller, filmmaker and a mentor to those he worked with. The Ton Schouten Award for WASH Storytelling aims to combine all these elements by targeting a specific group of young communicators (35 years of age or younger) within the WASH sector in low- and middle-income countries.

In times of COVID-19, the way and the intensity in which we communicate has changed and telling stories and driving positive change through them is more important than ever. IRC is looking to support young communicators through the Ton Schouten Award for WASH Storytelling to do this. 

The awardee will receive a cash prize of €2,500 to support them in pursuing their development in communications, to be invested for example, in new processing software, audiovisual materials, courses, new initiatives etc. They will also receive mentoring support from IRC during the year, and, where applicable, be invited to spend time with IRC staff in the most convenient location. Be inspired by previous awardees, such as Srilekha Chakraborty who has continued sparking change online through the power of storytelling during pandemic lockdowns, Kenneth Kavulu from Uganda who has set up his own NGO after winning the award or Mayuri Bhattacharjee from India who has invested her prize in creating her own podcast series

Film making project in India, facilitated by Srilekha Chakraborty - our 2020 awardee

Eligibility requirements, application and award details

Applications are open for young professionals (over the age of 18 and under 35) and those who:

  1. Come from and are working in a low- or middle-income country.
  2. Are dedicated to storytelling within the WASH sector. (Note that your job title - if employed - and description does not need to be one of a communication specialist. We believe that telling good stories happens in multiple ways and through different roles.) 
  3. Have a portfolio of WASH related communication products (e.g. blog, a video, cartoon, poster, podcast).

During the year in which the awardee is a beneficiary of the award she or he will be asked to complete the following activities:

  1. At least two pieces of communication produced about WASH during the year. This can be a blog, a video, cartoon, poster, podcast. It should, however, be of a publishable standard. (IRC will support with some expert assistance if required.)
  2. Ideally attend at least one event towards the end of the year of the award to speak about the award and what they have been able to achieve with it. Appropriate events can be identified in conjunction with the awardee.
  3. A final piece of communication summing up the year as awardee and any effect it has had on the career/work.
What to do?

Submit your application or nomination by 7 May 2021 to with the following information:

  1. Name of the nominee
  2. Country of the nominee
  3. Age of the nominee
  4. Language(s) of the nominee
  5. Relationship with IRC (if any) - Current IRC staff members and their families are not eligible to apply
  6. Name of the nominator (if applicable)
  7. Communications portfolio: Notable WASH related communications highlights – links to online media / scans of print articles
  8. Optional: A short plan on what you would like to create, purchase or invest your award prize in
  9. If nominated: A short paragraph on why you think this person is a deserving winner and how the prize would help this person's development as a WASH storyteller
  10. If individual applicant: A short motivation statement including why you think you are a deserving winner and how the prize would help your development as a WASH storyteller
  11. Whether a person was nominated or applies individually will not have any influence on the application outcomes
  12. For more information check the terms and conditions and the application guidelines linked to this news item. If others are featured in your communications materials, please ensure that you are in compliance with GDPR.
Who will help us select a winner?

Meet our selection committee from within and beyond the WASH sector:

Dave Trouba David Trouba has extensive experience in multi-channel communications strategy development and implementation, stakeholder engagement, media relations, public affairs and brand management. He has more than than 29 years of professional working experience, including more than 20 years at the senior level for at the World Health Organization, United Nations Office for Project Services, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Stockholm International Water Institute, and Water Environment Federation. Born and raised in Nebraska, USA; he has lived in Washington, DC; Stockholm, Sweden; and Geneva, Switzerland. He is currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, with his wife, and is engaged in sustainability communications for private and public sector clients. 

Liduin Schouten Liduin Schouten is Ton's youngest sister. "There was an age difference of 8 years between us, but it didn't matter, we got along very well. I still miss him every day. I have 3 daughters, live in Utrecht and work as a customer service representative at Dille & Kamille, a retail company that makes and sells beautiful products based on sustainability and care for the world. I really enjoy it there because of the contacts with customers from the Netherlands, France, Germany or anywhere in the world. We even have customers in Japan and the USA. Watching movies, reading and walking in nature are things I love to do, especially in my favourite country Italy. I even learned to speak Italian. Ton and I had plans to walk near his house in the Cévennes, but we unfortunately never did. I will definitely do that once and then he will just walk with me. I also write a lot, which gives room to my thoughts that go through my mind about everything that happens in life. I am honoured to sit on this committee, which originated from the thinking of my big brother Ton and I hope to contribute to it with him in mind.

Jane Nabunnya Mulumba Jane Nabunnya Mulumba is the Country Director of IRC Uganda. Jane is in charge of IRC's sector engagements and partnerships, national and decentralised WASH Systems strengthening, policy development and organisational and operational leadership and management of the Country Programme. She has worked in the Water and Environment sector for over 15 years, beginning with the Nile Basin Initiative as the National Coordinator for the Confidence Building and Stakeholders Initiative, followed by IRC's Sustainable Services at Scale (Triple-S) initiative as Country Coordinator. Jane is a Public Health Leadership, Public Policy and Management and Communication expert with over 20 years of experience in district, national, inter-governmental and international institutions. For 7 years, Jane was the National Coordinator for the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and co-led the piloting of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund in Uganda. Ton Schouten was a good man. He was a humble, respectful, calm, motivating and fun filled friend, very easy to talk to and confide in. An excellent communicator who preferred simple and yet complex and modern ways of delivering messages.

Nick BurnNick Burn has spent the last 11 years working for Water For People, supporting ways of creating environments for lasting WASH services. This is a passion he shared with Ton, and with whom it was always a pleasure to collaborate, mostly because of Ton's fierce determination and joy in bringing people together to solve problems.


Interested in finding out more about Ton's legacy and the history of the award? Check out this page. You can start by watching his Seventh Video on Community Water Supply Management.

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