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Published on: 29/03/2022

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 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.

The world is facing many big problems, among them reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, and IRC believes that working together is the only way to solve these problems. We are reaching out to young climate and water activists to join hands for a more inclusive and equitable future. Are you such an activist and communicator? Is it your passion to motivate people by telling inspiring stories or to raise awareness through thought-provoking videos, podcasts or other forms of communication? We would like to support you in your work through the Ton Schouten Award.

As an award winner you will receive a cash prize of €2,500 to support you in your activities around communications. You can invest the award money, for example, in new software, audiovisual materials, courses, new initiatives etc. You 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 for you.

Be inspired by previous awardees, such as Srilekha Chakraborty from India who has continued sparking change online through the power of storytelling during pandemic lockdowns and being a panellist at our post-COP activists connect event or Kenneth Kavulu from Uganda who has set up his own NGO after winning the award.

WASH united school event in Banfora district

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 6 May 2022 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 members from within and beyond the WASH sector:

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. 


Alida PhamAlida Pham has been leading the 2030 Water Resources Group Multi-Donor Trust Fund since 2014, managing internal and external communications and advocacy since 2014. The trust fund is currently hosted by the World Bank Group's Water Global Practice since 2018 and aims to catalyse public-private sector partnerships for investments in the area of water security. The programme has mobilised nearly 1 billion dollars in co-financing to date and operates in 14 different country programmes across the globe. As a communications professional with over 15 years of experience in international development, she worked as the Communications Manager for the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands. She also worked as Communications Officer for the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and prior to that for the UNESCO Bangkok Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok, Thailand. She studied print journalism at Fontys University in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and briefly worked as a journalist for the Bangkok Post where she started her career.


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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