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Published on: 11/05/2023

IRC was informed yesterday of the passing of Dick de Jong, our previous communications & advocacy director

Dick, who retired in 2012, served IRC and the global water and sanitation community for over 30 years. One and a half years ago, he was diagnosed with PMSA (Progressive spinal muscular atrophy), which forced him to relocate from his beloved Amsterdam – a place that he had, over the years, shared with hundreds of IRC guests on his famous guided tours.  Despite his illness his passing came suddenly and unexpectedly.

Dick was among the first students to graduate from the School of Journalism in Utrecht. After working for UNICEF in Bangladesh, where his daughter Mirjam was born, Dick joined IRC in 1982 as a public information officer.  Thousands of people in the water and sanitation world knew Dick as the author of IRC’s Source family of newsletters.

In an interview to mark IRC’s 50th anniversary, Dick recalled how working on IRC’s seminal ‘Seventh video’, was one of his best IRC experiences. ‘It was in 1999 when Ton Schouten, originally a documentary filmmaker, joined us … We worked in the studio, bouncing back and forth between scenes of the video for two full days.…The most important message is that governments, donors and NGOs need to listen to communities and respond to what they need in order to come up with meaningful programmes.”

For decades, Dick was the face of IRC, and to those visiting our office, the first person to welcome them to the organisation.

On a personal level, Dick had a great passion for history, especially Dutch-Indian heritage, cricket, literature, the art of Marius Bauer and jazz music.

Dick had a great energy and love for travel and gladly told stories about countries such as India, Bangladesh and many others he visited even after retirement.

After his retirement in 2012, Dick remained a passionate WASH advocate, which earned him a place in Mina Guli's 2022 list of WASH Champions. He also dedicated himself to volunteering in his neighbourhood in Amsterdam, and to being a granddad.

Dick’s funeral will take place next week in Haarlem. Our thoughts go out to Dick’s daughter, the wider family and his network of friends and contacts.

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