For the third consecutive year, Akvo’s involved with the toilet blocks at the De Parade theatre festival in the Netherlands. The Parade’s a major summertime event that stages through four Dutch cities – Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam – attracting at least 350,000 visitors. Last year’s events raised some €30,000 for water and toilet projects in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Photo: In a break from editing the Akvopedia, Akvo’s Mark Westra helps put together the GIVASHIT toilet block. Utrecht, Netherlands. 16 July 2010 (by Luuk Diphoorn).

Having already visited The Hague and Rotterdam, the third stage of the 2010 Parade opens today in the city of Utrecht. We’re expecting more than 100,000 people to pass through the toilets over the next two weeks.

This year’s toilets look especially cool, and we’re more involved than ever – the concept’s been completely refreshed by the creative team at our partner Get it Done, founded by Dutch actress Hanna Verboom. Visitors to the toilet are challenged to “GIVASHIT” and make a donation when they go to the toilet. The money goes to water and sanitation projects in the developing world, and donors can follow project progress online.

One €6,000 sanitation project in Ethiopia has already already been funded through The Hague and Rotterdam events and the toilets are now geared to raise money for another. Six projects are being funded under the concept of Givashit including these projects in Akvo:

Water for Mugeyo. Muhanga, Rwanda

TRIANGLE project, Nuba Mountains, Sudan

Drinking water supply for Sorido, Papua province, Indonesia

The other projects are hosted on the Get it Done site here

Bold creative concept

This year’s De Parade has a really bold new GIVASHIT theme. “We wanted to express the idea that people can give a shit, while they do so,” explains Marten van Gils, from Get it Done who worked closely with Akvo to create a tight theme and narrative. “We started the concept by imagining that people could flush their money down the toilet and it would go to real toilet projects. Technically that wasn’t feasible, so instead you throw money into a toilet outside.”


Photo: The GIVASHIT donation box (under construction). De Parade, Utrecht, Netherlands. 16 July 2010.

“We knew that the most attention we can generate was when people are actually giving a shit – that half a minute,” explains van Gils. As people enter the toilets they can see a visual timeline dating from 1700 BC, that highlights fun water and sanitation facts through the ages. It’s the latest campaign to benefit from our “QR” (Quick Response) tags. Each toilet cubicle features one project on a huge poster, including a QR tag that allows you to snap it on a mobile phone and see the project online today, and in the future. “The poster tells how you can help this problem, if only you give a shit.” The timeline ends in 2011, with the conclusion of the project you’ve helped to fund.

Martin reports that donations are 20-25% higher than they have been in previous years.

Update: See our video run through of the concept here.


Photo: The completed toilet block. 16 July 2010. (by Kathelyne van den Berg)

You can read our blogs about the 2009 and 2008 events here.

Mark Charmer is co-founder of Akvo.