• Written by Mark Charmer
    22 March 2010

Walking with tens of thousands of schoolkids, joining the world’s longest toilet queue, and running a Flip-camera video studio in a toilet? Hey, that’s an average week in the Netherlands!

This morning I met with our team in The Hague to plan Akvo’s week ahead. See the video below to follow the discussion.

A quick summary of the key events, with links:

What’s World Water Day and what’s happening?

Today (22 March 2010) is World Water Day. A vast network of global events, held today and throughout this week, is aiming to raise awareness, and inspire action. This is great news – our goal is to help reduce dramatically the 1 billion plus people in the world who lack access to clean drinking water – and the 2 billion plus who lack adequate sanitation.

Assigning a particular day to water grew from the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio – the UN General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the day people would come together to highlight the importance of fresh water, the need to manage it sustainably and the problems people face around the world to gain access to it. You can download the UN’s latest goals on this topic here.

There are a couple of websites mashing together what’s happening where in the world using maps. The official site, run by UN Water, is here. It contains this map (hard to zoom in and around, unfortunately). This one by IRC’s Dick de Jong (who was a key interviewer in our team at the 2009 Stockholm World Water Cube), zooms well, though it only tags against Google Maps by country, and can’t unfortunately drill down further (making it hard to see the spread of events in, say, the United States). There are some useful World Water Day links and videos here at The Water Channel, too. If you come across any others, please tell me by posting a comment below.

So, what is Akvo doing this week?


Walking for Water

Walking for Water’s an amazing campaign to get schoolkids focused and engaged in the global water crisis. We’ll be in the middle of the action, following a couple of key walks on Wednesday in various parts of the Netherlands. Thousands of Dutch schoolkids will each carry water in backpacks to highlight the distance people must typically walk to fetch water (6 km!), while raising money for water projects from friends and family. The campaign has now fully implemented the Akvo system across all the projects it funds, meaning every single project is online and can receive updates through Akvo RSR – something we’re really excited about.


World’s Longest Toilet Queue

We’re also joining the World’s Longest Toilet Queue in Amsterdam. One of the organisers of the parallel London event is our partner PumpAid; – be sure to say hi to them if you join the London line.


World Water Day Netherlands

Akvo’s also helping to organise a major event in Amsterdam on Thursday featuring Dutch companies and NGOs such as Unicef and Aqua for All. To be attended by industry, government and “young people”, the afternoon portion will promote “international development 2.0 – let’s be inspired”.

I’ll be running a WaterCube.tv video studio with Luuk, in a toilet cubicle (yes, really). Sessions at the wider event will examine new ways of financing water projects, new ways to bring water issues to the attention of the world’s people and new ways of communicating the progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals, including highlighting the role Live Earth is playing.

Providing inspiration for Live Earth – April 18th

In fact all of the World Water Day activities around the world should help people draw inspiration to join the Dow Live Earth Run for Water, on 18 April. Live Earth’s today posted a nice media update, describing highlights from our partner network around the world.

Mark Charmer is a co-founder of Akvo.