Donor visits: Dutch Embassy and VOx-Impuls

At the beginning of February, VOx Impuls - a Dutch family foundation- visited a Max-WASH model sanitation village in the north of Bangladesh. Max Foundation joined them, together with colleagues from the Dutch NGO Woord & Daad and the Bangladeshi NGO CSS.

VOx Impuls supports our ‘Social business entrepreneurs piped water project’ in the north-west of Bangladesh and was visiting Bangladesh to get a better understanding of various projects and approaches. On Wednesday the 8th of February, Max Foundation and VOx Impuls travelled together to Pathuakali District in the South of Bangladesh, where we showed them different elements of the Max-WASH approach. One of the great successes which we showed is the ‘model healthy village’.

This village has a hundred percent sanitation coverage, which means that everybody in the village has a toilet. A driving force behind this model village is strong community awareness of the importance of good sanitation facilities. ‘All villagers are aware that if only one household does not have a toilet, the whole village runs the risk of becoming ill because faeces lie out in the open’, says Kaat Burbidge. ‘This awareness even prompted rich people in the village to support their poorer villagers with the purchase of a toilet.’ Burbidge also stresses the important role of the chairwoman of the community support group. ’This woman is a really strong entrepreneur who identifies changes, such as the maxi basins and who managed to get the whole village into buying a toilet.’ 

The group also visited a sanitation entrepreneur. According to Burbidge, it was impressive to see how well this entrepreneur is doing business: ‘This entrepreneur uses sales agents in order to create a demand for toilets in the villages. This really works out very well.’ Delegates from VOx-Impuls were impressed by the project and attracted by its entrepreneurial character. After their visit, Max Foundation, Woord & Daad and CSS received green light for VOx Impuls support for the Max WASH project on ‘Accelerating sustainable WASH services through Entrepreneurship Strengthening’.

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From 7-9 March, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) visited some of our programmes in southern Bangladesh. After the visit, delegates from our major donors were much more convinced of our integrated Max-WASH approach.

During their field trip, Peter de Vries (Thematic Expert of Water Management EKN) and Anna-Eva Thaidens (Financial Advisor at EKN) were accompanied by Joke le Poole (Director of Max Foundation), Riad Mahmud (Director of Max Foundation Bangladesh) and three staff members from Max Foundation Bangladesh.

On the first day, the group visited two Blue Gold programmes in the Patuakali district. For the EKN delegates, it was interesting to see how the two programmes are linked to each other, serving the same communities from a different perspective: hydrology and community management.

The next day, we visited a piped water scheme. Although this scheme has only been operational for half a year, the group was impressed to see that the community has made a significant investment in sinks, showers and water taps. The community demonstrated tests with water meters to transfer from a system of paying a fixed amount per month to payment based on water usage.

On the final day, we visited a successful sanitation entrepreneur. Following training from Max Foundation and the World Bank, this entrepreneur managed to open three shops and now has 20 sales agents working for him.

Throughout the trip, additional funding opportunities and management procedures were discussed. At the start of the journey, EKN delegates were not entirely convinced of the interconnection between the various Max-WASH elements. It was great to see how the field journey improved their understanding of our Max-WASH approach.

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