Dieneke van der Wijk wraps up Simavi’s 2022: the water crisis on centre stage

Article: 22.12.22, Sri Lanka, Dieneke van der Wijk

What a special year it has been! And I’m not saying this because earlier today some wild elephants crossed my path. In case you are wondering: I’m spending Christmas in Sri Lanka, the country where I have worked and lived for so long. No, I’m saying this because 2022 was my first year as a director of Simavi. And what a great journey it has been so far.

A warm welcome

The warm welcome. Getting to know our partners in Africa and Asia. Being part of an organisation that is so ambitious and willing to learn. Meeting our committed donors. I can’t believe all the things we have accomplished together this year. Supporting so many women and girls to fight for their rights to water and sanitation, successfully raising awareness about the water crisis and gender inequality, influencing government policies in the Netherlands and beyond. I am proud of Simavi's work!

Year with many crises

Of course, it has also been a difficult year. Many of us will remember 2022 for the war in Ukraine and the many other conflicts that still terrorise the world. With severe energy and food crises as a result. And let’s not forget about the climate crisis and the huge impact on the access to water and sanitation for millions of women and girls in Africa and Asia. I am specifically thinking of the photos I received from our Kenyan colleagues showing the terrible consequences of the drought. Or the stories about the floods in Bangladesh. It highlights the urgency of our work and strengthens our determination to fight for climate justice, gender equality and water and sanitation for all.

Starting 2022 with water and ending with justice

That’s why Simavi started the Water Wake-Up Call in March, why we invited Dutch Members of Parliament to our Water Cocktail Bar and why we participated in the Climate March in Rotterdam. That’s also why in August we went to the World Water Week in Stockholm and invited our strategic partner Sareen Malik from ANEW to join us. In October, together with Cinetree, we organised the very successful third edition of HER Film Festival. Not only online, but also with screenings in several cinema’s, including the Tuschinski theatre in Amsterdam.

At the same time we have been working very hard on our new flagship programmes, the Water Justice Fund and Connect4Wash. These programmes are all about locally-led solutions for water and sanitation and climate adaptation. We need to find new ways to provide women and girls with the funds they need and make sure they take the driving seat. Our ambition is to find ways to scale these solutions and share them for bigger impact.

2023 will be an important year

I look forward to 2023 which will be an important year for Simavi. We will continue implementing our new strategy to overcome barriers for women and girls to claim their human rights to water and sanitation. Maybe some wild elephants will cross our path, but that’s okay. Let’s welcome them and make them part of our journey.

Dieneke van der Wijk, director Simavi

Esther Oeganda

Everbody has the human right to safe water and sanitation.

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