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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
14 juni 2008

Dutch primary school wins dam for Afghanistan

The money is awarded by Intergas, a utility company based in the south of the Netherlands which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. General director Robert van Mourik says utility companies such as Intergas have a special position in society. “We asked all primary schools in our region to send us an elaborated plan for a community cause in a country with which the school maintains bonds of friendship. I never have dreamed we would end up in Afghanistan!”

Intergas received 23 proposals from different schools and “the quality was surprisingly good”, says Van Mourik. Many schools asked specialised NGOs or companies to assist them. Among the criteria for judgement were feasibility and costs. Van Mourik: “We from Intergas had a slight preference for energy-related plans, but that was not a criterion.” Merijntjes plan was also evaluated by the famous Dutch consultancy RoyalHaskoning, which could discover no major flaws. The dam in Badjeh will protect the people from yearly inundations in the Spring, when melting water rushes down the mountain slopes. The collected water will be used for irrigation of arable lands and will also be able to deliver electricity for the village: 80 per cent of the Afghans still have no access to electricity.

EUR 250,000 is almost enough to construct the dam. Van Mourik: “Manual labour is very cheap in Afghanistan. But additional money is needed to build an electricity grid from the dam to the village.” If preparations in Afghanistan go as expected, building will start in the spring of 2009. It will take 7 months to build the dam. In order to avoid beginner’s errors, Intergas will be working in close cooperation with Dutch development organisation Cordaid.

Merijntje is named after a famous Dutch Childrens book: Merijntje Gijzen, written by A.M. de Jong. The poor boy Merijntje lived in Nieuw-Vossemeer.P+ webtip: Pictures of the schoolmasters trip to Afghanistan

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