Without access to water and sanitation, basic precautions like handwashing are major challenges in parts of the developing world, writes Henk Ovink, a UN water-access official
Henk Ovink has an unusual role: water ambassador. Appointed by the Netherlands, he travels the world advising vulnerable places, including the U.S., on how to invest in flood prevention before storms hit. One such “Dutch solution” in Rotterdam cost over $500 million in 1997.
Henk Ovink and the Netherlands advocate multi-function approaches to storm and flood mitigation--a world class rowing facility doubles as a flood reservoir; a basketball court can hold almost 450K gallons of rainwater; man-made dunes on a beach house a parking garage.
A project including Dutch-inspired designs to prevent storm damage and flooding for Hoboken, Weehawken and Jersey City, NJ is set to break ground next year. It could be the first big test for Henk Ovink’s vision in the United States.
Henk Ovink was an advisor to President Obama’s task force after Hurricane Sandy. In that role, he helped develop Rebuild by Design, a competition awarding almost $1 billion for innovative solutions in the region--to rebuild with a Dutch philosophy: for the future.