17 May 2012

Dutch water expertise does not apply

I've had some interesting discussions about Dutch water management, in which one theme persists:
Why don't others listen to the Dutch about water management?
I've got three reasons:
  1. The Dutch have been learning how to manage water -- and cooperate (via the Polder model) for 500+ years. You can't export those institutions.
  2. The Dutch have to manage TOO MUCH water. Most parts of the world suffer from scarcity (an end of abundance), not surplus.
  3. Dutch solutions are built to last for 50-100 years (or longer), which makes them expensive to people used to short run thinking (the US, developing countries) instead of investing in durable quality.
These characteristics are virtues in Holland but handicaps abroad. I am not sure if the Dutch should market "Holland-lite," but they certainly need to take these factors into account.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

In addition, water managers always think they know better. They are not good in listening.

Read Leon Hermans' PhD thesis here [PDF]

A Dutcher said...

I agree with some of your perspectives on exportability of Dutch expertise. That said, they won’t stop trying.

Anonymous said...

There are dikes and levies. Levies like in New Orleans. A barrier of probably construction debries about six ft high or a 12 inch wide 10 ft tall concrete wall do not hold water back when needed. A 30 ft high dike with a base that is probably 100 ft wide WILL hold water back when needed. There is a cheap solution plus the prayers a hurricane will not hit in the same area or there is a permanent solution. In the US one tends to go for the cheap solution.