Column CEO: Drink water, give life!

Written by: Agnes Kroese, CEO of Dorcas

From all sides, women and children come running. By their side, a donkey with empty jerry cans. I am in Yemen. This mountain village depends on only one well. And this well only works when there is electricity. On average, this is maximum one hour per day. On average, because the last time the water pump worked was over two days ago. By now, all the jerry cans have been emptied to the last drops. No wonder everyone rushes to the water pump now that there is electricity for a moment. Water is literally vital in this parched area.

Yemen is located in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula. It is a beautiful country with a rich culture. The Romans called Yemen ‘Arabia Felix’, Happy Arabia. Nowadays, Happy Arabia is hard to find. These days, we mainly know Yemen for the armed conflicts and the humanitarian crisis.


Due to these problems, Yemenis have fled massively. Many have been living in camps for years, both inside and outside the borders. I was in one of these camps: a barren, open plain. There was no water to be seen in the wide surroundings. When I asked for drinking water, one of the women showed me a jerry can. The water inside smelled and was clearly heavily contaminated.

One in four

Unfortunately, the water problems in Yemen are not unique. Worldwide, as many as one in four people lack access to clean drinking water. With serious consequences: people suffer from thirst daily, become ill, and get diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid. Due to climate change, the water problem is likely to only worsen in the future.

Bright spots

It could make you feel hopeless, but fortunately, during my visit, I also see bright spots. Like the extra wells we dig and the latrines being built. Or the installation of solar panels, so that existing wells can be betters. But above all, the sparkle in people’s eyes.

Water and life

The visit to Yemen makes an impression and has motivated me even more to participate in Actie Waterkracht (Water Power campaign). I take on the challenge of only drinking water from March 16th to 22nd. This means that I have to go a week without the refreshing cup of coffee in the morning. I also pass on the glass of soft drink at my niece’s birthday party. This way, I reflect on the people for whom a glass of water is already a luxury item. Especially during this Lenten season, the period of reflection in preparation for Easter.

Moreover, by drinking only water for a week, I save € 17.50. With this amount, Dorcas can provide one person with access to clean drinking water. So, we give water and life. For example, to the people in that mountain village in Yemen. That’s why I participate in Actie Waterkracht (Water Power campaign).

Agnes Kroes is CEO of Dorcas. Agnes:”I contribute with great dedication to our mission in creating opportunities for people and communities to flourish. One of the ways I do this is through a monthly column in Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad. In this column, I share insights from my professional experience at Dorcas. My aim is to inspire, inform and encourage readers to engage with Dorcas’ initiatives, campaigns, and projects.

09 March 2024

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