Featured User (9) in February 2015 - Marijn Zandee from the Netherlands, living in Nepal

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Featured User (9) in February 2015 - Marijn Zandee from the Netherlands, living in Nepal



Dear All,

We have a new featured user to announce this month (the 9th one so far)... it's Marijn Zandee!

This is a continuation of our featured users series, where we have so far introduced Kris, Doreen, Florian, Mughal, Chris, Ina, Jonathan and Cécile (see here ).

Marijn is a development advisor for the Nepal Biogas Promotion Association in Kathmandu, Nepal, since 2012. His main objective is to introduce new and sustainable technologies in waste management, agriculture and soil management. Marijn looks back on years of professional and and personal intercultural collaboration also before starting his work in Nepal.

Marijn has a very diversified professional background including naval architecture and struvite recovery as an architect and as an engineer.

Marijn getting pictures ready for a press release (or maybe doing a post to the forum?)

Marijn is well known within the SuSanA community for his high quality posts on a range of subjects, such as biogas technology, pathogen removal, behaviour change, CLTS and practical implementation issues.

For example, Marijn has contributed interesting posts to various debates we have had about CLTS and human rights such as this one on 20 Feb 2013 where he wrote.

One thought that struck me reading the article and the responses was the wider question of "being relativist about human rights". This is a difficult discussion, mainly focusing on the issue of how universal human rights really are and should be? I think we see a sort of pragmatism/realism versus a more "principled" approach in the discussion here.

and on 15 July 3013 here :

If looked at it in this way, I think I can word some of my hesitation towards CLTS as: "CLTS encourages people to police (and discipline) each other,rather then leaving this to the (theoretically) impartial state. I do think there is a serious problem with this, and even though I am not a specialist I am quite sure this does go against the spirit and possibly against the letter of the human rights conventions.


For those who like statistics and lists:
Marijn has made 132 posts so far, which puts him in 13th position in terms of number of posts. He has so far received 13 Karma points which puts him 10th in the list of karma points. His SuSanA basket carries 46 likes (11th position). Forum user statistics can be seen here and here ). We have recently introduced a new parameter called "most active users" (a combination of posts and likes), and for this parameter Marijn is in 13th place, see here .

View Marijn's forum profile and his last 20 posts here (you need to log in to view this).

Marijn's posts are always very clear, to the point, always polite, friendly and helpful which is wonderful.

If you wish to learn about Marijn, look for the upcoming interview, which will be posted within the forum in the next few days.

Congratulations Marijn, so good to have you with us in the Forum!!


Posted by Elisabeth von Muench and Lasse Roeder for the SuSanA secretariat

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Featured User in February 2015 - Marijn Zandee from the Netherlands

The following are a series of interview-type questions that Marijn kindly took the time to answer for us:

Part 1: About Marijn as a person and his work

You registered with SuSanA on 8 Aug 2011 which is only two months after the forum started. Do you remember what made you register then?
I was just new to the sanitation field back then, so for me the forum (and the Ecosanres Yahoo group, as a precursor) was a very important source of information.

What is your nationality and where are you living right now (and why or where have you lived previously – if relevant)?
I am from the Netherlands, but have been living and working for almost 5 years in Nepal now.

Where and what did you study, and why? Which further trainings were important for your career?
I am probably one of the few people in this line of work who have a degree in Naval Architecture (Design and engineering of ships and other floating structures).
In 2009, I quit my engineering job when my spouse found a job in human rights and conflict in Nepal; which was part of a long-term plan to switch career tracks to the development sector. Since we had both lived and traveled in Asia quite extensively before, the change was partly idealistic and partly a way to live in a more interesting corner of the world. At the start of the sanitation part of my life I decided that the WASH sector had most appeal (I am not quite sure why anymore :) )and for 3 months I downloaded reports and manuals, and read them to get at least the technical knowledge down.
As part of this self designed curriculum I did the UNESCO-IHE online course on Ecosan. Which was a great way to gain a lot of knowledge fast.
One other very important course in my professional development was the AVRDC-The world vegetable center's ”International Vegetable Training Course”, of which I did module 1 in Thailand some years ago. This course got me up to speed on horticulture/agriculture. I feel that Ecosan is/was pushed too much from the sanitation side, while there are/were few agriculturalists in the debate.
Marijn getting ready to inspect some biogas plants(2010).

What were your main employers, work locations or career milestones?
Before Development I worked as a boat builder and as a Naval Architect for about 7 years in the Netherlands and New Zealand.
My career in sanitation started with the Eawag-Sandec struvite project in Nepal (STUN) for which I worked for about 1.5 years. Getting this first job was a nice coincidence where the STUN team realized that they could use the assistance of an engineer around the same time that I dropped by to have a look at their work.
Then I worked for a bit under a year for the dZi foundation, they are a small (I)NGO working on rural development in Eastern Nepal.
Since 2 years, I am seconded by GIZ under the Nepal Energy Efficiency Project, to the Nepal Biogas Promotion Association where I do some work on technology transfer, but focus on organizational development.

What three things would you take to a remote island? Or what are the three “things” that are really important for you in practical terms?
Since I won't count my wife as a “thing”, 3 things that are very important with regards to my life here:
My mountain bike; food and the occasional drink; and my internet connection, which keeps me in touch with people and the world outside Nepal.

What books or magazines can be found on your bedside table?
I kind of read everything, but when I have the time I really enjoy well researched books on countries/regions and their histories.


To be continued in a further post...

Posted by Elisabeth von Muench and Lasse Roeder for the SuSanA secretariat

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
Follow us on facebook: www.facebook.com/susana.org and twitter: twitter.com/susana_org
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Re: Featured User in February 2015 - Marijn Zandee from the Netherlands

Part 2: Marijn's interests and thoughts on sanitation

Where do you work now and what does your organization do? How is it funded?
My contract is with GIZ, which is the large German development corporation and one of the main implementers of the development policies of the German government ( www.giz.de ).
In my day to day work, I work at the office of our partner, the Nepal Biogas Promotion Association in the capital Kathmandu ( www.nbp-association.org ). They are the umbrella of about 100 private sector biogas companies in Nepal. Our members build mainly household scale biogas plants under the Nepalese rural renewable promotion policies. NBPA is mainly funded through carrying out training and promotion activities for the Government lead agency in the renewable energy sector (Alternative Energy Promotion Center, under the Ministry of Science Environment and Technology) and to a lesser extend from member contributions. NBPA's core work is to function as the link between the policy makers and the private sector, to do vocational training for biogas technicians and to do biogas promotion activities.

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Marijn at a congres with Phani (left), one of the NBPA members

What would you recommend to youngsters from countries in the global North who want to get involved in development work – how should they go about it? And does it even make sense?
Ouch, am I old enough nowadays to give advice to youngsters? ;)
To start, I am quite skeptical about the “volunteering” just after school or university thing. I would probably advise to study a subject that will teach you some transferable skills, but not a “development study”. For example, engineering, agriculture, small business management or a medical degree would all give you useful skills, but not limit your options to development only.
Further, I would advocate to actually get a few years of work experience in your own country and in your field before heading to “the South”. I think that way, you can bring more to the people you work with and it also gives you more of a fallback option in case you want to leave the development field for whichever reason (relationships, children, disappointment or just simply having had enough of living in “foreign” cultures). Also, international development can be a bit inward looking, so people with experience from outside the development field can help to broaden our views.
The above is quite strongly influenced by the fact that this is what worked for me . In the end, communication skills, persistence and a little luck are probably the keys.

What do you see as the biggest threats and the biggest opportunities for Nepal’s future? (in terms of sanitation and public health or in general)
Unfortunately the need for improvement in sanitation coverage, technology and behavior is still very big. However, there is a very large push to achieve ODF (open defecation free) status in many places across the country, which is getting results. For me, there is still not a really functional supply chain and “market maker” that can take over once the ODF campaigns stop. I guess this is both a threat, in that ODF communities may slip back. But also a great opportunity for a group of local business people to get involved in the supply chain that can sustain progress up the “sanitation ladder”.

What kind of research topics are needed in the sanitation field?
There is so much research already that it is very hard to keep up. But I am looking for some more studies on sustainable behavior change with regard to sanitation and for a study on the pathogen levels in digested feces excavated from the pits of twin-pit (or Sulabh) toilets at the moment.

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View from Marijn's (former) office in Kathmandu


Part 3 to follow next week...

Posted by Elisabeth von Muench and Lasse Roeder for the SuSanA secretariat

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
Follow us on facebook: www.facebook.com/susana.org and twitter: twitter.com/susana_org
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Re: Part 3 - Featured User in February 2015 - Marijn Zandee from the Netherlands

Part 3: About Marijn’s opinions about the forum

What is making you write on the forum - what do you expect by making posts? How have you benefited yourself from using the forum?
I guess I am an opinionated person, so it is nice to have a place to share my opinions :P. Further, I find that engaging in discussion and writing answers helps me to formulate my own ideas better. Also, I would hope that by now I can actually give some meaningful answers to the more practical questions that come up.

Do your colleagues or people in your network also use the forum?
Because I am not really working in sanitation right now, I would say not so much. But I would like to put the question upside down a little: I would say that many of the forum users, even if I have never met most of them, are in an important part of my network.
Marijn inside a 25 cubic metre biogas plant

What don’t you like about the forum or about other forum users?
I like Appreciative Inquiry tools, so I will answer the question with what I do like. For me it is great that -with rare exception- the discussions here have content and are in a respectful tone. I think the forum is really a great information resource.

What is your advice to the forum moderators?
Steady as she goes, you are doing a great job. (By the way, my “moderator” status is only to remove the occasional spam post, so I am not patting my own back here :) )

Which topics or categories on the forum do you feel most passionate about?
I think I am biased towards discussions that somehow touch on what I see around me in Nepal. Either at the “policy / donor level” or at the very practical implementation level.

What developments are you observing with the discussion forum?
I think we started out with a core group of people who were mainly working on (sustainable) sanitation in the developing world. As the forum has grown, the scope and background of the forum seems to have widened a lot.

Which developments do you like, which don’t you like?
As the scope of the discussions widens, I feel that discussion veer off-topic a bit more the last year or so. We may have to work a bit more on the “moderation response” to this. At the moment the moderators split threads when they feel they get off topic too much. I think that sometimes we may even have to consider closing threads, or branches, with a short message that the subject is too far removed from the overall Susana topics. This is partly because there could be a risk that we end up with information on the forum that our members have no real way of checking.

Which of the improvements to the forum from last year did you like the most / the least?
I am looking forward to our thematic discussion regarding the sanitation ladder (note started on 9 February, see here ).

-- This Part 3 concludes the interview. Do you have any feedback for Marijn? Anything that he said which inspired you? --

Posted by Elisabeth von Muench and Lasse Roeder for the SuSanA secretariat

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Featured User in February 2015 - Marijn Zandee from the Netherlands, living in Nepal

Many Congratulations Marijn. You deserve it!!! Thank you SuSanA Forum for recognizing his contributions to the forum. I appreciate Marijn's contributions and willingness to support in promoting renewable energy and sustainable sanitation in Nepal. I had a chance to discuss some ideas with Marijn during a research project with ENPHO and I found him a very good researcher with noble ideas on research & development. He is a very practical person and knows very well the sanitation context in Nepal.

I particularly support and like his idea "[Unfortunately the need for improvement in sanitation coverage, technology and behavior is still very big. However, there is a very large push to achieve ODF (open defecation free) status in many places across the country, which is getting results. For me, there is still not a really functional supply chain and “market maker” that can take over once the ODF campaigns stop. I guess this is both a threat, in that ODF communities may slip back. But also a great opportunity for a group of local business people to get involved in the supply chain that can sustain progress up the “sanitation ladder”.]". Yes indeed, there is a huge need of sustainable sanitation supply chain that should be integrated with on-going ODF movement in Nepal.

Congratulations once again Marijn! I wish him all the best with his future endeavors to contribute in promoting sustainable sanitation in Nepal.

Cheers, :-)
Bipin
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