“Looking out my window through the palm trees at the ocean, it’s hard to realise that on 7 March the city of Bata in Equatorial Guinea was hit by a terrible disaster. A munition depot in the city exploded destroying and damaging houses in a radius up to 5 kilometers around the location. 107 people lost their lives and 700 people were injured. The area was covered in dust and remains of ammunition. Now that most of the ammunition has been cleared and houses are being restored, concerns about the effect of the blast on the water safety are rising. Many people in the area rely on shallow dug wells and the dust and debris from the explosion may easily reach these wells.

 DSS (Dutch Surge Support) is a humanitarian branch of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency of Dutch Government that sends out Dutch water experts to provide support in humanitarian emergency missions. DSS asked me to join UNICEF and support the government of Equatorial Guinea to investigate the effect of the blast on water safety in the area. Veolia Foundation, a volunteer programme of Veolia, also participates in the mission. After several delays, on 28 May I finally got on a flight to EG with a suitcase full of laboratory equipment and a head full of questions.”

Water expert Patrick Smeets wrote about his work for UNICEF through DSS water in Equatorial Guinea. Read his entire blog on www.kwrwater.nl