Drought and cows
The Rijnland region has approximately 200 kilometres of dikes. About 60 kilometres of the dikes needed to be inspected intensively in the spring of 2011 due to the continuing drought and the increased risk of the dikes shifting or collapsing. It was therefore decided to use fire-floats to keep the dikes wet and local farmers were asked to keep their big livestock (cows and horses) off the dikes during that period.
This was an excellent opportunity to bring the broad issue of ‘The Netherlands lives with water’ (as well as with drought!) to the attention of the general public. Obviously it was also important to secure the understanding and cooperation of the farmers. We therefore sent out a large-scale invitation to the press and provided them with all the necessary information and background material.
We were ultimately approached by about 60 national and foreign journalists working for the radio, TV and newspapers for more detailed information. This included the Dutch world broadcasting service, Wereldomroep, and Chinese television. We produced an elaborate item for the 8 o’ clock news in collaboration with the editorial team of the Dutch news broadcaster, NOS Journaal. This resulted in the issue becoming a permanent theme in the national and international press. At this stage, the press is actively approaching us and we no longer need to do any lobbying to bring further attention to the issue.