Our tips for using social media

By Paula Echeverría Suárez

During my year as an intern for the City Water Project, I was in charge of its social media campaigns. I thought it would be a pretty easy task, but I was totally wrong.

I started using social media at 12 years old and consider myself a “social media expert.” I have spent an average of four hours a day for the last 10 years of my life on social media. My accounts seemed to be pretty successful as I had over 1000 Facebook friends (I have met all of them in person); a Twitter, a YouTube, and even a Google+ account. I grew up on the internet, I remember all the trends, the failed social media platforms, and the scandals. With all of these things in mind, I accepted the responsibility of being in charge of all the social media accounts of the CWP.

At the beginning, I thought that managing the CWP social media accounts would be just as managing my own. Meaning, that I would get attention and followers in a blink of an eye. However, soon after I became responsible of the CWP’s campaign I realized it wasn’t this way. It is important to highlight that the social media accounts of the City Water Project had a low level of success,* because I had no professional experience with social networks. And after a whole year of testing, trying and repeating, the next ten tips are all the lessons I have learned in the process. I am sharing them with you right now to make it easier for you to start promoting your project.

  1. Take into account that the use of social networks for leisure is completely different from their use for professional purposes. On one hand, you receive instant reward by getting likes, comments and new friends in your personal social media accounts. On the other hand, it is going to take some time to get the attention you expect your project to receive (unless you pay money for it.)
  2. If you share your professional social media accounts with your friends, they might give it a like out of solidarity, but it doesn’t mean they are actually interested in what you are promoting. In fact, they might not even check what you are promoting.
  3. Getting a bunch of likes doesn’t necessarily mean that your content is being read and shared.
  4. It is important to have an active social media page. This means you need to post something AT LEAST ONCE A DAY.
  5. The best times to post something are between 18:00 – 21:00. Remember that if you are promoting a project abroad you need to take into account time difference.
  6. Start following projects and organizations that have a similar goal as yours. They might actually help you to promote your project to the intended audience.
  7. Share the content you created in all your social networks. For example, if you upload a video in YouTube, share the link in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  8. One person can do it, but it is even better to have a team in charge of the social media campaign as strategies and creativity are needed. It is also very time consuming.
  9. Believe in your project and its goal.
  10. Don’t give up.

* Addition from David Z: Twitter @citywaterpro has 39 tweets and 2 followers (both in the project). Our YouTube channel has 4 videos with 205 total views and 4 subscribers (3 from our project). Our facebook page has 73 followers, and we have 37 Insta-followers!

Here’s our analytics data for this website:

It is time to say good-bye to the CWP

By Paula Echeverría Suárez

I started my internship with the City Water Project in September 2016. It all began in the committee fair of my university, where Raghav, founding member of the CWP, was looking for enthusiastic first-years who were interested in carrying on with the project.

At first, I was surprised but curious. Why would a group of college kids be interested in the water quality of the world? The first city they have been working on was The Hague and its water quality seemed pretty good. Everybody was drinking water from the tap and they didn’t get sick for doing it. In comparison to my home country, Ecuador, where it is almost impossible not to end in the hospital if you do the same thing. Wasn’t it too ambitious to be part of a project like this? In the end, I said why not? Maybe I could learn a thing or two about water quality, team-work and cross-cultural communication.

After this encounter and a meeting with David, the professor in charge of the project, I became part of it. We were a small group of people believing in the importance of the dissemination of information about water quality. Each week we would meet and have a meeting with all our plans for the next seven days. It wasn’t only work, it was also a time to talk about our week, our problems and our dreams. However, we soon realized that believing in the importance of water quality wasn’t enough to carry on. We needed to get contacts in The Hague, and it was a bit difficult as we didn’t speak Dutch.

Step by step, with different campaigns such as social media and flyers we tried to enter in the community. We wanted to know their opinion of the quality of water in the city. In order to do so, we had created a survey in 5 languages. After three months of working in The Hague, we decided that it was time to move to another city and try again. Our efforts in The Hague weren’t enough. We never managed to create the impact we wanted.

At the beginning of 2017, we moved to Galway, Ireland and Flint, Michigan. After working in The Hague, we had more patience, discipline and cooperation in our team, which made our second campaign more successful.

The City Water Project has been a great experience, but a year has passed. It is time for me to say good-bye to my teammates. I am moving on, but I will never forget the importance of water quality.

 

Who will pay and who will suffer?

By Lucas Barinaga

NB: We thank Hope4Flint for helping us distribute our surveys and collect answers. The responses underneath may reflect a bias of sourcing data via a single channel. (We tried to get data from more people — the survey was public — but the people of Flint may be tired of answering outsiders’ questions. Our survey results are based on 20-21 r

Solutions in Flint will depend on ability to pay — and willingness to pay. To get an idea of ability, we asked our anonymous respondents their household monthly income:

It looks as if around 2/3rds of our respondents make less than the US median household income of $4.600 per month. This figure might be sufficient to pay for water service (the average bill is $75/month in nearby Detroit, which is both more expensive than the national average but perhaps cheaper than Flint bills would be if customers had to pay to restore their system), but 90% of our respondents are unwilling to pay for water service, leaving comments such as ‘I am only paying for flushing the toilet’ or ‘why pay if you are still being poisoned?’

Who should pay? 80 percent said the state of Michigan and 20 percent said the city of Flint. Sadly, when asked a follow up question (“Do you feel that the government is effectively trying to solve this crisis?”), most said No.

Unfortunately for the people of Flint, the government is not stepping in, which means they need to choose between paying for “poisoned water” or losing their home. As of May 19th, more than 8,000 Flint residents have been threatened with foreclosure for failure to pay their bills.

Are they not paying because they are too poor or too unwilling? The answer may not seem important when the system needs money to pay for costs and restoration (the cost of new supplies coming from Detroit just increased by 4.7%), but it’s important to the people of Flint. Why should they have to pay when others have messed up their city’s water system?

Update (14 June): “Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged five water officials — including a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet and a former emergency manager — with manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act in during the Flint Water Crisis.”

To drink or not to drink Flint’s tap water?

By Lucas Barinaga

NB: We thank Hope4Flint for helping us distribute our surveys and collect answers. The responses underneath may reflect a bias of sourcing data via a single channel. (We tried to get data from more people — the survey was public — but the people of Flint may be tired of answering outsiders’ questions. Our survey results are based on 20-21 responses.)

Our campaign in Flint helped us understand citizens’ resilience, perseverance and a painstakingly slow path to normality.

The answers to our first question (“Do you drink Flint tap water?”) were surprising but explainable:

 

 

 

 

 

Why did so many people say yes? It appeared that most people who answered “yes”  misunderstood the question, as 95% of respondents later said they “knew nobody who drinks Flint water.”

Where did they get their drinking water from? 90 percent said they get it from stores, donations or PODS (water resource sites that offer filters, bottled water and water testing kits).

Even though we expected that our respondents would not drink tap water, we thought that were avoiding it because they did not know how to get or use the water filters that are widely available. We were wrong: 80 percent of respondents knew how to purify their water with filters, but they still don’t want to drink it.

Galway survey responses 2

By Ailish Lalor

In our first post about water quality in Galway, Ireland, we introduced you to our respondents’ backgrounds and their usage and experience of water. This post discusses their experience of water quality and opinions of Irish Water, the water provider for Ireland.

NB: These results may be slightly biased as most of our respondents were probably connected to our local partners in Galway — Right2Water and Galway University.

What was their experience of water quality?

Nearly half of our 77 respondents claimed their water had a funny taste or smell, while 36% believed there was pollution in the water, 22.7% believed there was baceria or parasites in the water, and 28% had another unidentified cause for concern with regard to the water. Only 25% said they had no concerns.

How was their relationship with Irish Water?

56% were paying a water charge to Irish Water, while 16% said they had a legal reason for not paying these charges (e.g., a well) and the remaining 28% did not pay because they had a moral objection to paying charges.

In terms of willingness to pay, 32% said they were content to pay the water charges while 13% said they were too high, 46% had a non-price objection to them and 9% said “not applicable” — perhaps because they are drinking well water.

93% rated Irish Water’s attempts to solve water quality issues below 5/10. When it comes to water charges, 51% said that water users should pay, while 23%, 14% and 8% said the national government, city council or businesses should pay. 22% of respondents were unhappy with the customer service they received from Irish Water, 5% were happy and 73% had never been in contact with the organisation.

Galway survey responses 1

By Ailish Lalor

After three months of effort, we are happy to announce that the survey results for Galway, Ireland, are out! In case you haven’t been following our journey so far, we launched our Galway campaign in late February to understand how Galway residents perceived their drinking water quality. This post introduces our 77 respondents in terms of their backgrounds and daily interactions with water. (The next post will be about water quality and Irish Water.)

NB: These results may be slightly biased as most of our respondents were probably connected to our local partners in Galway — Right2Water and Galway University.

Who are our respondents?
72% of respondents were 18-25 years old. 68% had an income of less than €1000 per month. 98.7% had lived in Galway for more than six months. 4% lived alone.

Where did they get their water and how did they use it?
98.6% got their water from the mains. 60% drank water directly from the tap, (57.3% said their friends did the same) 14.1% filtered their tap water, 4.2% boiled water before use, and 32.4% drank bottled water.

85.1% did not know if there is lead in their pipes. (We don’t know if there’s lead in the pipes, either.)  Almost all used water for cooking, cleaning and bathing, with most also drinking it but less than half using it for gardening — a result that may indicate a lack of gardening or rain-fed gardens.

New campaign in Flint

The age-old question is: if there is a way to clean your water in the woods, but nobody knows that it is there, does it exist? This seems to be a very fitting question that both the water utilities and residents of Flint, Michigan are struggling with. Since the Flint water crisis of 2014 occurred media coverage of the issue has substantially fallen. Sadly, the danger of drinking tap water hasn’t, but it is on its way. What has changed is that the city has been great in offering bottled water, water filters, information on how to use them, change them, and even how to test your own water. Thing is, many residents of Flint haven’t been able to use these resources information.

This failure to connect shows that the water utilities of the world must establish a sustainable link between their citizens and themselves. To address this we are glad to announce that the City Water Project will be starting a campaign in Flint. We are excited to work together with people from the ‘vehicle city’ known for its resilience. To find out more visit our website and if you are a resident of Flint please help us by filling out our survey here.

Engaging with the local government in Galway

When we go to a new city with the City Water Project, one of the first groups we try to make contact with is the local government: mainly to let them know that we will be working in their city, and also to ask for information and contacts with local interested groups. In our experience, the local government is not usually engaged at this stage; but the Galway City Council was very helpful and interested from the offset.

We asked for and were given an overview of the situation in Galway, at least as far as the city council was concerned. Galway City Council explained who was in charge of providing water (Irish Water), where it came from (mainly Lough Corrib), and how it was treated. They also gave us a contact with Irish Water.

So, we have no complaints about the local government in Galway. They seemed eager to help us and were clearly well aware that water quality was an issue in their city. However, in the next blog post, we’ll talk about trying to get into contact with Irish Water, and beginning to understand what the main issues with water quality in Galway are. Stay tuned!

Remember, if you live in Galway, please fill out our survey: and if you have any questions or comments, please email us.

The City Water Project goes to Galway

By Ailish Lalor

For the months of April and May this year, the City Water Project is running a campaign in Galway. Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland and is the fourth most populated city in Ireland, containing many tourist attractions such as the Burren. However, it has also become famous, at least within Ireland, for its water problems.

In 2007, a cryptosporidium outbreak in Lough Corrib caused the public water supply in Galway city to become contaminated. Residents were told to boil water and many elected to purchase bottled water. The Irish Government, originally through Galway County Council and from 2014 onwards, Irish Water, attempted to improve the situation through investment and repairs of the system. Our mission is to see whether the citizens of Galway feel that enough has been done: in other words, do they feel they can trust the water coming through their taps?

In following blog posts we will be detailing our engagement with the local government, and with other interested groups. For now, if you have any questions, do email us: and if you’re a resident of Galway, please fill out our survey about your perception of water quality and usage!

Den Haag Debrief 5: An international, multicultural city

By Paula Echeverría Suárez

The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch) is the third largest city of the Netherlands. It is located along the North Sea about 40 minutes south of Amsterdam. It is the seat of the Dutch government and the majority of foreign embassies and international organizations in the country. Out of a population of 520,000 (as of April 1, 2016), fifty percent have Dutch ancestry while the other half have one or two “foreign born” parents. The Hague is an international city with many faces and different cultures.

The Hague’s reputation as an international city began in the middle of the 19th century when it became the Royal Residence of the House Oranje-Nassau. As a government town and seat of the monarchy, the city attracted many embassies and welcomed visitors from near and far, overcrowding the town and forcing development to continue outside the original city center. By the 20th century, The Hague was internationally known as a city of peace and justice, helding the First Peace Conference in the world.

The Hague is built on sand dunes in the northwest and peat in its southeast (the border roughly runs parallel to Laan van Meerdervoort). Wealthier neighbourhoods like Statenkwartier, Belgisch Park, Marlot, Benoordenhout and Archipelbuurt are generally located “in the sand” closer to the sea, and those Hagenaars speak bekakt Haags (“posh”). In the poorer neighborhoods like Transvaal, Moerwijk, and Schilderswijk, the Hagenezen speak plat Haags (“vulgar”). In the 1970s and 1980s, mostly white middle-class families moved to neighbouring towns like Voorburg, Leidschendam, Rijswijk and, most of all, Zoetermeer. This led to the traditional pattern of an impoverished inner city and more prosperous suburbs.

That pattern has partially reversed, as The Hague today has a mix of 100 ethnicities, languages and cultures living side by side. Most inhabitants at least speak two languages fluently (15% of the population speaks Turkish or Arabic as a native language). There are many yearly events celebrating the different heritages of The Hague’s inhabitants. For instance, the “Welcome to The Hague” programme for expats; the Tong Tong Fair, a celebration of the Indonesian-Dutch heritage, and The Embassy Festival for the diplomats that live in the city.

For the City Water Project, the idea of starting our initiative in a city so culturally diverse seemed interesting and exciting. However, we did not realize that our connections should not only focus on The Hague as a single community, but The Hague as a variety of small communities, each with their own language and culture. You can read more about our efforts to connection to them here.