Biography Henk Holtslag

Born on a farm Henk has an education as ships engineer and sailed on freighters and passengerships for 8 years. In this period he became interested in developing countries and  in 1974 went to Tanzania via the organization SNV to train Tanzanian fishermen in ships maintenance. After this period and 8 years in the Netherlands he, his wife Gerda and children Chris and Sita went in 1987 to Nicaragua, also for SNV, to work in a windmill project.  Both projects  were ‘white elephants’ mainly because the technology was too complicated, and too expensive. With the lessons learned, he started a workshop in Managua with his Nicaragua collegue Luis Roman.  This time the focus was on simple and low cost technologies like waterfilters, manual well drilling and several models rope-pumps, all produced with local materials. With collegues like Bernard van Hemert, Henk Alberts and Jaap van der Zee he promoted ropepumps in Nicaragua and by 2010 there were some 20 workshops that together have produced over 90.000 pumps,  increasing the GNP with 100 million US$ (families with a pump earn 220US$/year extra)  Back in The Netherlands in 2008 he cooperated with the organisation Practica foundation to promote new low-cost technologies (also called Smart Techs) to Africa and Asia including rope-pumps that now serve over 5 million people in many countries. As a freelance advisor Henk now works for Connect International, SNV, Aqua 4 all, Arrakis, Humana, Winrock and other organisations in some 15 countries, training local private sector and NGOs.  He is convinced that Smart Techs have a huge, and yet untapped, potential to reduce poverty and presents at many international water fora. He initiated the booklet ‘Smart Water Solutions’ and by now there 6 different themes in the Smart series.  He is co-founder of the 300in6 initiative and in 2008, he was made a knight in the “Orde van Orange-Nassau” (a royal award), by Minister Bert Koenders, the Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation.


This blog informs you about his work and travels. You can contact Henk in case of questions or leave comments on the posts of this blog.