Tapping into life without clean water

Janine in Uganda

04.12.2014

The harsh reality of life without clean water has struck a North East water worker.

*** Janine is available for interview. Post-trip footage/photos are available ***

Janine Scott, aged 27, from Chester-le-Street, recently returned from an eye-opening trip to Africa and is determined to make a difference.

The Northumbrian Water worker, who is based in Durham covering an area from the Scottish Borders down to North Yorkshire and across to the Pennines, travelled to Uganda with the water company’s adopted international charity, WaterAid.

Janine spent a day-in-the-life in the rural villages of Ojolai and Bobol to see for herself how access to safe drinking water and sanitation affected the people there.

She also visited three very different local schools, some with and some without a water supply, and the flooded urban slums of Kampala.

She said: "In Ojolai village, I helped to collect the water from the ‘well’ which was basically a filthy pond, totally disease ridden and even had turtles in it. The weight of the full jerry can also shocked me; it’s 20kg and I could barely even lift it, let alone carry it back half a mile on my head whilst also carrying a baby – something the mothers and children do up to six times a day in the searing heat.

"The most shocking thing for me was seeing life in the slums, where human and animal waste runs freely through village and even floods people’s homes. While we were there we heard about a lady who’d died that morning taking her little girl to school – she’d fallen into an open sewer which was full to the brim from the previous night’s rain."

Corporate Affairs advisor, Janine, also visited rural communities and areas of the city slums where WaterAid has intervened, to see how the money raised locally by the company’s employees and customers is changing lives in countries like Uganda.

She added: "When we visited Bobol village, which had access to water, the difference in the people there and the atmosphere was amazing! The villagers were happier, healthier, educated about hygiene and even wealthier – access to clean water has a knock-on effect to their whole life. It makes you realise just how much of an improvement WaterAid can make – an amazing sight to see!

Janine plans to raise awareness of the communities in Uganda among colleagues at Northumbrian Water and highlight the excellent work carried out by WaterAid to motivate others to raise funds.

Trip leader, WaterAid’s Caroline Wakelin: "It was fantastic for the supporters to be able to observe and understand the depth of WaterAid work in Uganda. Advocacy is a vital element; for our group to be there on World Toilet Day and hear from the Minister of Health just how much they respected WaterAid, was an honour."

Uganda has a population of almost 35 million. Diseases such as cholera and typhoid are rife throughout the country due to contaminated drinking water sources and poor sanitation. WaterAid estimates that only 37% of the population has adequate sanitation and 12,000 children under five die every year, as a result of this. Find out more at www.wateraid.org.

See Janine’s blog for more information about her time in Africa www.janinescottblog.wordpress.com.

Get involved locally: WaterAid’s new Big History Project sees historian, Tony Robinson, calling on budding historians to find out about our own history of taps and toilets across the country. Did you know the first sewage system was only built 150 years ago in the UK? Get your history hats on and go to your local library, join your local history group and discover the real people behind a fascinating history that is, quite literally, under your feet. You can download The Big History Project toolkit from: www.wateraid.org/UK/bighistoryproject

For more info please contact: Alistair Baker at Northumbrian Water: Alistair.baker@nwl.co.uk or 0191 301 6851

• Around 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
• 748 million people in the world live without safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world′s population.
• 2.5 billion people live without sanitation; this is 39% of the world′s population.
• For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
• Just £15 can enable one person to access safe, clean water.
• Every hour, WaterAid helps over 200 people gain access to clean water in some of the world’s poorest communities.
About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.¬†Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation.¬†For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @wateraidUK on Twitter or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid

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