Life-changing trip for North East water worker

Helen Allister


A North East water worker will come face to face with how a developing community copes without much of the sanitation that is often taken for granted in the UK.

Helen Allister, from Rowlands Gill, will represent Northumbrian Water on a trip to Mozambique with WaterAid, to see first-hand how the international charity’s work is saving lives.

It is now 35 years since WaterAid was founded by the water industry in 1981 to help tackle the water crisis. Helen, a wastewater team leader based in Washington, Tyne and Wear, will see how this support is still crucial for bringing access to clean water, toilets and hygiene to the world’s poorest communities.

Currently there are 650 million people in the world living without safe water, and 2.3 billion people who are without proper sanitation; living without these basic necessities makes it virtually impossible to break the cycle of poverty.

Helen said: “I’m so excited about this trip, although I feel nervous too, as I know that the reality of life for millions of people in Mozambique living without access to water and basic toilets is extremely tough. We are so lucky to have clean water at the turn of a tap.

“Mothers often have a hideous choice of either giving their child dirty water, or nothing to drink at all. I was shocked and devastated when I discovered that across the world 315,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. What a horrific statistic and a needless waste of life. I know that WaterAid’s work is essential and next week I’ll be able to witness this and see the impacts for myself.”

Nine other representatives from the UK water industry will join Helen on the week-long visit.

They will assist local communities with practical work such as constructing latrines, hand washing ‘tippy tap’ facilities, and carrying water. They’ll also be seeing how money raised in the UK makes a difference in Mozambique and other developing countries.

Mozambique is a former Portuguese colony in East Africa, and is home to over 27 million people – almost half of whom live without access to safe water, and only 21% of the population have access to adequate sanitation. The combination of a lack of water and sanitation causes 4,200 children to die in the country each year, and contributes to a life expectancy of just 50 years.

Helen, who will be encouraging people to follow her journey through her blog - - and Twitter account @helwholikesbugs, added: “I’d like to use the trip to raise my awareness so when I return I can share my experiences and inspire my colleagues in their fundraising efforts.”

Shona Langridge, Water Industry Partnerships Lead at WaterAid, said: “Helen’s experience in Mozambique will provide her with an incredible opportunity to see how clean water and toilets really are the most essential foundations for all development.

“The water companies have always played a vital role in improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. The supporters on this visit will find out how our projects are giving people a brighter and more optimistic future, beginning with access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.”

The group will be in Mozambique from 15 to 23 October 2016.

Interviews and photos of Helen are available before/after and possibly during the trip – please get in touch to arrange times.
Paul White on 0191-3015325
• OR Lisa Martin at WaterAid: / 020 7793 4524

About Mozambique

• Just under half of the population lives without access to safe water
• £200 could pay for a locally-built rope pump.
• 79% of people don’t have adequate sanitation, causing preventable diarrhoeal diseases that kill 4,200 children under five every year.
• This situation has a big impact on health, education and livelihoods, contributing to an average life expectancy of 50 years.
• In Mozambique in 2015/16 WaterAid reached:
• 61,000 people with safe water
• 38,000 people with improved sanitation


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America 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 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit, follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at

• Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.
• Over 650 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water
• Over 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation
• For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
• Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.
• For details on how individual countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, please see our online database,

For further media information, contact Paul White on 0191 3015325.

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