Whether drinking, cooking, showering, swimming or relaxing by it, I love clean water. It’s something that I have always taken for granted and so I was shocked at what I saw when I went to visit some of Practical Action’s water and sanitation projects:
Deep in the Peruvian Amazon jungle is a community in the middle of nowhere: We had to drive for about 2 hours from the nearest town across rough, muddy, mountainous terrain, take a ferry over a large river and then trek by foot for an hour down a mountain to reach it. The people who live here are literally in the middle of nowhere and they used to rely on nearby, (and by that I mean a good walk away) natural resources for their water needs.
They took me to see where they previously collected their water. It was a small, dank and dark pit with flies buzzing around it and a nasty smell. I couldn’t believe it; these people drank, wash up and bathed in this water. Thankfully our local team in Peru have worked with them to build showers and clean running water in the village using micro hydro. The community told me that they are delighted with the work Practical Action has done and I imagine it will bring huge benefits such as not having to walk so far to collect the water and cut down on water borne diseases. One man even jumped in the shower with all his clothes on and started dancing. That’s how much it means to these people.
Another very remote project I went to see was above La Paz in Bolivia. The community told us that until we helped them to create eco-toilets, via a micro hydro scheme, they had used the local river as a toilet as well as to wash and drink from. One lady said that needing the toilet at night was awful because it was pitch black, freezing cols – the temperature can reduce to below minus 20 degrees – and there are wolves and sometimes men that roam around, so it was dangerous too. A toilet outside their house with running water changed their lives.
Clean, running water is a wonderful thing, but there are millions of people around the world don’t have access to it. Practical Action is doing some fantastic work to help people gain access to water and sanitation. How can you help us do more of this?