Environment Agency works with WaterAid to provide basic sanitation in Uganda

Posted: Monday 3rd November 2008

Clean and safe water is a necessity. For many people, water is available from a quick turn of the tap. Unfortunately for many millions of people across the world, clean water is a scarce resource.

The Environment Agency works closely with the charity WaterAid, helping people in developing countries gain access to a safe and clean water supply. As part of its commitment to the charity, Environment Agency staff raise much needed cash that help fund life-giving projects.

Ian Moxon a hydrogeologist with the Environment Agency is a dedicated fund raiser and has recently returned from a trip to Uganda where he found out how money he’s raised is spent:

“I’m reminded every day of just how precious water is. Water in the UK is a resource that we often take for granted. In Uganda, thousands of children die every single day from water-borne illnesses like diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera.”

Money raising

So far Ian has raised an impressive £37,000, by organising teams of servers to work behind bars at summer music festivals, including Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Latitude and Womad.

Uganda is a desperately poor country, with almost half the population surviving without any clean water to drink, or even somewhere safe to go to the toilet, so every penny counts.

On his 10 day trip, Ian experienced what life is like without water and sanitation. He visited the urban slums and spent a day living with a family in Bwijanga, a remote rural village in the Masindi area of north-western Uganda. During the day he experienced just some of the trials that the people of Uganda have to endure every day – using water from swamps and living with raw sewage running through their homes.

Hope for the future

WaterAid is dedicated to delivering life-changing projects throughout Uganda and Ian saw many examples of the success the charity has had by working with the local communities and assisting them to help themselves. Projects include the development of sanitation blocks containing latrines and washrooms that prevent disease from spreading. Environment Agency staff raised nearly £240,000 last year for WaterAid and are working hard to beat that total this year and help even more people.

Ian continued: “WaterAid engages with communities in all of its projects, whether they’re urban or rural. This part of the work is vital; the involvement of the local people ensures ownership of the projects and helps achieve sustainable, long-term success.”

Nikki Skipper, WaterAid’s Regional Development Manager, and team leader on the trip said: “We’re so grateful to Ian, not only for being a fantastic advocate for WaterAid, but also for his incredible fundraising efforts. Just £15 can provide someone with a lasting supply of safe water; sanitation and hygiene education, meaning Ian and his team have helped nearly 2,500 people gain access to these essential services. This is a phenomenal achievement, and on behalf of WaterAid I would like to extend my thanks to Ian and the Environment Agency for all their hard work and continued support”

The Great Stink!

It is hard to believe that Londoners experienced similar conditions 150 years ago during the ‘Great Stink’. Cholera epidemics combined to create a death rate in UK cities higher than at any time since the Black Death.

In 1858 Parliament was suspended due to the foul smell of the heavily polluted Thames. “Something has to be done!” was the cry and Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s sewage system was born. Even today work is being done to improve London’s sewerage network and the River Thames.

“Just imagine if the Victorians hadn’t built our sanitation systems in London – the Thames would be full of sewage and disease, just like it was 150 years ago during the Great Stink. Sanitation is a basic right, toilets are actually life-changing!” Ian added.

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