Make a Mother’s Day
Having recently been spoilt by my husband and two children this Mother’s Day (15th March), it can be easy to forget that thousands of mothers in Africa and Asia don’t have time for a special day.
Instead, they are carrying out the back-breaking and all-consuming task of finding and fetching water for their families. Every day, they spend hours trying to provide this basic life necessity. Many women in sub-Saharan Africa are still expected to walk miles to collect water on the day they go into labour.
What’s more, the water is often contaminated. It can kill too. Every twenty seconds, a child dies from a water related disease.
These shocking facts are just one of the reasons I set up the international water aid charity Just a Drop. I had recently become a mother myself and I felt a deep-seated desire to reach out and help to improve the lives of disadvantaged families around the world.
Access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation is the one thing that changes everything for a community. It is the one intervention that unlocks progress in health, education and livelihoods - particularly for women and girls who often have the primary responsibility for water collection.
So, this Mother’s Day, Just a Drop launched its Mums Army campaign.
The campaign is asking mums in the UK to sign up to the Mums Army and form fundraising brigades in their own communities - led by a ‘Troop Leader’ - to support mums in Africa and beyond in keeping their children safe by ensuring they have clean, safe water to drink.
To support the campaign we have a dedicated website and fundraising pack, a Facebook page which allows Mums Army members to upload news/pictures of their events and share ideas, as well as the backing of some personalities from the stage and screen: TV presenter and Just a Drop patron, Alexander Armstrong and actresses Lucy-Jo Hudson and Haydn Gwynne.
Just a Drop in Africa
Just a Drop provides clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to some of the poorest communities around the world through the construction of wells, boreholes, pipelines, hand pumps and latrines, as well as hygiene and sanitation programmes.
Over 70% of the charity’s funding supports countries in Africa and to date, work has been carried out in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Niger, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Today, Just a Drop’s work in Africa focuses on Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Last year alone, we completed 27 projects in these countries, reaching approximately 78,000 people.
Six of those projects were carried out in the semi-arid region of Makueni County, south of Nairobi, helping communities to transform their environment by improving the availability of safe water supplies through building sand dams and rainwater harvesting tanks, as well as establishing tree nurseries and opportunities for planting crops.
47 year old Merry Makau, a mother of nine from Makueni County, explains the changes she has been able to make to her life thanks in part to the new sand dam which she helped to build together with her community Self Help Group.
“We have never had a lot of water in the river; searching and collecting water took most of our time, meaning nothing else we would do for the rest of the day. We also shared the river with the primary school pupils so often the pupils would get late back to school. I felt bad for them since that meant that they had to miss their lessons.
Everyone was motivated to help with the dam construction and it took us eight days to complete. Now water is in plentiful supply and my home is just a 10 minutes’ walk to the river. I have enough time to take care of my children and also my farm. I water my banana trees and I am planning to venture into vegetable farming. I see a bright future with this water in this dam. It’s a complete life changer!”
Support Just a Drop’s Mums Army
Just a Drop’s Mums Army campaign will culminate on Mother’s Day 2016 when the campaign’s target to raise £250,000 will be announced.
A Mums Army will, we believe, be one of the most formidable forces ever gathered to help mums in developing countries overcome the life threatening challenges of access to clean water.
Fiona Jeffery OBE - Industry Relations Director, Atta & Chairman and Founder of Just a Drop.