Just a Drop Changemakers: Fiona Jeffery OBE, Founder of Just a Drop & Paras Loomba of Global Himalayan Expedition
In celebration of Just a Drop’s 20th anniversary, we spoke to four inspirational people who are doing their bit to change the world we live in for the better.
Fiona Jeffery OBE founded Just a Drop in 1998 shortly after becoming a mum. She learnt that at the time, a child died every 17 seconds because of dirty water - yet just £1 could provide a child with safe water for 10 years. At the time, Fiona was Chairman of the travel industry's global event World Travel Market, and by setting up Just a Drop hoped to encourage travel and tourism businesses to give back to the communities they operated in across the world.
'I would say sustainability sits in Just a Drop's DNA more than even water, sanitation and hygiene education. We won’t tackle anything unless we feel we can make it sustainable in the long term, because we don’t want to waste our hard-raised funds. So we select our projects carefully. We do a huge amount of due diligence and we have the engineering and hydrogeologist expertise to identify the best engineering solutions to meet the topographical environments in which we are working.
We also work with local partners to ensure we have the right commitment at a local community level, so much of our effort goes into local training and education to support looking after the facilities and behavioural change. Finally we monitor our programmes for a minimum of 7 years, to ensure they continue to be sustainable in the long term.
My desire is that Just a Drop is a cause and organisation people believe in. That they know they are making a positive difference by supporting it - and that it makes a life transforming difference to our communities. But that it is also recognised as a purposeful and worthwhile development organisation that donors can have confidence in, with a real personal touch, which truly values them.
The ultimate success will be, of course, Just a Drop not being needed any more. That would be the very best outcome I could wish for, but it’s also sadly highly unlikely at this point in time.
What I would say is we all have to look beyond ourselves. Solutions to problems at a global level are not short term fixes. We can do what we can whilst here and I would advocate we should all do something whatever it might be. It could be as simple as looking after an elderly neighbour.
'The cause is greater than us, and the best thing you can do for it is ensure that others can benefit from what you’ve done and build off it to create an even bigger difference So my advice would be to think long term whilst responding to the now and maintain that important balance between doing what’s right for the moment and thinking what’s best for the future.'