DJ and Strictly star Tyler West launches WaterAid appeal in new ambassador role after inspiring trip to Zambia

Tyler West – Kiss DJ, TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star – has become WaterAid’s newest Ambassador after returning from an inspiring trip to Zambia with the international charity to see how clean water and decent toilets can change lives for good.

New statistics released this year show that nearly one in ten people globally have no clean water and almost one in five have no decent toilets. In Zambia, almost a third of people have no clean water close to home, and the climate crisis is making the situation worse. The dry seasons are becoming more prolonged and drying up springs, while the rainy seasons are more extreme, making the walk for water more difficult and dangerous.

Tyler met families and schoolchildren who spoke about the devastating impact a lack of clean water and decent sanitation has on their health, education and livelihoods.

He also visited communities and schools where WaterAid has worked to help bring clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene. He heard about the difference these three essentials can make and how they can help people build resilience to the changing climate – while also swapping dance moves.

Tyler’s first job in his role as an ambassador is to launch WaterAid’s Water Means Life winter appeal – a year on from his last dance on Strictly Come Dancing at the legendary Blackpool Tower Ballroom. He is sharing the stories of the people he met in Zambia to encourage the UK public to donate this winter and help more people build a better future.

Tyler’s enthusiasm for supporting children and their education was sparked on a recent holiday to The Gambia, where he visited a school that had no water or electricity on site. He felt inspired to help and worked alongside the community to arrange crowdfunding and donated to local contacts to help them install new facilities. He has since felt motivated to do more to help make a bigger impact.

Tyler said:

“It’s just not right that today, nearly one in ten people around the world don’t have clean water close to home, and climate change is making it worse, with droughts and flooding making water hard to find or unsafe.

“In the Kazungula district in southern Zambia, I met Brenda who walks 5km to a dried-out riverbed to scoop water from a small hand-dug well. As the dry seasons get longer, it is even harder for her to find and collect water. The water is dirty and makes her family sick, but she has no other choice; no mother should have to be in that position.

“I also visited a nearby school that has no clean water or toilet facilities, meaning the students are often sick from drinking dirty water and have to go to the toilet in the bush. Some do not come in because they don’t feel safe at school, which was really sad to hear. All children everywhere should have the chance of a good education.”

In Zambia, one in five schools (21%) either have clean water that is only sometimes available, dirty water, or no water at all.

Owen Siamulonga, a volunteer teacher who walks an hour and a half to teach at the school, said:

“Pupils get sick because we don’t have any way to protect them at school. Sometimes students won’t come to school because of the lack of water, and it is very common for parents to write notes for their daughters saying they have their period and so they will not be coming to school. This is upsetting as it means they miss out on their lessons.” 

Before her community in Kabuyu got clean water, Matildah Habeenzu, a chicken farmer, used to have to walk three hours a day to collect water that wasn’t clean for her family and livestock. Since WaterAid has worked with the community to install clean water facilities nearby, she only spends 10 minutes a day collecting water, which has had an incredible impact.  

Matildah Habeenzu said:

The clean water pump has changed our lives so much. We now have fewer cases of diseases in the community, no diarrhoea, no sickness. We can raise healthier chickens, we have cleaner homes and cleaner clothes.  Our dreams have come true because we have water. Our clean water has changed our lives.”

At the local primary and secondary school, students used to have leave to get water from a nearby stream in the middle of the school day, missing valuable lesson time. Some girls would also miss out on school if they got their period as there were no decent toilets. Now, the school has clean water taps across the site, a toilet block with shower facilities and accessible toilets, and the teachers have their own facilities.

Jane, a student at the school and member of the school hygiene club, said:

“As a girl, I now feel safe and free when I come to school, even if I’m having my period. When I come to school, I have a safe place to change my pads and I can use the shower. Then I can comfortably go back to class and carry on my lessons as normal.”

Teachers say the enthusiasm of the students and the time saved on the walk for water has provided a much-needed morale boost for staff.

Jane Susiku, an English and Religious Studies teacher, said:

“We don’t need to worry ‘where I am going to draw water’ or ‘what time am I leaving today so I have water at home’. I’m happy because it’s not something that would make me stressed anymore. Now I know anytime I feel like taking a shower, I can take a shower. Anytime I feel like cooking, I can do my cooking without worrying. I feel better as a teacher.”  

After his visit, Tyler reflected:

“It was truly amazing to see the incredible difference clean water can make and the opportunities it can bring. At a school that now has clean water and decent toilets, the children were full of energy and enthusiasm for learning. The teachers said pupils no longer missed their lessons due to preventable illnesses and performance had vastly improved.

“I am honoured to be a WaterAid Ambassador and hope to help tell the stories of how clean water, good hygiene and decent toilets have the power to change lives for good, helping improve people’s health, education and livelihoods. Water really does mean life.”

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive at WaterAid, said:

“We are delighted to appoint Tyler as an official WaterAid Ambassador – it’s never been a more vital time to support our work, as communities the world over are seeing lives and livelihoods impacted by climate change, and children’s futures are hanging in the balance. We know Tyler’s passion for education and clean water for every child, everywhere will help raise vital funds for our appeal and make a huge difference to our work.”

The climate crisis is a water crisis. We can’t stop the weather, but with clean water and toilets that can withstand the effects of extreme weather, we can change its impact.

By supporting WaterAid’s winter appeal Water Means Life, the UK public can help more communities in Zambia and around the world to get clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, so they can learn, earn and thrive, whatever the future holds. To find out more and donate, visit

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