Puddles are for splashing in, not drinking: 144 pairs of wellies line the V&A’s pond to highlight the 144 million people who rely on surface water to drink from

WaterAid laid a striking tribute of 144 pairs of brightly coloured wellington boots in the garden of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to highlight the 144 million children, women and men across the world who rely on surface water like puddles, ponds and lakes to drink from.

Archie, 2, from London is pictured splashing in the popular paddling pool in the V&A garden, which is currently closed to the public. As children have been playing in puddles across the UK during this wet autumn, WaterAid created the thought-provoking installation to support its call for everyone to have clean water, as puddles are for splashing in, not for drinking from.

Through its Future on Tap appeal, the international organisation aims to raise £3 million to help transform lives with clean water in Ethiopia and other countries around the world. During the appeal, which runs till 4 February 2021, the UK government will match public donations up to £2 million, making double the difference in climate-vulnerable communities.

WaterAid Ambassador, baker and author, Nadiya Hussain said:

“Children love splashing in puddles with their wellies, it is part of the fun of being a child.

It’s a terrible injustice that millions of people around the world rely on similar water sources for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Everyone everywhere should have clean water close to home. This basic human right means children can stay healthy and have the time to play and get a good education, so they can pursue their dreams, which is what all parents want for their children.

“WaterAid’s Future on Tap appeal will help transform lives for families around the world so they can give their children the future they deserve.”

Due to a lack of clean water in Frat in Amhara, western Ethiopia, families collect water from either a river or a large pond, both of which are dirty and difficult to access.

Animut’s family mainly relies on the pond for their water needs. The pond, which resembles a giant puddle, is surrounded by mud, full of leeches, and also used by animals. It fills up during the rainy season and dries up in the summer. Over the years, the amount of water has been decreasing as the climate changes.

When parents like Animut are busy farming, their children have to collect water. Recently, his seven-year-old daughter Aynadis became stuck in the thick mud while carrying a heavy jerry can of water, and fell and broke her arm. Animut had been saving to buy a sheep for his farm but had to use his money to take her to the doctor, several miles away. Aynadis has had to miss school while she is recovering.

This isn’t the life Animut wants for his daughter. He said:

Were it not for the poverty and the problems that beset us, I would not have allowed even myself to go into this cold, muddy water let alone my little girl. The water is dirty; we use it because we have no other option.

“Being free from having to drink this worm-infested pond will make a good difference to our health.”

Animut’s wish for his children is that they get a good education, so they can build a better future for themselves. When clean water comes to Frat, his children will be healthier, safer, and will have more time to go to school and pursue their dreams, whatever the future holds. With clean water on tap, they will also be able to grow food even when the weather is unpredictable.

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive, WaterAid, said:

“One of the great joys of autumn is seeing children splashing in puddles – and there are certainly lots to choose from at the moment. Our striking installation highlights the fact that across the world, 144 million people have no choice but to drink and wash in water from ponds or even the puddles left in dried river beds. This can cause sickness and every day, 800 children lose their lives due to dirty water and poor sanitation. Together we can help change this.

“It’s been an uncertain year, but whatever life throws at us, clean water is something we all need to live and thrive. Through our Future on Tap appeal, we can all help get clean water to thousands of families around the world. A clean and reliable source of  water frees families from the burden of collecting water and helps improves lives whilst protecting them  from whatever the future holds.”

Find out more and donate at www.wateraid.org

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