WaterAid invites churches to give the gift of clean water this Christmas

WaterAid is inviting churches and community groups across the UK to support its Christmas Appeal, Future on Tap, so people in the world’s poorest places can unearth a clean, reliable source of water and build a brighter future for themselves. This year, as the UK faces continued restrictions, churches meeting virtually can join together to use WaterAid’s online resources, which include fundraising ideas and youth group activities.

WaterAid aims to raise £3 million to help transform thousands of lives in Ethiopia and across the world. If church groups give before 4 February 2021, their donation will be matched by the UK government, up to £2 million, doubling the impact in communities across Ethiopia.

Globally, 785 million people don’t have clean water. In Ethiopia, nearly two-thirds of people live without this basic human right, including those in Frat, where families spend hours each day collecting dirty water from a river at the bottom of a hill. 

The community, which is diverse but not divided with Christians and Muslims living side by side and supporting each other to stay strong in the face of adversity. However, our changing climate is making life harder, with unpredictable weather threatening crops – their only source of income. 

WaterAid’s Christmas appeal will help people like 12-year-olds Yenus and Ansha from Frat who spend hours every day fetching dirty water when they could be studying, helping fulfil their potential. 

For Yenus, even though each sip could lead to serious illness, it’s all his family has to drink, cook and wash with. Without a reliable source of water, his whole family is at the mercy of the changing climate. Yenus’ father recently lost his entire crop of chillies because the rains failed. Before that, there was too much rain that washed away all the crops in the village. 

At the school where Ansha and Yenus attend, they are often thirsty as there’s no water to drink and nowhere to wash their hands, leaving them vulnerable to disease. 

Ansha said:

“We go to collect water in the morning and so sometimes I’m late to school. If I miss lessons, I have to catch up from friends, which is difficult. It’s hard work collecting water; we usually help each other to pick up the jerry cans as they’re very heavy. If I didn’t have to spend time collecting water, I’d have more time to play with my friends and do my homework.”

In partnership with the local community, WaterAid will dig a borehole to reach clean spring water, which will then be pumped uphill using renewable solar energy to a new 75,000-litre reservoir. By raising £140, churches could pay to install a solar panel, while £620 could build a handwashing point at a school.

Match funding from the UK government will be used to bring sustainable water, toilet and hygiene facilities to communities in Berbere, which like Frat, is one of the poorest and most climate-vulnerable areas in Ethiopia. The project will include constructing flood-resistant community water points and accessible water and sanitation facilities in schools and health centres, as well as training communities to manage the facilities.

By supporting Future on Tap, church congregations can make sure communities like Frat and Berbere can rely on clean water, today and every day.

Marcus Missen, Director of Communications and Fundraising at WaterAid said:

“Christmas will be very different this year but we can all still come together, even if just virtually, to help make a difference to people’s lives across the world.

“A reliable source of clean water improves lives and livelihoods, and is the first line of defence against the impact of our changing climate. Clean water means future generations can stay safe and healthy, whatever tomorrow brings. Now more than ever, we need to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a normal part of everyday life for everyone, everywhere. We invite church congregations to play their part and join our Future on Tap campaign to help thousands get access to clean water they can rely on today and every day.”

To support the appeal, WaterAid has produced a range of free educational and fundraising resources which can be used virtually if churches are closed: a case study, poster, youth group activities, fundraising ideas and a 2021 wall calendar for groups to display. 

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