Workers from five water companies in the South East of England are taking part in a two-week relay to carry a single bucket of water 330 miles from Portsmouth to Folkestone to highlight the struggle some people in other countries go through to get water.
The volunteers are supporting WaterAid’s Bucket Challenge (#BucketBrigade2019), which runs from the 27th of August to the 10th of September. The water companies taking part on this initiative are Portsmouth Water, South East Water, Southern Water, SES Water and Affinity Water.
By carrying the bucket for the equivalent of six and a half marathons, the water company workers hope to build more support for WaterAid’s crucial work globally to increase access to clean water for some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world.
WaterAid is a charity formed by the UK water industry in 1981, which now has offices and programmes in 28 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its work helps communities establish sustainable water supplies and toilets close to home, and promotes safe hygiene practices. For 1 in 10 people around the world getting a drink of water isn’t as simple as turning on a tap – they have no choice but to make long, tiring, and often dangerous journeys to remote water sources.
The water company workers taking part in the Bucket Challenge hope that raising awareness of the issue will encourage more people to get involved with WaterAid, whether by donating to help fund projects or by volunteering for events.
The volunteers will transport the bucket of water across each of their supply areas using only people power – no vehicles are allowed. They can conquer the 330-mile journey by foot, bicycle, canoe – anything goes as long as there is no engine.
Matt Crockford, who is leading a 7-strong SES Water team for 26 miles across its supply area, said:
“This is such a great cause to draw attention to – especially as getting a drink of water so readily is something we take for granted every day. Our team will walk and cycle over two days to deliver the water rucksack to South East Water in Tonbridge next week. With the other water companies’ involvement and the support from the general public, colleagues and customers, we are raising much needed funds for WaterAid UK to make a difference to people’s lives.”
Sally Lambert, Water Industry Partnerships Manager at WaterAid, said:
“We all know that water is a precious resource that we cannot take for granted, and we are delighted to see water companies working together to raise awareness of this important issue through the ‘Bucket Brigade’ event. The support from their fundraising will help transform the lives of those living in some of the world’s poorest communities for good.”
Southern Water CEO Ian McAulay said:
“We’re proud to be partnering with other water companies as part of the Bucket Brigade Challenge for Water Aid. The first of its kind, the campaign is a great way to raise vital funds and awareness for those who have no choice but to walk miles each day for water.”
The aim is to expand the Bucket Challenge event in the future to involve all water companies by 2021, moving the bucket from John O’ Groats to Land’s End for WaterAid’s 40th Birthday.
The water industry has continued to provide active support to WaterAid throughout its history. For example, Thames Water’s project Thames Loves Malawi is raising funds to deliver lasting change in two small towns – Kasungu and Mponela in Malawi. The campaign has so far helped over 6,000 people in Malawi – one of the world’s poorest countries – get clean water every day. Yorkshire Water is working with WaterAid to help bring clean water to 130,000 people in Ethiopia. Severn Trent has been working with WaterAid to support their Toilets Save Lives Petition, to give everyone, everywhere, access to toilets and clean water by 2030. Scottish Water is working to improve health and sanitation in vulnerable schools and communities in the Southern Province of Rwanda, as part of the Nyamagabe Alba Project.