15 October 2008

Walking for water

The Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) held its Annual Conference on the 15 October at the Forest of Arden and a splendid occasion it was too.

This year the conference theme was 'Sustainable Solutions - Awareness, Engagement & Action' and I was invited to say a few words about a charity I support - Wells for India (WFI).

It is involved in delivering Sustainable Solutions - Awareness, Engagement & Action at the sharp end - in Rajasthan. And as the charity's work is centered on the conservation and management of water, something close to the heart of all bathroom companies for obvious reasons - there was a certain synergy between the Association and the charity.

Rajasthan is not a rich region of India. In the world 1 billion people live below the $1 day Poverty Line. One third are in India and 15 million are in Rajasthan itself.

The region is not short of water; annual monsoons deliver loads of it. The problem is that there are months between the monsoons and because of bad irrigation, most of it soaks away before it can do any good. The end result is that many women have to walk up to five miles each day just to find water for their families.

Working with local volunteers, WFI uses low-tech solutions such as small dams made of local stones to retain as much water as possible so that it can be used for irrigation and for the local people to drink. In the 20 years it has been working in the region, WFI has brought water relief to almost one million people.

Possibly because I have spent over 25 years writing about kitchens and bathrooms - the two areas in the home that consume most of the UK's supply of water - I was struck by the fact that many of the women in that region will walk at least five miles every day, in all sorts of weather, to get something I can get simply by crossing the room.

I became involved with WFI last year and with a group of friends, walked five miles carrying a bucket of water. It was a fun thing to do on a sunny afternoon after a good lunch - but every day in all weathers? I don't think so!

We are dong the same thing on Sunday 19 October and several of the delegates have pledged to sponsor the walk. Most have opted to do so by my page on the JustGiving website, and if all the pledges hold true, we should top last year's collection of £800.

One of the great things about WFI's work is that a small amount of money can make a real difference. For example £25-£50 can keep an entire village supplied with water throughout a drought and jst £5 pays for the water for a family through the hot summer months.

I'll keep you posted on our progress - complete with a picture - but meanwhile, if you would like to find out more about my support for WFI, you will find some info on my website at http://www.gjmedits.com/page10/index.html.

Best foot forward as they say.

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