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Walk for Water Rights This March

 

On 19-22 March 2011, the world will come together to promote global water and sanitation rights for The World Walks for Water. As we’ve discussed previously, there are currently 884 million people lacking access to clean water, and 2.6 billion who don’t have a safe toilet. This means that 4,000 children die every day from diarrhoea contracted from contaminated water, 3,000 of which are in Africa alone.

The World Walks for Water is asking us all to walk 6 kilometres to stand in solidarity with those in developing countries who have to walk that distance each day just to access water. And even then the water is often dirty.

But this global event is about more than just bringing awareness to this devastating issue. The walk will also demand that politicians in the North and the South keep their promises and step up their efforts to ensure water and sanitation for all people, everywhere.

This effort is particularly essential in the UK where the Department for International Development’s (DFID) announcement recently of their aid review revealed that they are not making water and sanitation a priority.

WaterAid described in their newsroom that “in promising to provide access to drinking water and improved sanitation to an equivalent number to the population of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next four years, the [UK] Government is set to reach only one percent of the world's poorest people without access to these basic human rights."

We need to continue pressuring our governments to accept that aid for these issues would provide a huge return on investment - for every £1 invested in water and sanitation, £8 is returned in economic returns through increased productivity (UNDP) and would prevent up to 1.4 million child deaths every year (UNICEF).

Join the Walk
You can still sign up to organise your own Walk for Water or you can join a walk in your area. Together this month we can help motivate others to take action in achieving a world where no one goes without clean water and adequate sanitation.

Posted by Ashli Alberty in What Can I Do?, Water & Sanitation for column Action Stories on Mar 14th 2011, 08:53

7 Billion and Counting

 

In the next few months, the world’s population will tick over 7 billion people. In this fantastic clip from National Geographic, we see how, why, and what that means for us.

The clip raises the challenges of water and sanitation, and leads us to ponder how the world will cope with an expected population of 9 billion by mid-century. But we would like to take these thoughts a step further to ask, “what can we do about it?”

As we’ve noted previously, around 884 million people lack adequate access to safe and clean drinking water and over 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. One of the targets of Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals is to halve these numbers by 2015. Below are a few ways we can make that happen.

  • Support organisations working to improve access to safe and clean water and adequate sanitation in a sustainable way. NGOs like WaterAid work with communities using a mixture of low-cost technologies to deliver lasting results. They also have projects that empower and provide a platform for local citizens in developing countries to hold their governments accountable on providing the adequate water and sanitation services they are entitled to.
  • Encourage governments to prioritise water and sanitation issues by committing good aid and resources. NGOs such as Pump Aid and End Water Poverty have global campaigns and events that the public can participate in that put pressure on governments to do their part to stop the water and sanitation crisis. This crisis is currently killing 4,000 children every day with diarrhoea, a completely preventable and treatable disease. Many would be surprised to know that this means diarrhoea kills more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
  • Help advocate for a more sustainable use of water resources in agriculture. The FAO estimates that 70% of global water use is related to agricultural activity. Organisations like Water Footprint are trying to promote the idea of global water saving through trade by encouraging countries with low water productivity to import water-intensive products from sites with high water productivity and export commodities that are less water intensive. In plain language – don’t grow rice in deserts. We need to adopt more sustainable uses of water resources for agricultural activity if we want to avoid an eventual global water crisis.

Whether there are 7 billion or 9 billion people on our planet, seeing an end to extreme poverty is only possible if we improve access to safe and clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. This is because these issues not only threaten lives, but also effect education and livelihoods. WaterAid estimates that 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases, and that the average household in rural Africa spends an average of 26% of their time fetching water (taking away from work and leisure time).

We can each do our part to educate others on the importance of these issues so that we not only halve the amount of people lacking access to safe and clean water and adequate sanitation by 2015, but eventually see that number reach zero.

Posted by Ashli Alberty - GPP Management Intern in Water & Sanitation for column Issue Analysis on Jan 24th 2011, 10:38

GPP Supporter Questions to Nestle - Responses 2

 

Recently we met with the team at Nestle UK, and they offered to answer some of your questions about how they work. After gathering your suggestions on Facebook, we passed the five most liked questions onto Nestle. These are the answers from Nestle's Corporate Affairs team for questions 3, 4 and 5. The answers to the first two questions are published here. Our thanks to Alison and Sam at Nestle for being open to such dialogue.

3/ Clarice Fell: Hi there, so great what you guys do. I recently took a 4 month trip to Uganda Africa. I saw where coffee is made. Where the beans are grown. Nescafe and other major coffee brands buy their beans from there. They pay next to nothing for it the workers live in extreme poverty. The companies put massive taxes on the coffee and charge us massive prices. I don't know how one of the world’s biggest exports leaves it's workers in poverty. I know that this same senario is like for chocolate the coco beans are sort the same way. If anything ask them to provide better pay and living conditions to the ones who actually grow the coco beans. As without them there wouldn't even be chocolate. Ask them to follow Cadbury’s league and make it fair trade. Thanks any way for all the hard work. Praying for justice for our world. :)

For more than 30 years, we have been working with our coffee suppliers to encourage sustainable farming and improve the living standards of coffee-farming communities. To do this we need to address global issues such as food and water security and work with coffee farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their produce as this is crucial to increasing their income.

In August 2010 Nestlé launched The Nescafé Plan, a global initiative which aims to help guarantee a long term supply of quality coffee produced with a lower environmental impact. The plan will be implemented with the support of Rainforest Alliance, other partners from the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and the 4C Association (Common Code for the Coffee Community Association).

The plan outlines our commitments in three key areas; coffee farming, coffee production and consumption and is backed by an investment of £213 million until 2020. Similar to The Cocoa Plan, The Nescafé Plan accelerates and expands programmes of support that we have been involved in for decades. We believe it will help us guarantee a long term supply of quality coffee by making coffee farming more attractive to the next generation of farmers and enable them to produce coffee with a lower environmental impact. Information is available for consumers on both www.nestle.com and http://www.nescafe.com/sustainability-uk.

4/ Jenny Jones: I live in Australia and if I see something with Nestle attached to it I deliberately don't buy it. So my question would be: "when will you step up and lead the world in becoming a fair company that puts your fellow humans in front of your massive profit? I'm sure you can afford to do this. That's when I will start supporting your products again."

Nestlé’s basic business principle is that we can only create value for our shareholders if we at the same time create value for society and we have identified three focus areas where, for Nestlé, business and societal value creation can be optimized and these are nutrition, water and rural development. We call this Creating Shared Value (CSV).

About half of our factories are in developing countries and we source about 70% of our raw materials from these rural areas. CSV means that more than just being present in these regions, we are actively leveraging our presence to reduce poverty, improve nutrition and health, and preserve the environment for future generations.

We have recently published a report which outlines over 290 business activities and programmes which support one or more of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.community.nestle.com/Pages/mdg-landing.aspx) which you may be interested in looking at. The projects range from supporting female livestock workers in Pakistan to helping farmers in our supply chain reduce the environmental impact of the crops they produce.

5/ Awal Ahmed: I want to know what measures they have in their contract to ensure environmental sustainable production methods at the community level and what they are doing to reduce communities vulnerability to climate change?

Environmental responsibility is a key component of our Corporate Business Principles and Supplier Codes (http://bit.ly/ieh2aB and http://bit.ly/dKZ4TH). As a company our aim is to not just offer products with the lowest environmental impact compared to alternatives but to work throughout our supply chains to reduce the environmental impacts of farming and crop production and promote sustainable agriculture. A key component of our major initiatives such as The Cocoa Plan and The Nescafé Plan is to help farmers produce crops in a way that minimises the environmental impact while maximising yields and to help them deal with challenges such as climate change. For example we supply coffee and cocoa farmers with high potential plantlets which produce earlier and are bred to be disease resistant. We have also highlighted water as a priority issue. Aside from our global commitment as a founding signatory of the CEO Water Mandate an initiative led by the United Nations Global Compact, we are committed to improve our efforts in sustainable water management across the business www.nestle.com/csv/environment. As agriculture uses two thirds of the world’s water we also work with farmers and suppliers to encourage effective water management – in courntries ranging from Italy to Cote d’Ivoire. Our drip irrigation project in Nicaragua is a good example of working collaboratively to develop a low-cost drip irrigation system to be used in plantations where we source coffee as part of a public private partnership between Nestlé, ECOM, the Rainforest Alliance and International Development Enterprises IDE covering 1500 coffee farmers. Through the sustainable use and control of water we can accelerate plant growth and achieve better quality crops even during water-stress periods. You can read more about this and other projects in our MDG Report www.community.nestle.com/mdg7 or on the section on water on www.nestle.com.

A response from WaterAid UK

 

Yesterday we posted a blog from one of our readers about their views on a recent WaterAid UK TV advert. We offered them the chance to respond yesterday evening resceived the following from them.

Our thanks go out to WaterAid for agreeing to respond and put forward their views to widen the debate.

WaterAid helps some of the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water, hygiene education and sanitation, which, as the article correctly states, are essential to end extreme poverty.

As an organization we are committed to the people we serve, and have a strict ethical policy on the procurement and use of images. We are passionate about protecting the dignity of the people we work with, as well as portraying an accurate picture of our work and its effects. We only photograph and film in communities where we work, or are going to work, and ensure that we have the consent of the people in the photographs and that they understand why we are taking images of them, and what they will be used for.

Our advertising allows us the opportunity to raise awareness of the situation, as well as being a means to raise vital funds for our work. The article is right in saying we do need to grab the UK audience’s attention because it is a challenge to find people willing to give £2 a month. But it is a challenge we have to tackle head on if we are to make that difference.

This is why the advert focuses on the very real and urgent need of 884 million people who are living without clean water – showing the need is an essential part of this narrative. It may be shocking, but the reality is shocking and we can’t shy away from showing this if we are to change it.

With our advertising we have to find an instant way to engage with people who are not always aware of the issues that face so many people in the world. We have found that people do react to a simple presentation of the facts: that 4,000 children are dying every day from diarrhoea. But the advert does also show the community building their own wells and pumps, which is a key way in which WaterAid works; helping people to help themselves.

We have to be aware of our audiences and tailor our narrative approach accordingly. We have actually tested other approaches that were less need focused, one just earlier this year, but it drove four times less response than this advert. We have a duty to our supporters to ensure every single penny we spend on advertising makes a good return – normally £4 to every pound spent .

There is an increasing debate over how images of poverty are used, and this is one that WaterAid welcomes, as our aim is to help people to lead a life of dignity, free of poverty.

Posted by WaterAid UK in Water & Sanitation, Aid, Poverty for column Perspectives on Poverty on Nov 25th 2010, 07:27

WaterAid UK and Poverty Porn

 

Emily Scale is a reader of our blog, and contacted us about the video featured below. We asked her to write up her thoughts - and here they are.

We contacted WaterAid UK to give them the opportunity to comment on this blog, and have published their response here.

Over the past few months, I’ve been following the Perspectives on Poverty blogs from the Global Poverty Project and I’ve become increasingly aware of how much poverty pornography is used in adverts I see online or on the television. Today I saw the below TV advert from WaterAid UK.

Although a lot of the advertising done by Water Aid has been really effective without the use of poverty porn, this advert is a good example of everything that I think is wrong in the way charities advertise.

The opening line of the advert - “you might find this film shocking, but please watch” - does forewarn you of what’s to come - and I’m sure will succeed in its aim of grabbing viewers attention.

The runtime of the advert totals a minute and a half. The first minute of this consists of a series of clips of desperate, poverty-stricken children drinking dirty water punctuated with text conveying facts like “today 4000 children will die”. The children are in ripped clothes and there is fairly obvious fiddling with the colour to beef up the brown levels – the colour of the dirty water and desperation – and to round up we are given a generic soundtrack of desperation.

In the final 30 seconds we see the amazing effects of me donating as little as £2 a month. Along with the targeted benefit of building the wells, it would seem we can spread a new sense of colour through the world – enabling them to wear new brightly coloured clothes and make the sun shine brightly.

I understand that an advert needs to grab the attention of the public and only has 90 seconds to do it in but this really screamed out poverty pornography to me – and it’s a stereotypical example of the of charity adverts we see today.

I of course do not want to rip into a charity that are trying to give people clean water because that is necessary in helping to end extreme poverty.

Water Aid work in 26 countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific Area. They work with district governments as well as local NGOs a church based company and a public water utility company.

They fix existing water system rather than building new ones and they give the communities the control in the planning and monitoring etc. therefore giving them the knowledge on how to upkeep the system so the aid is much more long term.

The work they do is really important but why do they feel the need to use poverty pornography that strips the communities of their dignity portraying them as unable to look after themselves and purely dependant on our aid?

If you would like to get in contact with us to suggest content for our blogs, email us at blog@globalpovertyproject.com

Posted by Emily Scale in Aid, Poverty, Water & Sanitation for column Perspectives on Poverty on Nov 24th 2010, 10:06