Shambalans, will you Give It Up For Water?

A blog by Jon Shepherd of FRANK Water

“Is fizzy water allowed?”, asked a friend last night. She was questioning the rules for FRANK Water’s ‘Give it up for Water’ campaign.

No is the answer. And no to a slice of lime. And no to a drop of cordial. In fact, it’s a no to everything but pure H2O for 7 days.  It’s an unappealing prospect, given that most days I get through a couple of cafetieres of Lavazza red label (white with half a sugar). To me, that doesn’t seem that much over a whole day but it’s more than the recommended and it does draw attention. It’s an interesting challenge, only water for a week, and one I’m willing to accept. I’ll put caffeine and alcohol to one side and try to feel lucky that I have the luxury to do it. As I fight off withdrawal headaches and cravings for caffeine, it’ll be helpful to remember the important facts.

 

91 million people in India don’t have any access to clean water.

 

1,400 children die each day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and sanitation.

 

According to the United Nations Development Programme, an estimated 29.8% of Indians lived below poverty line in 2009-2010.  That’s 30% of the population (350 million people or 1 in 3) living on 75p a day.

 

I work with the poorest and most marginalised of this 30%. People who need basic services – the most basic of which is water.

Why are they so marginalised? There are a number of different reasons. Here’s one:

As members of a rural tribal community in Chhattisgarh, Shrimati Patel and her neighbours live so far off the beaten track that they’re almost entirely cut off from society. The villagers had never officially claimed the land they’d lived on for many years. They found it hard to completely settle, always fearing that the government would evict them from the place that they called home.

Along with her neighbours, Shrimati Patel is discouraged from mixing with people from higher castes. But in order to drink and cook with safe water, they had no choice but to walk the 5km to the nearest town to fetch water from a privately owned well. Eventually, social pressure from other townspeople meant the owner of the well banned the tribal women from using his water and they were left literally high and dry. They survived by using river water that was often contaminated by livestock, waste and washing.

Today, with support from the people of Shambala, the community has claimed its rights to the land they live on. The village has its own well. Families have safe water to drink and children are healthier. Women and children no longer have to walk into town to get water but can go out to work and attend school instead.

Give it up for Water is about two things. First, it’s about raising funds to continue this work (300,000 people in 200 villages now have safe water and sanitation). Second, it’s about raising awareness of the global water crisis and what we can do to redress the balance. And it’s about taking a few days out to remember that whilst drinking nothing but water is a chore for us, it’s a luxury for others.

So, on Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, Frank Water will be celebrating World Water Day by Giving it Up For Water. That’s no tea first thing, no mid-morning cappuccino, no diet coke breaks, no smoothies, milkshakes, lattes, herbal teas, glass of wine, pint of ale, cocktail with an umbrella in it. None of it. For 7 days.

AND (because there’s always an and!) we want YOU to join us. Get your family, friends, colleagues, club members, classmates to sign up to Give it Up For Water and encourage each through the tough times. Instead of spending out on fancy coffees, pints of lager and bottles of plonk, put the money you would have spent in a pot and donate it to FRANK Water at the end of the week. And, if you fall off the wagon, don’t despair. Pay a forfeit (£1 for every time you cave in) and get right back on it.

Give it up for water. Sign up today