Drinking Water Is a Human Right!
The organization Viva Con Agua is committed to providing people around the world with access to clean drinking water. The managing director Carolin Stüdemann talks about the most important projects, why Corona has made the problem even worse and what you need to know about virtual water
You and your organization are committed to giving people all over the world access to clean drinking water. Why is the problem still not solved in 2020?
The human right to water was only recognized ten years ago. Since then a little bit has changed and improved, but still almost 600 million people have no access to clean drinking water. That is more people than live in the entire EU. It is a global challenge and – as it often happens – there is a lack of money and commitment. Viva con Agua, together with partner organizations, has already improved the living conditions of many people, but it will still take some time until our vision ‘Water for all’ has become reality. But we believe that it is possible and we are working on it with great passion.
In which regions are the biggest shortages?
One would think that access to water is a problem especially in regions that are particularly dry. But the infrastructure is just as important. For example, we also support projects in Nepal, where it is sometimes very humid but where people have no means of collecting the water and, most importantly, keeping it clean.
What are your most important projects?
I would like to highlight one project in particular: In Ethiopia, where about 31 percent of the population has no access to an improved drinking water supply, there is the (colorfully designed) drilling equipment ‘John's Rig’, which will drill a total of about 200 wells in the next few years. In Uganda, there is a locally active organization called Viva con Agua Kampala, which is mainly active in schools and provides educational programs with lots of fun and the universal languages of music, art and sport. And in South Africa, we have also founded a new organization this year and for the first time implemented a completely separate/independent project. Over the next three years, we will provide 50 schools with access to water, toilets and hand washing facilities.
In our region, too, water is becoming scarce due to climate change and the groundwater levels are dropping. Do we also have to change our habits – and with that comes the question: Does saving water here help the rest of the world?
This summer, people in some places in Germany realized what it means when suddenly no more water comes out of the tap or the toilet flush no longer works and the fire department has to bring water. This can become a problem, particularly for agriculture. But we complain on a very high scale. We consume around 120 liters per person per day in Germany. In East Africa, consumption is more like 20 liters. But water that we save here does not help to improve conditions elsewhere. However, this can be achieved through conscious consumption, for example. After all, the 120 liters we use do not include the consumption of virtual water. This refers to water that is needed to produce food and other products, such as clothing. A great deal of virtual water is contained in coffee, beef, avocados or jeans, for example.
What are the main problems Viva con Agua is currently facing?
At present, clean water and good hygienic conditions are important preventions against Covid19 and an effective health protection. We have responded to the challenges of the pandemic in the project areas and have used available funds directly for prevention and, for example, set up mobile hand washing stations. Here in Germany, Corona has particularly affected our network activities, i.e. our core. A large part of our donations is the collection of deposit cups at festivals, concerts and sporting events. This has been completely eliminated this year. This loss of donations hits us hard and endangers the support of our water projects.
What else can you do besides donating?
Viva con Agua is committed to creating the access to clean drinking water. This is a human right. It is important to carry this message, to raise your voice for clean water. This can also be done, for example, by buying Viva con Agua mineral water. Moreover, everyone can get involved. We see ourselves as a platform where ideas for actions are welcome. For example, you can organize a donation run at the school, mobilize the company where you work or give a donation for Christmas. It is important to us that commitment is fun, that everyone has the opportunity to contribute their talent, to learn together and have a good time! We call this: All Profit!
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