Northumbrian Water help to stem flow of death abroad

PUBLISHED: 01:16 18 April 2011 | UPDATED: 21:33 20 February 2013

Alistair Baker at the outflow from Kielder Water, Northumberland

Alistair Baker at the outflow from Kielder Water, Northumberland

Access to safe drinking water is a right denied to millions of people. Alistair Baker explains how the North East's water supplier is helping to stem the flow of death around the world

We are so fortunate in this country. We turn on the tap and take it for granted that top quality, safe drinking water will flow. Water is the vital ingredient of a healthy life.


As our thoughts turn to booking summer holidays, there arent many countries in the world, even developed nations, where you can take a refreshing drink of water from a tap without worrying about the effect it might have on your health.


In the developing world, access to safe water to drink is literally a matter of life and death. Four thousand children die every day from diarrhoea caused by dirty water - thats one childs life lost every 20 seconds.


Across the world 884 million people dont have a safe water supply.
Its the same story for sewage treatment. We are so privileged to be able to flush the toilet and take it for granted that what comes naturally is dealt with, out of sight and out of mind, and treated so that whats left can be safely returned to the environment.


Lack of safe sanitation and knowledge about hygiene is a massive killer. Some 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation.


Its criminal in this day and age that so many millions of people in the world dont have access to the basic human rights of clean drinking water and safe toilets. And once people have water and sanitation they are the life-changing foundation stones on which they can build a decent life.
Working for a great water company like Northumbrian Water makes you really appreciate just how lucky we are - and the vital importance of water and sanitation.


Thats why we helped set up the international charity WaterAid in July 1981 and, as it marks its 30th anniversary, we celebrate reaching more than 13 million people with safe water and more than eight million with sanitation.


But with one in eight of the worlds population still without safe water and two fifths of the people in the world without adequate sanitation the scale of the challenge is as clear as the water which flows out of our taps every day.


In Northumbria, our employee fundraising committee, working with water company customers and supporters, has raised almost 4 million since 1996. Our work has also raised awareness of the desperate plight of people in Africa and Asia right to the very top of government in the House of Commons and down to the grass roots through our speakers giving talks to local groups.


Each year, dozens of fundraising activities are organised throughout the North East and this year, for example, were already selling tickets for tables at an extra special 30th anniversary ball being staged at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead on September 9.


To find out more about what is happening in our area contact a Northumbrian Water representative by email on wateraid@nwl.co.uk or call 0191 301 6713. For more information about WaterAid visit www.wateraid.org.


The author

Alistair Baker is Communications and PR Manager for Northumbrian Water. He has enjoyed award-winning careers in both journalism and public relations. Alistair is volunteer PR Officer for the Northumbria region of the international charity, WaterAid, and has visited Africa to witness its life-saving, and life-changing work there.

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