THREE People’s Postcode Lottery workers from Scotland have returned from an eye-opening trip to Malawi to see how players’ support for WaterAid is helping transform lives in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Laura Anderson, 37, Head of HR at the Edinburgh-based lottery organisation, joined colleagues Vicki Robinson and George Bowie in visiting communities and health centres in Machinga District where WaterAid has helped bring clean water, decent toilets and hygiene education.
Through the lottery, players have donated a total of £361 million to good causes since its launch in 2005. Since 2013, they have raised £9.25m for WaterAid’s lifesaving work.
One in three people in Malawi does not have access to clean water, while more than half the population has no decent toilet. The situation in healthcare facilities is equally difficult, with more than half lacking decent toilets, and one in five having no clean water.
The trio from People’s Postcode Lottery visited a health centre where women previously had to go outside to collect water, wash or relieve themselves after giving birth. Thanks to WaterAid’s Deliver Life programme, which is providing clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education in 16 health centres and maternity units, the staff and patients have clean water piped directly into the wards via solar-powered systems. Staff are also reducing the risk of infection through new hygiene practices.
The project also includes drilling 12 boreholes to deliver clean water for nearby villages, where women and children previously spent hours each day collecting dirty water. In the past year, the programme has reached 12,544 people with clean water and over 20,000 with decent toilets.
Laura, who lives in the Capital, described the trip to Africa, saying: “It was a real privilege to have been able to see the work WaterAid has done. When you’re at home, you’re aware of the fact that water is vital in life, and all the different things you need it for, but take it for granted.
“It was really eye-opening to see the difference this basic resource has made to an entire community, right through the generations – it really has transformed their lives.”
She added: “My favourite memories are dancing with the community and being welcomed into it, as well as how excited people were to tell us about the water facilities.
“They’ve got a real sense of ownership and pride of it.”
Elizabeth McKernan, from WaterAid Scotland, led the trip and said: “One in nine people around the world don’t have clean water close to home, while a staggering one in three have no decent toilet at home. Without these basic human rights, diseases spread fast – keeping children out of school and adults from earning a living, and claiming hundreds of young lives every single day. We are working towards a world where everyone everywhere has clean water and decent sanitation.”