ON THE GROUND: WaterAid

Scheme: Projects to establish clean water and effective sanitation in 15 African and Asian countries

Funding: A mixture of general fundraising, public funds, trading profit and water industry-related funds. Of £9.9 million raised in 2001, £2.5 million was from covenants, gift aid and legacies and £2.3 million from public funds

Objective: To provide safe water and effective sanitation around the world.

Water and sanitation are the first steps to escaping poverty, says WaterAid, the UK's only major charity dedicated to providing these basic requirements to people in the developing world.

A quarter of the world's population - a billion people - does not have safe drinking water, claims the charity. Two billion do not have access to basic sanitation. As a consequence, a person dies every six seconds.

Inadequate sanitation is responsible for 15 per cent of all child deaths in developing countries. "It is all very well providing education but people's first need is water in order to keep them alive,"says spokeswoman Sharon Brand-Self.

Members of the water industry formed WaterAid in 1981 as part of a United Nations initiative. The charity has retained its ties with private water companies.

Now in its 21st year, WaterAid has brought clean water to five million people. It now runs projects in 15 African and Asian countries, where the cost of providing a lifetime's safe water for someone is as little as £15. In these countries, women walk an average of 6km to collect water.

The charity's projects make a huge difference where implemented. Where it has established water and sanitation systems, it has achieved a 55 per cent reduction in child mortality. Simply enabling people to wash their hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhoea diseases by a third.

"We always work through local partner organisations, such as the church, or tribes, or governments, to make sure the system we put in place is sustainable,

says Brand-Self.

The charity provides low-cost technology as well as training in maintenance and repair.

On 21 July this year, it will have "golden ticket

runners in the British 10km Open Road Race.

It hopes to raise £21,000 with the event to celebrate the charity's 21st birthday.

WaterAid employs 60 staff in London, Scotland, Leeds, Birmingham and Bath. It employs 30 more people overseas.

In general, WaterAid's work is not needed in the UK, although it does call on its volunteers for one British event each year when the need for sanitation is overwhelming - Glastonbury Festival. "We have the best latrines there,

says Brand-Self.

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