Water scarcity in Africa hits home following Thames Water trip

LONDON, UK, March 2, 2010 -- UK utility continues to back charity after witnessing clean water and sanitation shortages in East Africa...

LONDON, UK, March 2, 2010 -- Major UK water utility Thames Water said it will continue to support WaterAid's work in Africa following a week-long tour in Tanzania where the firm witnessed the lack of basic human rights of clean water and sanitation.

The visit followed the company donating £630,000 to the charity, which it will use to help provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to people in the East Africa region, including Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.

“Seeing first hand that thousands of people still live without such basic life essentials is really upsetting,” said Steve Shine, chief operating officer at the company.

“It’s particularly hard to accept given my day job. After seeing women with children on their backs digging the sun-baked ground to install a water pipe, my immediate thought was to get on the phone and fly my teams over to help these people.

“I tried to picture what it would be like in London – seeing all our customers digging their own trenches. The water these women were fetching was absolutely filthy too.”

Shine added: “We also visited a town that had been transformed by having clean water and proper sanitation. One lady now has her waste taken away, rather than having to tip it into the streets. We also spoke to a school headmaster who explained that they kept the water tap padlocked - that was how precious the clean water was to people, and they respected that."

Andrew Cook, director of communications and fundraising at WaterAid, added: “This visit to Tanzania enabled us to show Thames Water exactly how their hard work and generosity has helped transform the lives of some of the world's poorest people, bringing safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to their communities."

About WaterAid
WaterAid works to provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to people living in poverty in 26 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific Region. Last year they reached over one million people with safe water and over two million people with sanitation.

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