We know that clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene should be normal for everyone everywhere.
But, today, millions of people in Malawi have their access denied, simply because of who they are, how much money they have, or where they live. Lacking access to basic human rights stops people having an equal chance to be healthy, educated and financially secure.
World Water Day is a huge opportunity for us to harness the power and commitment of all our colleagues, partners and customers to come together and highlight this crisis, calling on Governments to put water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and Sustainable Goal 6 (SDG6) at the top of their agendas.
Thames Loves Malawi
Today, 1 in 3 people in Malawi lack clean water and more than half of the population still have nowhere decent to go to the toilet.
We know taps and toilets are relatively simple to install. The bigger challenge is changing how these services are planned, delivered and managed to make a lasting change.
Between us, we have the commitment, experience, resourcefulness and connections to change millions more lives – until everyone everywhere has what so many of us take for granted. Together we can do it.
Naomi Mwale, 25, fetching water from a new water kiosk in Chiteyeye, Kasungu, Malawi, February 2019.
Naomi, 25, is a mother of two children from Chiteyeye, a big community in the Kasungu District of Malawi. Life has changed for the community in Chiteyeye as a new water kiosk was constructed in the area, thanks to Thames Loves Malawi, and it has reduced the distance people have to travel in order to fetch water.
Naomi said: “When the taps are running, everyone is happy. Most women don’t have to walk long distances. It is such a relief to have water close by. Life becomes so good and enjoyable.
“I am thankful for this intervention. We no longer walk long distances every day and spend more time fetching water. Please do the same for others who desperately need similar help. There are a lot of people who still walk very long distances today fetching water.”
Zabeta Dzonzi, 69, Chiswe Village, Mponela, February, 2019.
Zabeta Dzonzi, usually stays alone in her small thatched house located on the outskirts of Chiswe village in Mponela. Having only one room in her house, she looks after some of her grandchildren when they visit her during school holidays. She also takes care permanently of three grandchildren whose parents have passed away.
Her community is haunted by lack of clean water. Every day is a struggle for the precious liquid, which is a vital ingredient in almost everything people do in that area. Shallow wells usually dry up within few months after the rainy season.
The nearest source of water is Kasangadzi river, which is a 20 minute walk away from the village.
Accessing the river is highly dangerous as the entry point at the river bank is very steep. This makes it difficult to carry a water bucket on the head.
Apart from supplying water to the surrounding communities, the river is also a source of life for a lot of animals such as cattle and dogs. The water itself has a lot of algae and other planktons that further contaminates the precious liquid.
Zabeta said: “I have been a resident here since 1978. My life has been full of struggles due to water problems. Supporting my family has never been easy. I had to work very hard trying to get my children educated. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, most of them did not finish their school and ended up married and then moved out of this village.
“It pains me to see them uneducated just like me. It has been a cycle of poverty and anguish within our family. My wish is having an opportunity to work for the betterment of my grandchildren now. They deserve a better future. The only problem is that we spend most of our little resources trying to treat water. Diarrhea is a common disease in our family.
“Usually when we don’t have money to buy chlorine, we end up drinking dirty water that makes us sick. This results in us spending more time visiting the hospital. It is not healthy living like this.
“If we had clean water, am sure I would live the rest of my life happy. Happy not just for me, but to also see my grandchildren grow in a good environment. I don’t want them to experience the same challenges I have faced. They deserve a better life.”
The Thames Loves Malawi project seeks to increase sustainable access, use and management of improved water and sanitation services in the low income areas of Kasungu and Mponela.
The overall purpose of the project is to improve the WASH conditions in the respective districts by mobilising the communities to end open defecation by constructing household level toilets, providing water supply schemes as an incentive and through thorough health and hygiene campaigns for long-term sustainable behaviour changes.
Share your stories
Please do remember to share your stories, activities and photographs on Yammer, remembering to use the hashtags #WorldWaterDay #WWD2019.
We are proud to support WaterAid’s mission to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. With your continued support, we can make it happen.
Happy World Water Day!
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Photo credit: Koddy Mendez Ahhh Pancake Day! The one day of the year where you can get away with having pancakes for dinner! (or all day)
A very sweet and savoury treat, whether you like chocolate sauce or maple syrup – we can save that debate for another time.
One thing you should remember, after you cook scrumptious pancake, what should you do with the oil?
As you know, when cooking oil gets dumped down the drain, it contributes to horrendous fatbergs, which block our sewers.
What can you do to help our Sewper Heroes? Glad you asked!
Instead of pouring fats and oils down the sink, collect them in a container (such as a yogurt pot or jam jar) and leave them to cool down.
Once set, you can scoop them out and pop them straight in the bin.
Your local council may also have a special way to dispose of fat, oil and grease. Please check with them for more information.
Now let’s get on with the fun facts about Pancake Day (useless trivia to impress your mates!)
Did you know…
The most flips anyone has ever done with a pancake: 349 flips in two minutes! That’s some savvy wrist action right there.
The Guinness Book of Records for the most pancakes served in eight hours is 34,818.
We all have our quirks when it comes to toppings, but some of the most unusual toppings turned out to be sour cream and caviar, ketchup and mustard, peanut butter mixed with ice cream, cream cheese and strawberries.
The famous playwright William Shakespeare loved pancakes so much; he mentioned them in some of his plays. (All’s Well That Ends Well and As You Like It)
In England, we use an unbelievable 52 million eggs on Pancake Day! That’s 22 million more than any other day.
If you’re still looking for a recipe, don’t worry, I got you covered!
Allergy Free Pancakes (Egg, Milk and Gluten Free)
Fool Proof Tradition English Pancakes
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Did you know that every day more than 15 million in London and the Thames Valley flush or drain 2.8 billion litres of used water for treatment? This is where our Sewper Heroes come in, to help keep things flowing down underneath the street and deep in our sewers.
One of our Sewper Heroes from the ads watched our 'Fatberg Autopsy - Secret of the Sewers' documentary and was actually inspired to learn more and subsequently apply for a role, “I’ve been a sewage flusher for nearly a year now, I saw the documentary on TV about the fatbergs and the people working in the sewers and it really caught my interest, so I had a look on Google to read more about the job and I saw their were vacancies, so I applied and got the job.” Our Sewper Heroes clear out 75000 blocked sewer drains each year, you wouldn’t believe the stuff they find! One of their pet peeves, to put it mildly is wet wipes, it’s best to bin your wet wipes and not flush them down the loo. Unlike toilet paper, they don’t dissolve. Wet wipes cause…you guessed it - FATBERGS! But that isn't all they find down there... They say you learn something new every day, one of our Sewper Heroes pointed out the weirdest thing they ever encountered, “One of the weirdest things you might find down the sewers are the dead rats, for some reason when they die the gasses in their bodies make them inflate, so there are massive swollen dead rats floating around which is pretty nasty!”
It doesn't stop there! Missing something from your underwear drawer? Finding items like these in our sewers certainly triggers the imagination! What do you think the story behind these undergarments could be? Comment below!
Learn more about how you can help #FightTheFatberg
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I got a chance to interview one of our beauty influencers from our #FightTheFatberg campaign, the lovely Shahed Alsh. As you know, wet wipes contribute to disgusting fatbergs. If you don’t believe me, check out what our sewper heroes found last year!
Instead of flushing your wet wipes, just put them in the bin.
A fatberg caused by wet wipes and other bits that should not be flushed down the loo
Peta: What was the first thing that popped in your head when you heard of the fatberg?
Shahed: I visualised little monsters ruining our water, and questioned how much damage we were doing to our sewers/water without realising it.
Peta: What made you want to participate in our #FightTheFatberg campaign?
Shahed: I use makeup wipes on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day as I wear makeup every day to my workplace. I never knew the consequences of flushing them down the toilet & I'm sure rarely anyone who uses makeup wipes would know the consequences. For me, showing people that they could reduce the formation of these Fatbergs just by throwing the wipes in the bin is important - because makeup wipes are a part of every makeup fanatic's routine.
Peta: Were you aware that wet wipes are a big contributor to the fatberg?
Shahed: I wasn't aware prior to the campaign. Fortunately I've never flushed makeup wipes, however I know lots of people that do - especially people with busy lifestyles, i.e full time students, workers. I felt the importance of projecting the issue to everyone - showing them that they might be doing something that's damaging our water without them even realising it. It saddened me to hear that we are causing this issue when the solution is so simple.
Peta: What sort of reaction did you get from your followers?
Shahed: I received a lot of messages asking me what the Fatberg is. It made me realise that lots of people are simply not aware of what they are causing which is why they're not thinking before they act. I'm sure now after reading and researching about it, they're going to take more care of where they decide to discard their wipes.
Peta: I noticed in your post, you mentioned that even though you bin overflows with wet wipes, you still throw them away. Do you think that’s why some people flush them down the toilet, because they take up space in the bin?
Shahed: Yes, of course. People definitely see it as the easier option, rather than filling up their bins & having to take the bin out, especially when most people have busy lifestyles.
Peta: Thank you for doing such an awesome job raising awareness about not flushing wet wipes down the toilet, what’s your biggest takeaway from participating in our #FightTheFatberg campaign?
Shahed: To continue to raise awareness about the issue: this is our water that we need to look after & maintain. We are ultimately all responsible for the quality of our water & any damage we may do to our sewers. To also encourage people to image search the Fatberg - so they could see exactly what we are causing to our sewers! #binit
Learn more on how you can #FightTheFatberg
Keep up to day with Shahed and all her adventures on Instagram!
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As part of our #FatTheFatberg campaign, we recommend you put your fats and cooking oil in a glass jar and bin it. But did you know you can use some fats to make fat balls for birds?
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is happening from 26 th to 28 th January (this weekend) and I got a great fat ball recipe (thanks to the RSPB) your feathered friends will absolutely love!
I got a chance to interview Jamie Wvyer from RSPB, who provided some helpful tips on what sort of fats you should use and avoid.
Peta: Which fats are appropriate to use when making fat balls for birds?
Jamie: When you’re making fat balls for birds, what you need is fairly solid fats – suet and lard. The kind of thing in warmish weather will stay solid.
Peta: I understand there’s some fats people should avoid using because they are harmful to birds, which ones are they?
Jamie: That’s right, so when you use fat from cooking, the problem with that is - it’s runny and you got meat juices/blood blended into it. When you put it out in your garden it smears on birds’ feathers. And the reason that’s bad, it blocks their feathers from the ability to stay healthy, especially this time of year. It’s very hard for them to clean it off, keep warm and to keep their feathers waterproof.
Peta: What sort of nutritional benefits do fat balls have for birds and how does that contribute to their overall health?
Jamie: In winter they need to maintain their body temperature and building up a layer of fat is particularly a good idea for them. You will notice when you put a variety of food out for them all year around, the intake of fat is much greater in winter. They tend to eat a lot more fat when it’s cold.
Peta: What sort of fat ball add-ons are popular among birds?
Jamie: They tend to look for insect protein, I find breaking up pieces of meal worms is a good idea. But you can also seeds, if you got bits in your kitchen, there’s no harm in throwing in cheese, dry fruit is also a good option. But I must be clear you should avoid using dry fruit in the garden, if you got cats or dogs because it can be very bad for them.
Photo Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com) Peta: Could you clarify if peanut butter is ok to use? Or would you avoid any nut butters?
Jamie: It depends on the ingredients, you can use peanut butter, but I would look very carefully at the ingredients just in case there might be a chance it might smear on their feathers. The nuts are obviously the key parts; it’s probably much easier to just put nuts out in the garden. But again, look at the peanut butter ingredients; to see if it’s suitable for birds. It’s not something we would recommend, but there is some goodness there.
Peta: Can you tell me any special activities RSPB are planning for the Big Garden Birdwatch?
Jamie: Yes, well the Big Garden Birdwatch is a special activity in itself, this year in 2019; we’re celebrating 40 years of the Big Garden Birdwatch! It runs over three days, at the end of January. Anyone can take part in it, it’s free and it’s actually great fun as well. You can take part the 26 th to the 28 th of January; it involves sitting by your window, looking into your garden or heading to local green space. You keep a record of the highest number of species of birds you might see at any one time. If you have a robin popping in or two robins popping in later in the day, it would be the two robins you would count. And you send your details onto us of what you recorded and from there we can build up a big national picture of what birds are sparring across the country.
If you need want to venture outside your garden, why not check out our reservoirs and sites? If you're participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch, post your pictures in the comments below!
Photo credit: RSPB
Speedy Bird Cake recipe
Safe food for birds
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Fiona Price, Chief Executive Age UK Berkshire
If you've been paying attention to our Twitter timeline today, Thames Water and UKPN held a joint conference at Age UK London, where we got to showcase a variety of different ways we support our most vulnerable customers. Thames Water offers priority services to our vulnerable customers. I caught up with Fiona to talk about our partnership with Age UK Berkshire.
Peta: Can you take me back, how’d this partnership form between Age UK Berkshire and Thames Water?
Fiona: We were invited to go along and meet the Thames Water team following a discussion they had with our local voluntary sector organisational group- Reading Voluntary Action. They were keen to meet local charities that could support and spread the word about the priority services register. As they are a very local company to us we were keen to go along and chat about how we could work together.
Peta: What sort of positive benefits have you seen since partnering with Thames Water?
Fiona: We have seen several benefits; our knowledge and therefore the information that we pass onto the older people we support about the priority register has improved. We have also linked up as a 3 way partnership with SSEN to spread the word. Thames water have also been great at supporting some of the local events in the area like Reading Older persons day Event held in October every year.
Thames Water & UKPN Conference (Photo Credit: Age UK London)
Peta: Do you think more UK charities could benefit partnering up with their own local utility companies?
Fiona: Yes definitely! The benefit to our clients is great and we have also benefitted from joint marketing, social media and general awareness.
Peta: What sort of plans does Age UK Berkshire and Thames Water have in the pipeline for 2019?
Fiona: We plan to continue to work closely, encouraging more people to sign up to the priority register. Our ultimate aim is to have a seamless easy process so that when we speak to an older person in Berkshire and they give their permission to be on the priority register that we will be able to register them and the information through to Thames Water with a simple press of a button!
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