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22 March 2005 PR 05/24

How far do you have to walk to get safe water?

The daily struggle faced by millions of people across the world to collect safe drinking water will be highlighted by Loughborough University staff on World Water Day.

Taking place today, Tuesday March 22, World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The theme for this year is ‘Water for Life’ and the day kicks off a whole decade that has been dedicated by the UN to tackling water-related issues.

The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is six kilometres and the weight of water they carry on their heads is about 20kgs - equivalent to the average airport luggage allowance. Today 1.1 billion people still do not have adequate access to safe water and 2.4 billion people are without appropriate sanitation.

Staff from the University’s Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) WELL team have been invited to the Department for International Development (DFID) headquarters in London to mark this important event. WELL is a DFID-funded resource centre providing information and support in water, sanitation and environmental health. It is managed by WEDC and based at Loughborough University.

The WELL team will be hosting a number of interactive displays at DFID’s headquarters, highlighting the many difficulties faced by people in poor countries in obtaining clean water, safe sanitation and good hygiene practices, together with what can and is being done to ease their plight. The team will also give DFID staff pedometres to wear for a day, to illustrate just how far some people have to walk simply to collect clean water.

Dr Andrew Cotton, Managing Director of WELL, said: “World Water Day is an excellent opportunity for us to highlight just how many people throughout the world still do not have access to a safe water supply or safe sanitation. By showing DFID staff just how far many people have to walk every day to collect water, we hope it will make everyone realise just how important an issue this is and that action needs to be taken now to rectify it.”

For more information on WELL visit: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/well/


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Notes to editors
Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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