It made me smile to realise that the first thing that sprang to mind when I read the words "The Big Dig" was the Bob the Builder DVD that we reviewed called The Big Dino Dig. It's actually quite telling that I could think of something so trivial and light-hearted when, in fact, it is the name of a new life-changing campaign to help people in Malawi. How the other half lives, eh ? I bet they wouldn't think of Bob the Builder and dinosaur bones when hearing those words.
WaterAid explain : "We launched today, Monday (18 June), an exciting new appeal, The Big Dig, which will transform lives in rural Malawi by providing the basic necessities of clean water and safe toilets. Currently in Malawi, 1 in 5 people have no supply of clean water, and nearly 1 in 2 has to cope with the indignity of having nowhere safe to go to the toilet.
This campaign is the first of its kind because we will be discussing the progress, live at , where you can meet locals involved with the projects, share their stories and watch the project progress. We want to be transparent about the process behind The Big Dig and we would love for you to be part of the process."
You can find out more about the project by watching the video above. They will also be sharing a live stream via YouTube of a water bore hole being dug in one of these communities.
The appeal is being backed by more than 30 commercial radio stations across the UK, who will be asking listeners to support the appeal and getting their DJs to take on fundraising challenges ranging from swimming challenges to recording a single. Several celebrities have also offered their support to The Big Dig appeal, including Rachel Stevens, Denise Van Outen, Joanna Lumley and Lorraine Kelly.
If you're wondering where Malawi is and want a bit of a geography lesson, keep on reading. Otherwise, just click through to the Big Dig site and see how you can help !
• Launch Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwcymVgK9Ck
About Malawi and the water and sanitation crisis
Malawi is a small landlocked African country bordering Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. It has a population of around 15 million people, around twice the number as live in London.
It is one of the worlds least developed countries, on average people live on the equivalent of just £1.50 a day.
52% of the country lives below the poverty line, and the average life expectancy is just 52 - nearly three decades less than the average life expectancy in the UK (80.5 years).
Around one in five people (17%) from Malawi don’t have access to safe drinking water, while, half the population (49%) don’t currently have access to sanitation.
As a consequence of this, over 3,500 children in Malawi under the age of five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases brought about because they lack access to water and sanitation.
WaterAid has been addressing this crisis in Malawi since 1999. We work alongside the district governments, other local non-governmental organisation (NGO), church-based organisations and the public water company.
WaterAid has focused much of its previous work on rehabilitating existing water systems in Malawi, but the Big Dig project in the Bokola and Kaniche villages is a break from the past, as both these communities have never had access to safe drinking water and sanitation before.
In Malawi, as in many of the other countries we work in, we help communities to set up water and sanitation committees who take responsibility for the overall management of water projects.
There is a lot more information about Malawi and WaterAid’s work in the country online at: www.wateraid.org/uk/what_we_do/where_we_work/malawi
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