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Glastonbury Festival helps thousands enjoy basic provision of safe water

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: June 23, 2012

  • Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily have seen first-hand the benefits of the charity WaterAid’s work in Mozambique. Without public pressure and campaigning, WaterAid says it would only be able to reach a fraction of the people it needs to

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Glastonbury Festival has helped to give water and sanitation to the equivalent of 100,000 people around the world – on a par with the population of Bath.

WaterAid became the official charity for the event in 1994 – one of three to be voted for by the festival crew.

And Barbara Frost, chief executive, says: “The synergy between the festival and WaterAid makes perfect sense.

“At the festival people are very aware of getting enough drinking water, finding a toilet and keeping their hands clean, so they really start to understand what we’re about.”

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In fact, WaterAid’s human poo, tap and toilet prove to be popular characters wandering around Worthy Farm – with even Prince Charles taking time out to say hello when he visited the festival site in 2010.

Michael and his daughter Emily have also seen first-hand the benefits of the charity’s work in Mozambique.

Says Barbara: “WaterAid’s mission is to help the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation. We work on the ground with local partners to put in the necessary wells, taps and toilets, but also at a higher level to influence governments and international donors.

“Glastonbury Festival gives us a fantastic platform to do both through fundraising and campaigning. I really cannot overstate the impact that the festival has on our work, and the people we are dedicated to helping.

“We owe a lot to Glastonbury Festival and the Eavises, and truly value this amazing relationship.”

At the festival, WaterAid provides volunteers to man the African Pit Latrines in the King’s as well as the famous She-pees (female urinals) and the WaterAid stand by the Pyramid Stage. They also help to keep the site clear from rubbish by litter-picking. In return, the festival gives the charity a donation each year and the chance to reach thousands and thousands of people on site, and potentially millions who take an interest in the festival from outside.

Over the course of the partnership, Glastonbury has helped to raise over £1.5 million for WaterAid, which is enough money to help more than 100,000 people to a lasting supply of safe water and sanitation.

Michael and Emily visited Niassa in the north of Mozambique in 2006, which is one of the most remote areas, and an area where WaterAid is doing a lot of work. At the time, Michael said: “It’s one of the poorest regions I’ve seen in my life, and water’s the main thing they need. It’s great to know the festival makes a hell of a difference to these people.”

WaterAid says the festival is also a vital campaigning spot for the charity. In the last two years alone around 50,000 signatures were collected, which have helped keep the pressure on key decision-makers in governments.

Without public pressure and campaigning, WaterAid says it would only be able to reach a fraction of the people it needs to.

It says: “It helps to unlock the money and influence that can really make a really sizable dent in the 783 million people who don’t have any access to safe water, and the 2.5 billion who lack adequate sanitation. Glastonbury is the perfect space to get people to understand why these issues matter, and what they can do to help. It’s a very special place where people care, and seem to feel a collective responsibility to create a greener, fairer world for all.”

Facts and figures

Almost 2000 children die every day as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. 783 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world’s population. 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation. This is almost two-fifths of the world’s population.

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