Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson walked for water at Westminster today as part of a global campaign to raise awareness for the world water and sanitation crisis.
Marking the United Nations World Water Day, Bill Esterson joined hundreds of thousands of people across the globe who walked in solidarity with the almost 900 million people worldwide who still have no access to safe drinking water, and the 2.6 billion people without a toilet. The event, called World Walks for Water, was organised by global campaign group End Water Poverty.
International development organisations WaterAid and Tearfund hosted today’s event in London which saw Bill Esterson and 41 MPs, including Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell and Shadow Secretary of State Harriet Harman, get a taste for the daily reality for millions of people by carrying water containers on a short walk near the Houses of Parliament.
“Lack of water and sanitation traps some of the world’s poorest people in a vicious circle of disease, lost life chances and poverty,” said Bill Esterson “The burden of this crisis largely falls on women and children, and so today I wanted to highlight the critical need for these basic services in the developing world.”
Globally, campaigners walked for water in over 50 countries from Nigeria to Nepal, London to Las Vegas. In many countries, people walked for six kilometres to demand an end to the global water and sanitation crisis, representing the average distance women and children walk to collect their water for their basic needs.
Highlights included: a walk which took place at Everest Base camp; a circus-themed extraordinaire featuring Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, USA; 15,000 children from 75 schools in Belgium who walked to meet politicians; and over 30,000 campaigners talking part in both Nepal and Nigeria.
It is estimated that in the world’s poorest countries, women and girls spend a staggering 40 billion hours every year fetching and carrying water. Households in rural Africa spend an average of 26% of their time fetching water, carrying water containers weighing as much as 20kg, the same as the average baggage allowance on most airlines. The lack of safe water and toilets has a huge impact on a woman’s ability to earn a living, get an education and spend time with her family.
“Water and sanitation are essential for improving health, education, gender equality and economic growth,” said Margaret Batty, WaterAid Policy and Campaigns Director. “While the world waits to take action on the global water and sanitation crisis, 4,000 children die every single day from related illnesses. Today hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have demanded that the world wakes up to this deadly emergency. The billions without these basic services can’t wait any longer.”