While you’re trying to increase your steps during the work day, keeping track with your wearable device and comparing with co-workers, many people in the world are also taking those thousands of steps, but rather than for a fitness routine, theirs are to get unclean water for their family and village. Most often this literally heavy load falls on the women and girls in villages and can have a destructive impact on their well-being and health. These steps are not fit into their working day or even a by-product of their work, but conversely these vital steps are actually limiting their options for education or making a living.
In 2015 at an exhibition tennis match before Wimbledon, wearable fitness trackers were used to see how many steps the professional players and ball girls were taking during matches. They learned that in a men’s match, ball girls are logging an average of 7,100 steps, only 25% less than the players. Later, the Wimbledon Foundation found that a woman playing in the grand slam tournament will take at least 12,000 steps on her way to being crowned Wimbledon champion. Still, the 10,000 to 20,000 steps taken each day by women in remote, arid locations can eclipse those numbers. This was the inspiration for a video created by WaterAid to raise awareness.
The Wimbledon foundation, started in 2013, is the charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships. They recently partnered with WaterAid and will donate £100,000 ($132,000) annually for three years to help WaterAid bring clean water, decent toilets and awareness of good hygiene practices to communities in Ethiopia, Malawi and Nepal.
“Water is vital to Wimbledon: it keeps our grass courts maintained and our competitors hydrated. However, we are well aware that not everyone is as fortunate.” Said Helen Parker, Wimbledon Foundation and Community Manager. “The basics of clean water and good sanitation are vital for health and education, enabling children to fulfil their potential”
On our planet, 1 in 9 people don’t have clean water close to home, and 1 in 3 people don’t have a decent toilet of their own. Dirty water and poor sanitation are responsible for the diseases that kill one child every two minutes.
In response to this crisis, WaterAid works with local partners in some of the world’s poorest countries to bring lasting solutions to communities, while also working with the government to influence policy and practice.
Fortunately, equally as surprising are the aid statistics: every £1 ($1.32) invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 ($5.28) in increased productivity and just £24 ($32) or £2 per month can provide one person with clean water.
WaterAid Chief Executive, Tim Wainwright’s goal is to help communities break free from poverty and allow their lives to change for the better. “We are delighted that the Wimbledon Foundation is supporting our goal of ensuring clean water and toilets for all by 2030. Joining forces with the charitable arm of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament will provide much needed funds for our work in some of the poorest countries while also helping raise awareness of the urgent need to address the global water and sanitation crisis.”
This year at The Championships visitors had the opportunity to get more out of their Wimbledon App by activating an augmented reality option that supports a photo exhibition that visitors saw when in line to enter the grounds. The photos showed the inspiring journeys women make around the word to collect water, and how their lives are changing as fresh clean water is made available through the work of WaterAid.
When wells are installed and the steps to fresh water can be reduced from 10,000 to 40 or 50, women and girls are suddenly able to do things like socialize with other women and their families, go to school, enjoy hobbies, or in the case of one woman shown in the exhibition, spend time making bamboo mats with her husband that can be sold to support their family.
Whatever the goals or dreams of the women currently collecting water for their village, Wimbledon’s support of WaterAid can help release the potential of hundreds of millions of people in our world and empower them to keep reaching and dreaming.