In the dim and not so distant past of our rainy isle, beer was a necessity. With water-borne illnesses common, a quick sip of water could easily become your last, and a pint of beer, a hostile environment to many of the bugs that were to blame, was often your safest choice. From the stamping out of parasitic infections to John Snow and his pioneering investigations into the Soho cholera outbreak of the 1850s (tracked to a water pump, the closest pub to which is now named in his honour), getting sick from drinking water is something that we have mainly put behind us in the UK. But it’s still a problem all over the world.
While some 750 million people around the globe live without access to clean water, those most often affected by the issue are women. It is often the role of women to walk for miles to seek out and bring back clean drinking water for their families and communities, an estimated 200 million hours a day – about the same number of hours worked each day by everyone in the UK1.
Matt Damon, of being-Matt-Damon fame, has been involved with water charities for years, and Water.org is the latest incarnation of the charity that he founded in 2006. They focus on the supply of clean drinking water across the developing world and their latest campaign brings together beer and water: Buy a Lady a Drink.
Water.org want to help reduce the water-finding journeys that women have to make each day and give them that time back. How can they do that? By working with communities to set up sanitary water supplies and drill wells, bringing the water closer to home.
They have teamed up with Stella Artois, and are offering beer drinkers the chance to help by ‘buying a lady a drink’. Simply buy a chalice (aka ‘big and chunky glass’) from the Stella shop for £4.50 including postage and they will donate £4.50 to Water.org, enough to provide someone with clean drinking water for five years. There are three designs to choose from, inspired by some of the areas where the charity’s work is focused: Ethiopia, Honduras and India.
For the price of a pint (or a pint and a bag of posh nuts if you live outside of London), you can help provide someone drinking water for five years and get yourself a beer goblet. What are you waiting for?
1That’s based on an eight hour day and total UK employment of about 30 million people, of which about 24 million are in full-time employment – rough numbers extracted from the last year or so of information on the ONS website: they don’t make it easy. It’s all very rough and it’s quite likely that women collecting water around the world spend more time doing so each day than the combined daily total of paid work that we do in the UK. Which is scary.