Since 2004, Decanter has been turning wine into water by auctioning off the wine leftover from our annual World Wine Awards to raise more than £500,000 for WaterAid’s lifesaving work. Take part this year by bidding in the DWWA and Christie's online auction.
This year, we have a wonderful opportunity to make even more of a difference and help mothers and their newborn babies as part of WaterAid’s Deliver Life campaign, which aims to improve access to clean water, toilets and good hygiene practices in health centres across developing countries.
All the money we receive from UK bidders will be matched by the Government, meaning every pound goes twice as far, helping save even more lives.
In our auction at Christie’s, 79 lots went for a record £58,000. It can cost as little as £15 to get clean water to one person, so this amount really can go a long way.
And there’s still time to turn wine into water. Decanter has organised an online auction for the remaining wine, which runs till 8 December. I encourage you all to get involved. Not only will you get a good glass of wine, but you will help transform lives in some of the world’s poorest countries.
I’ve seen first-hand the immense impact clean water, toilets and good hygiene behaviour can have. I went to Zambia with WaterAid, visiting communities with no clean water source or sanitation facilities as well as villages that have been transformed through the provision of these basic resources.
Despite having closely followed WaterAid’s work, nothing could have prepared me for seeing the reality of women climbing down into a deep hole they had dug in the dusty ground, and waiting for murky brown water to seep up through the soil before taking it back to their homes.
Although this water was dirty and unsafe, this is what they used for cooking, cleaning, and drinking because they had no choice.
I met Fenny – a wonderfully warm and charismatic woman who cares for her grandchildren following their mother’s death, and is well-respected in her community, where she works as a traditional birth attendant. Two of her grandchildren had sadly recently died from diarrhoea caused by this same dirty water and poor sanitation and hygiene.
WaterAid has been working in her village so they now have a hand pump providing clean, safe water. While this was too late to save some of Fenny’s grandchildren, she is hopeful for the future and believes such avoidable tragedies will now be a thing of the past.
Having seen communities where WaterAid had worked to improve access to clean water and sanitation, I can imagine how different Fenny’s life will look now.
In the villages I visited, families had been able to set up vegetable gardens, women had the time to earn a living, health had improved and school attendance was high. These simple facilities are the foundations for development, helping to improve health, education and livelihoods.
Fenny will also have access to safe water to ensure a clean, safe environment when helping to deliver babies, which is such a vulnerable time for the mother and child.
One in five newborn baby deaths across the world are due to infection caused by dirty water and an unclean environment, while sepsis accounts for 11% of maternal deaths around the world.
It’s not right that, expectant mothers should have to walk long distances to collect dirty water and worry that the place in which she will give birth has no clean water or toilet facilities. In this day and age, families shouldn’t have to worry that the new addition is at risk from deadly infection because of unhygienic conditions. Midwives shouldn’t have to deliver babies when they have no water available to keep their hands and medical equipment clean.
WaterAid’s Deliver Life appeal with help ensure a healthy start for hundreds of thousands of babies around the world. Every pound donated over the next three months will be doubled by the UK Government, helping to reach twice as many people with clean water and proper toilets.
Together, we really can make transform lives. Find out more about the appeal at deliverlife.wateraid.org.