THE BLOG

Seeing Effective Aid In Action

30/12/2016 14:26 GMT | Updated 30/12/2016 14:26 GMT

Last week, I was thrilled to see a photo on Twitter of three Madagascan girls smiling next to the pipes that would bring safe, clean water to their village for the very first time.

I felt particularly touched to follow this amazing development as I met the truly inspiring girls - Noeline, Feno, and Lalasoa - earlier this year when I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful country. I was there to see the amazing work WaterAid is doing in collaboration with the communities they are helping and how Scouts are working with the charity to educate communities about good hygiene and to help campaign for water and toilets for all.

Noeline showed me the small dirty pond that was teeming with bugs from which they collected water for all their basic needs. I joined her and her friends as they carried their heavy 'jerry cans' up a steep hill, which becomes a mudslide during the rainy season. Their daily battle to simply get water shocked me, but the girls were not defeated; completely the opposite! They all spoke to me of their plans for the future and Lalasoa told me how she wanted to teach or be a doctor and to simply help others - a truly heart-warming moment.

Thanks to WaterAid's work, they will no longer have to make this arduous journey. A safe water source in the village will completely transform the community, helping reduce disease, and giving young people more time to go to school and to play, the chance of a better future. As a result of the education the community has now received around hygiene and how to manage the new facilities, future generations will continue to benefit from this simple change.

This is just one example of the power of effective international aid, and the importance of strong partnerships to widen the reach and help increase the sustainability of the projects, projects such as 'A Million Hands'.

While in Madagascar, I also visited a community that had already gained access to clean water and toilets, and the difference this made was palpable. I also saw Scouts in action, educating their community about hygiene and speaking to politicians and journalists about the need for clean water and sanitation for all.

And such successes are being repeated across the world; every year, 78 million people are turning on a tap or using a pump for the first time. If just 8% more people are reached a year, everyone everywhere will have clean water by 2030. I would be so proud to be part of a generation that helped ensure such a momentous achievement. And I know that Scouts and young people across the globe share this ambition.

The global water and sanitation crisis is an issue that Scouts, just like me, feel very strongly about. Despite the progress that has been made, one in ten people still live without safe water and one in three people have no access to improved sanitation. As a result, 900 children die every single day from diarrhoeal diseases. By working together, we can help to end this global crisis.

As part of our community impact campaign, A Million Hands, we are taking action on issues we care about, including helping ensure universal access to these basic human rights.

And the Scouts are not alone. I'm so pleased to live in a country that has committed 0.7% of its Gross National Income to overseas aid, and that water and sanitation is an important component of it.

I have seen first-hand how important effective, well planned, collaborative international aid is, and also feel solidarity with young people across the world. As WaterAid highlights in its new campaign, we are all Made of the Same Stuff - 60% water; this basic resource creates a unity that is stronger than the countries and cultures that divide us.

If global communities continue to increase effective aid efforts and deliver these with the communities they are trying to help, we can get clean water and sanitation to everyone everywhere by 2030. Together, we can make history. Together, we can change the world.