Fundriaser Matt Kirk using a hand pump in the village of Lores - credit WaterAid

Fundraiser Matt Kirk from Peterborough has returned from his once in a lifetime trip to the Madya Pradesh region of India where he saw first-hand how the work of international charity WaterAid transforms lives.

Matt, who works for Anglian Water, visited some of the charity’s projects where they improve access to safe water and sanitation in one of India’s poorest regions.  

He was chosen to represent the company on the week-long trip together with fundraisers from eleven other water companies. They were shown WaterAid projects in both urban areas and rural villages and learned how the money they helped to raise is used.  

As part of the trip, Matt spent time with local communities, experiencing first-hand what living without clean water and sanitation is like, trying to understand how people cope and asking them about their daily water and sanitation challenges.  

Around 2,000 children across the world die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation - India is among those countries worst affected. With a population of over one billion, diseases of this nature are all too common.  

WaterAid estimates that only 31 per cent of the population has adequate sanitation, with 320,000 children under five dying from diarrhoea every year.  

Matt said: “I always knew travelling to areas where sanitation is poor and they don’t have access to safe drinking water would be a world away from what we’re used to in this country.  

“My time in India has dramatically changed what the word poverty means to me. One day we visited Shiv Nagar, a slum in Bhopal. This is an area where WaterAid has yet to start work.  

“The water supplied to standpipes in this area runs through open drains, where stagnated, septic sewage and rubbish is able to contaminate what they rely on for water. Yet people here don’t think twice about drinking it – they have no choice.  

“In the village of Amrod, in the Sahore district, I got to see first hand the impact WaterAid is having. Since they began working with the village in November, 75 latrines have already been built. When the remaining nine are finished the village will have gone from 100 per cent open defecation to a private latrine for every home.  

“I got the chance to help dig two latrine pits with a 65 year old villager called Amarsingh. He was the first in the village to build a latrine and advocate that others did too. He invested his own money to make aspirations like sanitation and personal safety a reality in Amrod.  

Matt added: “I got to see many examples of how WaterAid helps change people’s lives on this trip, not just through building, but by teaching communities to understand the link between water, sanitation and health.  

“But, I also saw many more areas and thousands of people that could still be helped.  

“I’ve returned inspired to do more and encourage even more people at Anglian Water to get involved and raise funds to help more people the world over.  

“WaterAid really does transform lives.”