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  • Writer's pictureSimon Deen

charity: water

Today is World Water Day.

Before you read on, a request.  One my wife thought of actually.  Had she not mentioned it, the thought would never have occurred to me.  Hearing it was a bit of an ego blow, if I’m honest.  But nevertheless, here goes;

If at any point you become bored of witty prose, and are thinking of quitting to attend to one of the many important things you have to do today, please just scroll to the end instead.  This week, it’s where the important bit is.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk briefly about morning routines.  Because by the time you’re reading this you will hopefully have flushed, brushed and showered.  

Did you get up at 5am though?  To let some sunlight into your eyes, immerse yourself in single digit temperature water, work out, eat a breakfast made exclusively from raw animal protein, drink coffee mixed with butter made by cows who only eat grass (yes, that’s a thing), before posting about it on social media, and then collapsing back into bed, exhausted?

Me neither.

But I did go downstairs and let the dog out, so that he could do his business and then bark at the sky.

After that, I drank roughly a litre of water, all in one go.

My kids seem to think that this is an incredible feat of endurance, but I’ve just been doing it for as long as I can remember.  It makes me less thirsty.  Years ago, my Grandma, having watched this, decided that I probably had diabetes.  Turns out that I didn’t.

The thing is, due to some kind of plumbing abnormality, it takes a while for the water in my kitchen tap to run cold.  So in the process of hydrating, quite a lot of water goes to waste.

I suspect that this is something that most people in the first world can relate to.  I mean, when was the last time that any of us really thought of running water as a luxury?

My morning shower is actually two showers, of radically different temperatures, and the washing machine at home is used with such alarming regularity, that Thames Water must think I’m running an illegal hydroponics operation.

So it seemed timely when in June last year I got the opportunity to hear Scott Harrison, of charity: water speak.   My host was Jonathan Brandling Harris, a friend and fellow estate agent.

Jonathan had just (about) returned from the Sahara Desert, where he’d attempted the Marathon Des Sables.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s a seven day, 250 kilometre ultra marathon.  The midday temperature in the Sahara peaks at about 120 degrees.  Because obviously, if you’re going to run six consecutive marathons, that’s the perfect weather to do so in.

Jonathan chose to raise money for charity: water.  Mostly, I think, so he could publish this picture.

Brightly Coloured Budgie Smugglers

I’d heard Charity Water’s founder, Scott Harrison, interviewed on a number of podcasts, and I was excited to hear his story in person.  The short version is as follows;

“After a decade of indulging his darkest vices as a nightclub promoter, Scott declared spiritual, moral, and emotional bankruptcy. He spent two years on a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, saw the effects of dirty water firsthand, and came back to New York City on a mission”

Here’s some things I learned from Scott;

  • 703,000,000 people live without access to clean water.  That’s one in ten of us, or ten times the population of the UK.

  • Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.

  • Women and kids are responsible for collecting water for their families and often walk over 30 minutes to get it, two to three times a day.  Every day, women and girls around the world spend an estimated 200 million hours collecting water.

  • 31% of schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation globally.

After Scott’s talk was finished, I found myself in Gelupo, which, if you don’t know, sells the best Gelato in London.  It was a warm evening, which whilst not a prerequisite for me to eat ice cream, did mean that I could wander through the streets of Soho towards home.As I did so, I couldn’t help but feel that for far too long, I’d taken too much for granted.

Because, if we’re honest, the difference between being born in London or Liberia is about one thing, and one thing only - winning the birth lottery.

My overriding feelings were of shock (why didn’t I know the extent of the water crisis), outrage (how is this situation even possible when my experience of the world is so different) and a tinge of guilt at being so lucky, yet so unaware.

Thankfully, Scott and his team know how to solve this problem.  With the help of local partners and generous supporters, they’re making progress every day.  They know that if we work together, everyone will have access to life’s most basic needs within our lifetime.

Here’s what they’re doing about the water crisis.

  • They’ve funded 152,665 water projects

  • Serving 18,438,574 people

  • In 29 countries

Thanks to the way charity: water is funded, 100% of their public donations go directly to water projects.

What I also learned that evening, is that being part of the solution is actually not that hard.  It costs between £8,000 and £25,000 to fund an entire water project, from start to finish.  That covers;

  • Personnel: Program management, engineers, technicians, hydrogeologists, drillers, welders, drivers, community trainers, and hygiene specialists.

  • Local program support: Accountants, grant managers, facilities and office admin, computers, phones, space rental, maintenance, utilities, and insurance.

  • Materials: Cement, pipes, pumps, solar panels, construction supplies, spare parts, training manuals, digital cameras, and GPS devices.

  • Mobilisation: Vehicle rental, vehicle repairs, fuel, meals, and lodging.

  • Sustainability: Needs assessments, establishment of water point management groups, technical training, and routine monitoring.


Ok, enough with the feelings, facts and figures.  Let’s get down to the brass tacks.  I have two goals for the next 12 months;

  • To fund at least one water project (£8k) through donations by Simon Deen Real Estate (us).

  • To fund at least one further water project (£8k) through donations from our clients and friends (you).

I know that there are many worthy charities.  I know that they all need our help now, more than ever.  I know that there’s a cost of living crisis.

But I also know that I’m not the only person who can’t quite get their head around the fact that 703 million people on this planet have no access to safe drinking water.

It has to end, and together, we can end it.

You can see the new charity: water page on my website here, and you can donate here, or by clicking the button at the bottom of this post.

If we’ve worked together over the past 3.5 years, or if you’ve just enjoyed my blogs, then please use this moment to give a little back.

If every single person who reads this blog donates today, then I’ll have reached my fundraising target by the end of World Water Day.  Then charity: water can start planning a water project tomorrow.

Thank you in advance.

Simon x


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