World Water Day is held on 22nd March every year and raises awareness for the 2 billion people living without access to safe water. This year we are celebrating the success of our clean water project in Niger, a landlocked country in Africa which is affected by persistent drought. Through a partnership with Oxfam, we have been supporting clean water in Niger for over 10 years and the latest developments are based in Tillabery (Ouallam) and Zinder (Ollelewa – Tarka) regions of west Niger.
Oxfam GB’s CEO, Danny Sriskandarajah, recently came to our offices to reflect on this long-term partnership between Oxfam and Ahmad Tea. Danny said: “The world needs dramatic urgent action on climate change and on equity. We need all actors in society, whether big businesses or NGOs like Oxfam, to take things like gender equality much more seriously. Oxfam’s priorities are very similar to those when the NGO started 80 years ago – take action to reduce humanitarian need while also making life better for all of us on this planet and more sustainable.”
Zahra Afshar, our Head of Charity/CSR shared her thoughts on the partnership:
“We were made aware of a country called Niger through a news report, which was in desperate need of water security. We don’t source or sell our tea in Niger but we found out that this country is one of the poorest in the world. It has the lowest GDP in the world, yet it is the highest on the climate risk index. This juxtaposition is devastating for the people in Niger, especially in rural communities. When we learnt about the perilous situation, we just knew we had to do something. Of course we are a tea company and what is tea without water?”
Oxfam had been working in the country 10 years before Ahmad Tea started its funding. Through a study in Niger, Oxfam discovered that there were renewable water sources in the basin of the ground. All it needed was a water installation project and community management based on community needs to work out how to roll out the water to communities.
In Niger, 71% of households access water from unprotected wells and only 29% of households have access to clean water. We have provided funding to benefit some of the most vulnerable and insecure communities in Niger. Over 44,000 Nigeriens have benefitted from an “Ahmad Tea”, which is what the locals informally call a new water installation. The building and rehabilitation of 37 boreholes and water points has enabled villages to access clean water for household and domestic use.
Zahra continued: “The great part of the project is the domino effect it has had. There’s the impact of gender empowerment, because women are in charge of their water supplies and are able use their water for their market gardens and sell their produce. When they sell food, they are able to use that money to send their children to school. Across society we are seeing great changes.”
The important part of the Ahmad Tea/Oxfam work is its long-term scope. We are working with the University of Nairobi to fund and train postgraduate students in Water Management and currently there are two studying for an MSc. Once they graduate, they will work on the Oxfam/Ahmad Tea projects in the long-term so that knowledge is not lost and can be passed on to generations.
Danny continued, “Our experience tells us that these places that we work in need not be fragile. Oxfam’s approach is about addressing the immediate needs, whether that be installing a water pipeline or providing help in refugee camps. We take action to meet people’s needs while also thinking about the long-term impact, for example creating employment or training opportunities.”
We send our thanks to Ahmad Tea fans around the world for supporting our brand and in turn supporting these fantastic charitable activations that are making a real difference to people’s lives.
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