Generations of change thanks to water and sanitation

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The development charity WaterAid commissioned photographers to capture images of families around the world and their common bond with water and sanitation.

Today, 6.7 billion people across the world now have access to clean water and over 2 billion more people now have a decent toilet than in 1990.

Saville family, Welsh eco-community

Image source, Ed Gold / WaterAid

In the UK, Nigel Saville, 67, is pictured with his daughter Jasmine and family at their eco-community in rural Wales. Access to water and sanitation has much improved since Nigel's childhood, and on eco-communities like his daughter's, residents are living off the land and working hard to create a sustainable lifestyle.

"As a child in Hersham, Surrey, we were on rations still and had to get water from a standpipe. We'd carry it back in buckets and heat it up on the stove. We had no bathroom, just strip washes. When I was five we moved into a house with running water and had a bath once a week.

"Sanitation has got better since I was a child and now my daughter and grandchildren use a compost toilet. It makes sense as it's not using water and its compost for the fruit trees, so no pathogens going in the veg, and cleaner too."

Moyenda family in Kasungu District, Malawi

Image source, Dennis Lupenga / WaterAid

In Malawi, access to water led to improved health for local farmer Rafiq Moyenda and his family. It also means he has had more time to invest in business, opening a barbershop and grocery store in his village, and even buying a motorbike to help him with his business.

He said: "Our way of life greatly improved. Our economic status improved as my wife would bake doughnuts which brought us more money. Our daughter, Fortunate, stopped suffering from diarrhoea and her school studies improved."

Sister Sarah Begay, New Mexico

Image source, Jake Viramontez / DIGDEEP

In northwest New Mexico, USA, 68-year-old Pentecostal preacher Sister Sarah Begay has dedicated her life to championing rights to water in the Navajo Nation, with the support of DIGDEEP, another global water organisation that delivers services in the United States.

Sister Sarah only got access to running water and a bathroom at home in 1998 and now her grandchildren don't know anything different.

She said: "Before we had running water at home, life was unpleasant and unhealthy - a heartache. When I was young, I remember melting snow and getting water from dirt ponds. We had to filter the pond water before we could use it for cooking or washing, because we didn't want to drink it and get sick from all the bugs.

"My grandchildren grew up in this house with water running through their house. It was really awesome to have that kind of blessing in our home. My kids were very grateful that they were able to take showers, be clean, be healthy."

Sarah is pictured holding a plaque from the local school district recognising her 30 years of devoted service to the community and the progress she has made.

Batuli Nagarkoti, Nepal

Image source, Mani Karmacharya / WaterAid

Batuli Nagarkoti, 72, is pictured with three generations of her family in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. When Batuli was younger she used to get up at 3am to collect water, otherwise she would risk missing out.

She said: "Sometimes just to fill a Gagri [a water vessel] of water, I had to wait for hours because the people who came earlier would take all the water from the well and I had to wait until the well was filled again."

There was no toilet in the community and everybody used to defecate on open ground.

"There used to be faeces everywhere", remembers Batuli, "People defecating on the roadside was common. Diarrhoea was a very big problem during those days and there were many cases of malnutrition."

For Batuli's granddaughter, Salina Nagarkoti, 21, life is very different from the one described by her grandmother.

She said: "Hearing my grandmother talk, I feel very lucky. I never had to struggle for water in my life. The tap-stand was at our home and we had water all the time. We also have a toilet at home. When I hear my father talking about people defecating by the roadside, I feel kind of embarrassed and sad as well."

Musingo Ediriso, Uganda

Image source, James Kiyimba / WaterAid

Musingo Ediriso said: "Our village is now modern. I have two cows. At home we drink milk and we have enough food to eat, and coffee to sell for an income."

Musingo has seen huge progress in Kidula village throughout his lifetime. He was part of a project that brought safe water to the village in the 90s, and the arrival of electricity means that he has been able to use the money he makes from selling coffee to buy a television and sound system.

Muhammad Akram, Pakistan

Image source, Sibtain Haider / WaterAid

Muhammad Akram said: "This ox is a symbol of progress in my case. We rear them up and sell them and we also use their milk."

Muhammad says access to water and sanitation has enabled him to work more and buy oxen that provide milk which he can then sell on.

Oumar Coulibaly, Mali

Image source, Basile Ouedraogo / WaterAid

Oumar Coulibaly said: "Open defecation doesn't exist here any more and our environment is clean - there are not as many flies as there were here in the past."

Simon Tilley, England

Image source, Ed Gold / WaterAid

Five families live in Hockerton's eco-housing development. The houses have no connection to the water mains. Rainwater harvesting was built into the design of the development's building and landscape. It has supplied the homes with water for the two decades since the autonomous homes were built and a reed bed cleans waste water before it is released into a nearby river.

Simon Tilley, resident of Hockerton Housing Project, said: "This approach gives us all the water we need, with the added benefit of using no chemicals and little energy, very low running costs and supporting our local environment's biodiversity. This benefits our health, well-being and wallets."

All photographs courtesy of WaterAid