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Walking for Water is a fundraising and awareness-raising concept where school children aged 10-13 walk 6 kilometres, carrying 6 litres of water in a backpack. This event is held during the week of World Water Day March 22nd. Funds are raised by the kids themselves, mainly as donations from friends and family. It’s a perfect community initiative to build excitement and engage our youngest generation in the month immediately before Live Earth’s global Run for Water. Here you can see how Live Earth is promoting the concept on their website

The money raised is used to finance water projects in developing countries. As a preparation for the walk, teachers and guest lecturers educate the children about the importance of clean water and adequate sanitation in developing countries. The March 2009 event raised one million Euro for international water development projects, with low organizational costs.

The concept of Walking for Water was pioneered in the Netherlands by NGO Aqua for All, and has grown in popularity every year since it started 8 years ago. From just a few hundred children walking at the first event, 2009 saw 18,000 children from 380 schools walk for water. A Dutch child typically raises about 30 Euro through the programme. This really adds up. Dutch kids raised over half a million Euro in funds in 2009, which was then matched by a Dutch development fund, to total over 1m Euro. In 2010, 30,000 children from 640 Dutch schools are expected to participate.

Watch this video to get a flavor of the 2009 Dutch event.

Bringing projects to life online

Ten-year old children have completely different expectations of development projects and expect to be able to see and follow what they’re funding online. Walking for Water is now using internet tools to engage kids at this new level. Now, projects that are funded are chosen from organizations which can share progress during the implementation phase, such as Akvo. Akvo provides a wide choice of water and sanitation projects, and shares project progress online direct from the field teams concerned, using short text updates, photos, and video. Children can follow their projects online, for example this one: Toilets and Water for Dumja.

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The money raised by Walking for Water is used to implement low cost water and sanitation solutions in developing countries such as the ceramic water filter shown above.

Open, easy, out-of-the-box concept, designed to be repeated by schools anywhere.

Aqua for All has now opened up Walking for Water as a concept that can be replicated and improved upon by any organization around the world who wants to host their own Walking for Water event – to raise awareness on water issues in developing countries, and to raise funds for water projects. Groups such as NGOs, municipalities, churches or Rotary Clubs can function as a ‘Support Center’, and use the concept to organize Walking for Water events for one or more schools. The money raised can be used to fund your own project or you can choose one of the projects in Akvo. Here you can read more on how to get involved. Aqua for All and Akvo have prepared guides that describe how to organize a Walking for Water event. Three guides are available: one for support centers, one for schools, and one for guest lecturers. Enjoy organizing you own Walking for Water event!

In 2010, schools around the world can join Walking for Water and through Live Earth this concept can become a worldwide phenomenon. The most important characteristics of the Walking for Water concept are:

• Walking for Water is a sponsored walk for children typically aged 10 to 13 years.

• The Walking for Water events are held during the week of World Water Day (March 22nd) and create a perfect awareness raising event to help frame and promote Live Earth’s Run for Water events on April 18th, 2010.

• Children walk 6 kilometres with 6 litres of water in their backpack (the average distance children and women in developing countries walk each day to fetch water).

• A guest lesson is given at the school by a water professional, or a representative of the support organization. An important goal of Walking for Water is to raise awareness amongst the children concerning the importance of clean water and adequate sanitation in developing countries.

• Family and friends sponsor the child’s walk. The collected funds are used to finance a water or sanitation project in a developing country. Organizations can choose a project of their own, or can choose a project from www.akvo.org.

• For more information contact Marieke Roekx (Aqua for All) or Kathelyne van den Berg (Akvo)