Children at the Western Province Preparatory School getting ready for the 6 km walk. Photo by Catherine Ritchie (WESSA)

Last week I was in Cape Town, South Africa to commemorate World Water Day 2011 at the official UN event. I was part of the WaterCube team getting short videos of conference participants online. Check the previous Blog post on the work we did there.

Coinciding annually on World Water Day is the Walking for Water campaign. School children walk 6 kilometres carrying 6 litres of water to raise awareness about problems people face getting access to water, and fundraise for water projects in developing countries. Akvo has this year helped initiate the first walks outside the Netherlands. You can read more about this over on the Walking for Water international website.

In and around Cape Town walks were also organised for the very first time. Through our friends at FLOW we got in touch with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA). The have developed a successful Eco-schools program in South Africa with around 1200 schools already registered. Through this school network WESSA has been able to get a number of schools involved with Walking for Water.

Click here to see Andrea Gordon talking about the Eco-Schools programme and the first Walking For Water schools campaign in South Africa, over on WaterCube.tv.

I grabbed the chance to join in on the very first South African Walking For Water, that was held in Betty’s Bay in Western Cape on Monday 21st March. The schools that were participating were Betty’s Bay Home School, Laerskool Kleinmond and Pringle House Eco School. The funds raised will be used to build rainwater storage tanks for each individual school, which ties in nicely with the 2011 World Water Day theme of “Water for cities: Responding to the urban challenge” where each school aims to lighten the impact it has on the town/village water resources. The rainwater collected will be used to water their sports fields, trees and vegetable gardens. After the walk we managed to get Maxine to tell us a little about her experience of the concept Walking for Walking and the walk itself, which turned out to be 14 km instead of 6!

Being held in South Africa for the first time, WESSA did a really great job getting these first schools involved with Walking for Water. I’m optimistic that in 2012 the event can develop further, reaching out to many more children across South Africa.

Luuk Diphoorn is project coordinator at Akvo