As part of our exciting partnership with the UK Scouts Assocation, three British Scouts recently visited Madagascar to find out what life without clean water is like – and how the local Scouts are leading their communities towards a safer future.

In the village of Ambonidobo, Jack, Hannah and Rebecca met 13-year-old Lalasoa.

Lalasoa’s parents, both farmers, can’t afford to send her to school anymore, meaning she spends her days doing chores – including the arduous job of carrying water back from a local pond.

“Fetching water is really tough. It gives me neck and head pain,” she says.

Joining her at the pond, Hannah found that the water, which is used for washing clothes as well as for drinking, was dirty. Dirty water poses a risk for the people of Ambonidobo – as does the trip to collect it.

“It’s quite a treacherous walk as there’s nothing to hold onto or any footholds,” Hannah described the journey. “I can’t imagine what it’s like in the rainy season.”

UK Scouts Hannah, Jack and Becky join Lalasoa, Noeline, and Feno as they collect water from a dirty pond in their village in Ambonidobo, Madagascar, where WaterAid is set to start work. The Scouts join Lalasoa and her friends at the dirty pond in Ambonidobo, where WaterAid will soon begin work to improve access to safe water.

In Mantasoa, the British trio camped out with their Madagascan counterparts. Jack, Hannah and Rebecca took part in campfire songs that help to spread the word about better hygiene and break down taboos around periods.

They shared their experiences with local Scouts, like Stephanie. Girls like Stephanie are trusted in their community as leaders, giving them a platform to educate others about safer hygiene practices.

Stephanie explained the importance of this kind of influence, saying “Hygiene is very important. Actually, your life depends on it, especially for the people who do not have a very high income, because they cannot pay for medical care.”

The Scouts also organised a Dobodoboka, a festival which pops up on busy market days when people gather together from villages and farms miles apart.

Through puppet shows and questionnaires, the Scouts had the opportunity to spread their message to the wider community. Vitally, they were also able to meet the local mayor, who discussed his commitment to improving basic water and hygiene facilities in the area.

Hannah, Jack and Rebecca meet the local mayor at the Dobodoboka.

“We learned so much about how we can join together with our Scout family in Madagascar," Hannah Kentish reflected after the trip. "It was inspiring to see the Scouts working so effectively with WaterAid."

Back in the UK, Jack, Hannah and Rebecca will share their eye-opening experiences with 65,000 of their fellow Scouts as part of the A Million Hands campaign. Although you don't need to be a Scout to hear them speak – they've already shared their story with Sky News:

Learn more about our partnership with the Scouts Association.