WaterAid launches Harvest appeal to help bring clean water to communities around the world

Posted by
Alice Barnard
27 September 2021
WaterAid/ Genaye Eshetu

International charity WaterAid is inviting congregations, schools and community groups across the UK to support its annual Harvest Appeal and help bring clean water to people around the world living on the frontline of climate change. 

By hosting a harvest supper or taking a collection, groups can raise vital funds for rural communities, including those in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, who are struggling to grow crops due to rising temperatures and longer droughts. 

Almost six in 10 people in Ethiopia don’t have access to clean water close to home.  The changing climate is making life even harder for many. With rising temperatures and rainfall becoming more unpredictable, lives and futures are under threat. Most families in Ethiopia depend on farming for their livelihoods, but without a reliable source of water, farmers can't irrigate their land and when droughts hit, their crops often fail. 

Bernesh, 40, lives in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. Like most people in her community, she and her husband are coffee farmers, but growing coffee requires water. Up until recently, water in Bernesh’s village was so scarce it had to be rationed. Families could only use the local hand-dug well once every two days and were allowed just four jerry cans of water. For Bernesh’s family of eight, that was five litres per person, per day, to cover all their household needs. 

Bernesh was only allowed to collect water for her coffee plants once a month so relied on the rain to keep her plants alive. But over the years, the changing climate has made things harder for her. Rainfall became less predictable, making it difficult for Bernesh to grow her coffee and earn a living. 

Bernesh says: 

“Coffee is the main source of our family’s income. Our life depends on the produce. This year, it didn’t rain on time, and it affected our crops. Water is very important for coffee. If the coffee plant doesn’t get water, it dries up. Water is very scarce in our area, so we always wait for the rain, since it’s the only means by which our farm gets enough water.”  

Last harvest, churches and community groups in the UK raised £80,000 for WaterAid, helping bring clean water to communities around the world for the first time. This year, groups who support the Harvest Appeal can make a difference to the lives of people like Bernesh and her family to enable them to grow crops and face the future with confidence. By fundraising for WaterAid, participating groups can ensure that some of the poorest communities around the world have a reliable source of clean water and can better protect themselves against the devastating impacts of climate change.  

Judit Palotai, Senior Community Marketing Officer at WaterAid, said: 

“Faith groups, schools and community groups play a vital role in WaterAid’s work, bringing much-needed funds to transform lives with clean water. By coming together this harvest, groups across the UK can help ensure that families around the world have enough to eat and drink and can be healthy and financially secure. The simple gift of clean water means others can have harvests worth celebrating.”  

WaterAid has developed a range of free resources to inspire congregations, schools and community groups. The pack includes a poster, youth group/classroom activities, fundraising ideas, resources for group leaders and an assembly resource for schools.  


For further information about WaterAid, please contact Anna France-Williams, Senior Media Officer, [email protected]

Alternatively call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected] 

Notes to Editors: 

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.1 
  • 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own.2  
  • Around 290,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.3 
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.4 
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.5