WaterAid invites churches to choose water not chocolate this Lent to transform children’s lives

Posted by
Anna France Williams
30 January 2019
Malawi, Children, Schools, Education, Water, Fundraising
WaterAid/Dennis Lupenga

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This Lent, WaterAid is inviting church congregations to give up their favourite treats and donate the money they save to WaterAid’s Jars of Change appeal, helping to bring the gift of clean water to children living in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Congregation members who make the difficult decision to give up chocolate, coffee or other luxuries during the Lenten season are encouraged to put the money saved into a jar of change and then donate the money raised to WaterAid.

The Jars of Change Lent appeal will help bring clean water and decent toilets to communities such as Chiswe village in Malawi so children can stay healthy and in school, getting the chance to reach their potential.


WaterAid has developed an exciting range of resources to support churches in their fundraising efforts, including engaging Sunday School activities, an all age talk, jar sleeves for collection jars and a film. This year the charity is also encouraging churches to hold a Lenten concert.

Maliya, 11 from Malawi, does not have clean water close to home. She faces a dangerous and tiring journey to collect it from the river each morning. Her daily burden often makes her so late for school the gates are then locked when she arrives so she has to turn back home. Without a good education, Maliya’s future is at stake.

Maliya says:

“My parents say that I should never drop out of school, so when I miss classes, I try as much as possible to copy notes from my friends. It is difficult to understand the notes alone. I need to be in class in good time to actually learn but the circumstances force me not to.”

One in nine people around the world don’t have clean water close to home, while one in three have no decent toilets. Drinking dirty water means children are more susceptible to getting repeatedly sick from waterborne diseases. This crisis claims the lives of 800 children every single day and causes millions more to miss school. 

Marcus Missen, Director of Fundraising and Communications at WaterAid said:

“WaterAid’s Jars of Change Lent appeal is a simple and effective way to bring congregations together so collectively their small acts of faith can make a big difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities. It’s easy to take water for granted, yet millions of people across the world are denied access to this basic essential. This Lent, by giving up luxuries and putting the money saved into a Jar of Change, churches can help give the gift of clean water. This creates a ripple of opportunity, giving children the chance to learn, play and have a healthy future.”

Last Lent, churches in the UK raised more than £161,000 for WaterAid, which helped improve access to water in communities across the world such as in the coastal district of Thatta in Pakistan where WaterAid installed a school toilet block with handwashing facilities improving health and getting children back into school.

Just £15 could provide a child with water and by raising £216 congregations could help to help install a 3km water pipe for a community in Malawi, bringing real and long-lasting change.

To find out more and download the free Lent resource pack, visit: www.wateraid.org/uk/lent 


For further information, interviews and images please contact: Anna France-Williams, Senior Press Officer, [email protected] on +44 (0)207 793 5048 or Laura Crowley, PR manager, [email protected]
0207 793 4965 

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 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.


  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2] 
  • Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 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]

To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org.  

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines
[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines
[3]  www.washwatch.org
[4]  World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage
[5] www.wateraid.org/uk