Women and children walk up to 20,000 steps a day for water, reveal WaterAid and Wimbledon Foundation

9 July 2018
Thumbnail WaterAid/Mani Karmacharya Rekha, 17, walks to collect water in Nepal

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It takes up to 15,550 steps to win The Championships, Wimbledon, yet millions of women and children across the world are walking up to an astonishing 20,000 steps, covering up to 16km over four hours, just to collect water for their families, according to findings released by WaterAid.

The international charity gave pedometers to people in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Nepal to measure the distance they cover when collecting water. The results show that those responsible for their household water supply, typically women and children, are walking between 1.2km and 8km to collect water from unsafe sources, often making the exhausting journey twice a day.

WaterAid is working with the Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of the All England Club and The Championships, to champion water, making clean water a normal part of daily life in some of the countries’ poorest communities. The figures highlight how a lack of clean water is robbing people of precious time and holding them back from reaching their full potential.

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

“Around the world, 844 million people don’t have clean water, meaning they have to make long, sometimes treacherous, journeys every day to collect water sapping their time and energy. Imagine what they could achieve with clean water close to home! Having this basic human right helps give people the chance to excel and achieve their goals, maybe even becoming the champions of the future. No one should have to waste their life walking for clean water or risk their lives drinking dirty water.”

Zeitu, 37, a mother of seven in Oromia, Ethiopia, has been collecting water for 30 years, while 15-year-old Zahra has taken on the responsibility for the past six years.

On each journey to the spring, they take around 10,500 steps, covering a distance of almost 8km (5 miles) while carrying a heavy container weighing the same as an entire airport baggage allowance through water-logged fields and across slippery hills. This daily trek means Zeitu has little time for much else other than doing the other household chores, and Zahra often misses school.

For each trip, Zeitu and Zahra walk over five times further than the average women’s tennis player covers in a single match at Wimbledon (1,371m and 2,042 steps).

When they have to go twice a day, they cover a distance of nearly 16km, which is almost as far as the distance between The All England Club, in South West London, to Wembley Stadium, in North London. At 20,000 steps, they walk even further than Imogen, who handles Rufus the Hawk who scares the pigeons away at Wimbledon and walks an impressive 15,000 around the Grounds while on patrol with Rufus.

Bijay, 14, from Kavre in Nepal, started collecting water after the 2015 earthquake destroyed the source near his home. He goes twice a day, walking 3.7km and taking around 5,175 steps each time. That is 1,000 steps more than the average Ball Boy or Girl takes during their one hour shift on court at Wimbledon, in which time they take an average of 4,232 steps.

Bijay often misses on school because of this daily burden. He has ambitions to be a politician to serve the community. With clean water close by, he will get closer to his dreams becoming a reality.

Grace Kapeka, 52, from Jani village in Malawi now has water close to home since WaterAid built a pump in her village. It means she only has to walk 202 steps to collect clean water and therefore has more time to grow vegetables in her garden to provide food for her family.

The Wimbledon Foundation has partnered with WaterAid to ensure more people have clean water close to home. It will donate £100,000 annually for the next three years to help WaterAid make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for communities in Ethiopia, Malawi and Nepal.

Helen Parker, Wimbledon Foundation and Community Manager, said:

“It’s hard to imagine becoming a Wimbledon Champion without having clean water to drink – it’s a vital ingredient to health and success. Yet, one in nine people around the world don’t have this basic resource, affecting children’s education and claiming 800 young lives every single day. The Wimbledon Foundation is proud to be championing clean water through our partnership with WaterAid and helping children in some of the world’s poorest communities fulfil their potential.”

Visitors to Wimbledon are able to get an insight into the journeys people make around the world for water by visiting the first ever augmented reality exhibition in The Queue at The Championships. By activating the new AR option in the Wimbledon app on your phone, the stories featured from around the world come alive before visitors’ eyes.

WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation are also inviting people to find out how far they walk each day. To find out if you cover as much ground as a Wimbledon Champion, try out WaterAid’s quiz at:https://watera.id/mysteps



Download photos at: https://wateraid.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-wateraid/images/assetbox/0ab94105-c94e-4668-9760-6c85d94d9990/assetbox.html
View the film at: https://youtu.be/T2dCTFZkzkA

For further details, go to: Wimbledon.com/foundation/wateraid

For more information, please contact: Laura Crowley, PR Manager, [email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 4965. Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]

The number of steps taken by tennis players has been calculated using the average walker's step length published by Arizona University (0.671m for ladies, 0.760m for men). 

Notes to Editors:

Wimbledon Foundation

The Wimbledon Foundation, established in 2013, is the charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships. The Foundation aims to use the resources and heritage of Wimbledon to help improve people’s lives, both in the local area and on an increasingly global scale. Visit www.wimbledon.com/foundation for more information.