It is that time of year again…the start of the countdown to my next desert running adventure in support of a social cause making a difference in Africa.
Water is a precious resource, a source of life and the basis of all human activities, from drinking to washing to cultivating land and producing food necessary for sustenance. It is also a scarce resource, and its presence and availability is often taken for granted. South Africa is currently recovering from the worst drought in living memory.
Today is World Water Day, held annually on 22 March to focus global attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. In addition, the Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty.
More than 600 million people worldwide, many of them living in rural Africa, are still without a safe water supply close to home. As a result, they have to spend countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and carrying heavy buckets.
Fortunately, a unique South African invention makes it extremely easy to collect, move and store water in rural conditions – up to 5x more water than a single bucket, by simply rolling it along the ground.
The “Hippo Water Roller Project” was established in 1994 in response to the unique needs and constraints in terms of access to water confronting rural women and children across Africa. Now simply referred to as the “Hippo Roller”, the broad social impact of this social enterprise has been felt in more than 20 countries, with a total distribution of more than 50 000 rollers, and a reach of close to half a million people.
I have been participating in multi-stage desert foot races in remote parts of the world since 2010 – from the Kalahari, Namib and Sahara Deserts in Africa, to the Gobi Desert in China, the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Grand Canyon in the United states, and the most extreme of them all, The Last Desert Race in 2014 in Antarctica.
I enter these events both for the physical challenge associated with running self-supported through the deserts of the world, as well as to raise money and awareness for organisations at the forefront of responding to many of the key development challenges facing Africa.
In the recent past I have used my desert runs to support the work of Bono’s ONE Campaign in Africa, Greenpeace Africa, The Sunflower Fund and the END Fund, an organisation at the forefront of the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Africa.
My next desert race is the 250km Big Red Run from 24-29 June 2017 in the Simpson Desert in Australia. This will be my ninth multi-stage desert race, and the sixth leg of my quest to complete one of these races on all seven continents.
I will use the period before, during and immediately after the Big Red Run to raise awareness about the Hippo Roller, and money which will enable more communities in remote parts of South Africa to acquire these rollers.
Information about my specific awareness and fundraising activities, and how you could make a contribution, will be finalised in coming days.
Please join me on this journey and let’s make a difference in the lives on those that could benefit from access to the Hippo Roller.
The countdown to the Big Red Run continues…