Boss praises charity’s work accessing water in Africa

Northumbrian Water's Heidi Mottram tests out the water pump in a village in Malawi.
Northumbrian Water's Heidi Mottram tests out the water pump in a village in Malawi.

A senior executive at a water company has seen first hand how a charity is helping African villages access water.

Northumbrian Water chief executive Heidi Mottram and seven executives from other water companies, businesses and trusts joined WaterAid on a trip to Malawi.

The group visited both urban and rural areas in the south-east African country, which has a population of 17 million people, and spent time with communities that do not have access to a tap and toilet and where WaterAid has intervened.

Heidi, who had never been to Africa before, said: “I found it very frustrating that Malawi has a huge amount of water in Lake Malawi and in rivers and yet there are millions of people who can’t access it.

“It was very difficult to see the suffering caused by something that we take for granted every day in the North East.

“One of my most difficult experiences during the trip was visiting Linyanga Health Centre which is extremely remote, accessed by unmade roads and serves 29,000 people.

“A very small team of medical staff work in the four or five small rooms. The delivery room had one bed and up to three women can give birth in this room at the same time.

“The most shocking thing is that, in this day and age, this health centre doesn’t have a water supply. This really reinforced the importance of the incredible work that WaterAid does.”

WaterAid helps empower individuals and communities by giving them the knowledge, understanding, skills and enthusiasm to become self-sufficient and look after water pumps and latrines themselves.

Heidi added: “We met some incredible people in Malawi who are driven, articulate and intelligent, they were just born in a different place and in different circumstances to us.

“It was satisfying to see that once WaterAid has intervened people do want to become independent of the charity.

“Sustainability is at the core of everything the charity does, ensuring people understand why they need access to safe water and sanitation and why hygiene education is so important.

“I have utmost respect for WaterAid’s approach, their team and their passion to give people basic human rights. I am so proud that Northumbrian Water Group is one of their partners and that we are helping to save lives.”

Boyce Nyirenda, who works for WaterAid in Malawi, said: “It was fantastic to host the recent visit from Heidi Mottram of Northumbrian Water Group.

“The impact of the company’s support across all of WaterAid’s work is tremendous.”