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A roundabout way to provide clean water

PUBLISHED: 07:45 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

RICHARD BALLS

Persuading children in Norfolk schools to drink bottles of water will reap all kinds of health benefits. But compared with the knock-on effect that each purchase of One water in tuck shops and dining rooms across the county will have on their counterparts in Africa's poorest regions, it is a drop in the ocean.

Persuading children in Norfolk schools to drink bottles of water will reap all kinds of health benefits.

But compared with the knock-on effect that each purchase of One water in tuck shops and dining rooms across the county will have on their counterparts in Africa's poorest regions, it is a drop in the ocean.

All profits from the ethical mineral water go directly to a scheme which enables children in Africa to pump clean water to their communities while spinning around on a roundabout. Not only does it provide unpolluted water, but it frees up youngsters who would otherwise spend hours collecting water each day to attend school and play with friends, and helps with the irrigation of crops.

Yesterday, Duncan Goose, the entrepreneur behind the ethical mineral water, was joined by his actress sister Claire on the playing field of All Saints VC Middle School in Horsford, near Norwich, to mark the decision by Norfolk County Council to supply the product in every school.

The authority is the first in the country to fully endorse the scheme, but other schools are following suit and the project is engaging pupils who know that their bottles of water are touching the lives of youngsters a world away.

"It provides clean water for a community and the great thing is that when we build a roundabout pump it is there in perpetuity," said Mr Goose, whose family lives in Dersingham.

"Women and children in Africa spend five hours a day collecting water and because we build these near schools, the children are also getting an education because they are not spending time doing that."

Chris Cope, operations manager for Norfolk County Services, the main schools meals provider in the region, said: "We have got posters up in the school here telling the children what it is all about. They know that by buying and drinking the water they are helping under-privileged children in Africa who need water."

One water was launched last year at Live8 and since then the initiative has snowballed. A year ago it took about six months to sell 12,000 litres, but half a million bottles are now being produced every month.

Total petrol stations, Morrisons, Co-op and Waitrose all stock it and other businesses may soon take the mineral water, which is competing in an industry worth an estimated £1.5bn a year.

The roundabout pump is a simple, but ingenious device. Instead of putting a traditional hand pump over a bore hole, a roundabout is installed so that as the children play the water is pumped from the ground into storage tanks with taps on the back. This means that water is not wasted and it provides the rare luxury in Africa of clean water on tap.

Communities in South Africa and Mozambique are already enjoying the benefits of the scheme, which is to be extended to Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

Claire Goose, best known for her roles in Casualty and Waking The Dead, has visited remote villages in Africa which have no water at all and seen the impact of the roundabout scheme.

"Because there was surplus water, there were three little boys with plastic containers and they were playing with the water and pouring it from one into another, like children do," she said. "In parts of Africa you never see that. We would have water fights with them. It seemed to have lightened the community."

Claire Goose last night honoured high-flying young men and women in her native West Norfolk.

Miss Goose, who grew up in Dersingham, near Hunstanton, presented Duke of Edinburgh's Award gold badges to 57 youngsters at Sandringham Park. The award gives 14- to 25-year-olds the chance to learn new skills, help each other and experience adventure.

See tomorrow's EDP for a full report and pictures.


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