How to get over your fear of sharks...

By Chloe Tingle.

I’ve been a volunteer for FRANK Water for several years and as part of that I helped out at the Dart 10k swim two years in a row. I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the swim and it is in an incredibly beautiful location, so beautiful in fact I decided to move out of Bristol and down to this amazing part of South Devon last year. The Dart 10k is so impressive! Seeing all those hundreds of swimmers filling up the deep, dark estuary is inspiring- particularly if you are on a floating island feed station positioned half way through the swim, tasked with chucking jelly babies into swimmers open mouths (just like feeding time at the zoo). I’ve promised myself having moved down here that one day I will do the Dart 10k but I’m not quite ready yet, it’s very deep, full of mud, fast flowing and there’s quite a few boats (including a passenger ferry) to avoid- definitely a challenge.

So, with a view to one day building up to the Dart 10K I was so excited to hear about another swim, the Bantham Swoosh only 20minutes away from my house but heading down a much shallower, sandy, warmer estuary and ending with a little push out to sea. My friend Steve and I decided to sign ourselves up for the challenge and raise money for FRANK water.

The Bantham Swoosh Swim for FRANK Water

I had done one swim event before but it was only a mile in a lake and several years before when I was much more into my swimming. I love to be in the water but I am not a natural swimmer and I was certainly very unfit when I started my training (marginally fitter by the end). I set myself an intensive training plan with swims 3 times a week building up my distance each time and an outdoor swim in the sea or the estuary at least once a fortnight (I’m very lucky to live just 20mins from the coast and 10mins from the Dart). Of course, I didn’t stick to that plan at all! I did make myself go in cold water as often as possible but the first few times in early April I barely stayed in 5 minutes (due to brain freeze and feeling like my face was going to fall off) and there were times when I just couldn’t face it. I was worried I hadn’t done enough distance before the event, I think I made it up to 4km once or twice in the pool and the furthest I did in the sea was a mile.

I also found out I have a massive irrational fear of swimming in the sea due to what might be lurking in the murky water- seaweed, SHARKS, bits of plastic that look like jelly fish, SHARKS, bottles hitting you on the head, SHARKS, other swimmers, SHARKS- you get the idea. One day, I saw a seal on one of my swims and ran across the water back to the beach and didn’t go back in for a couple of weeks!

I thought I would make up for my lack of training just before the event but of course I caught a cold and had a big contract at work which meant I had no time for extra training. To make maters worse just the week before the swim, news broke of the UK’s first ever shark attack and guess where it was- you guessed it- BANTHAM! OK so the guy had a bloody thumb and the shark was about the size of a cat, but still, now I was even more afraid of swimming in the open.

On my last pool swim, I managed to rip a gaping hole in my costume and the night before the event I was desperately patching up my wetsuit which had been left in the car in the sunshine and melted along the seams - none of this seemed like good omen.

On the day of the swim we got up super early and drove to the finish at Bantham beach, we were doing the dawn swim (they time it to be with the tides either dawn or dusk) it was pretty grey and rainy, we got in to our wetsuits and waited around shivering (not a good start) to get a coach the 6km back up the river to the start. We were briefed and told to swim breaststroke for the first couple of hundred metres as it was a bit of a bottle neck where we got in and they didn’t want people swimming over one another.

It was a bit nippy and a bit soupy (full of little bits of debris) when we first got in and being well behaved myself and Steve swam the first few hundred metres together in breast stroke (most people didn’t they just ploughed ahead in front crawl) but it wasn’t a mass start, it felt very relaxed and exciting rather than scary.

We separated (I’m a lot slower than Steve) and put our heads down to swim front crawl. The whole time I was swimming I felt well looked after and safe, I could see life guards on surfboards at all times and 90% of the time I was surrounded by other swimmers. Once the estuary opened up it was beautifully clear and there was plenty of space, it also wasn’t too deep so if I had needed to I could have put my feet down, but I never felt like I needed to stop. I even enjoyed seeing the crabs scooting along the bottom and never even thought of the ‘S’ word during my swim. I paced myself and didn’t worry too much about all the people over taking me, in fact I was quite surprised when I got to the part where I could see lots of boats as I knew that was quite close to the end and I thought actually I probably could have swum a bit faster.

I was really looking forward to the swoosh part (the current picks up at the end and pulls you in to the beach) although I didn’t feel the full effects of it until right before the finish line (which was a bit disappointing). I let myself float along on my back for the last hundred metres and felt very relaxed when I got to the end and was helped out by volunteers and given a beautiful big warm fluffy swoosh towel.

Beautiful Bantham - home of the Bantham Swoosh

Beautiful Bantham - home of the Bantham Swoosh

I absolutely loved my Bantham Swoosh experience and I would encourage everyone to have a go. 6km seems like a really long way but its surprisingly not that bad and even if your training doesn’t go anywhere near to plan its definitely still achievable. I just kept saying to myself even a log that can’t swim at all will eventually get to the end due to the pull of the tide so don’t worry. It’s a very gentle ease into outdoor swimming events, with it being sandy, shallow, reasonably warm (compared to a lake or deep river) and with the bonus of a little extra help from the swoosh. So go for it- you won’t regret it.

One day I will be back to tell you about my Dart 10K experiences, but not until I have spent some time trying to get over my SHARK fear.

Chloe & Steven show off their Swoosh towels

Chloe & Steven show off their Swoosh towels

Elated! Post-Swoosh 

Elated! Post-Swoosh 

Small is Still Beautiful: A year in programmes

By Sachin Tiwari  

Most of our daily work at FRANK Water, and especially in India, is about taking stock – of situations, projects, funds and relationships. The end of the calendar year then, is just another occasion to take stock of the year as it unfolded, to note the highs and the lows, what keeps us upbeat about our work and what we hope in the year ahead. The following is then an account of some observations from programs and a few lessons that I think my colleagues would agree with.

January at FRANK Water sounded like those bees in high Himalayan meadows, busy with too much to gather and too much to explore. Most of us were involved in setting up new partnership and FRANK Water's small steps into Nepal. By the end of February we were almost ready to begin operations in Nepal with our first partner – Friends’ Service Council Nepal (FSCN) in Kathmandu. There were equally compelling reasons to consider working in Nepal’s terai region. But our experience of working in such remote areas was limited to India’s geography. To do the same justice in Nepal required more time and resources that could be committed at that time.

With the distance of these months, we can see now that in the intent of doing real, absolutely need-based interventions is also a matter of making difficult choices. There we were - looking at a glaring need for the kind of infrastructure we support in building in Nepal’s far-Eastern villages and at the same time feeling limited by our need to deliver on it to a satisfactory level. Work not done, is sometimes better than work done that is incomplete or one which works up hope among people but doesn’t deliver. We stepped back.

The new financial year began with equally fast pace of activity in India as well. We got back to our partner VJNNS with our friends at Arup, to begin understanding how our (and other agencies’) work in supporting gravity-based water systems is affecting the environment and especially, water resources at a catchment scale. This was the kind of work we hope to do more of, in years ahead i.e. to complete the chain of problem-intervention-change-assessment-follow-up. The follow-up part of our work was enhanced this year, especially with Arup’s support. Long term monitoring is being strengthened and we are glad that this could happen.

The other major change that my colleagues Jon and Praveena have contributed the most is introduction of Adaptive Programme Management (APM). Our programs need to change, as the social, political, financial and environmental contexts changed in the areas we work. A hard set program would render the intervention ineffective and more importantly irrelevant. Hence, this was done on priority. This has been conducted through the year with some of our partners. And we plan to carry it forward next year as well. Our partners now operate with a confidence that they can change a program’s specifics should there be a need to. We will have results to share by this time next year.

With March and April consumed in financial reporting and routine project work, it was summer when most of the drinking water infrastructure that we support gets a real test. This is the most useful period for us to gather lessons from. This brings me to a significant and certainly a progressive realization – that small is still beautiful! In these times when programs are assessed on scale, we find that small is still relevant. Insights from small-scale interventions have driven us in meaningful and relevant directions that have helped communities we work with. That can’t always be said of large-scale projects. Even though one can draw satisfaction from having notionally impacted a large number of lives or a vast geography, one can’t walk from door-to-door and hear firsthand those stories of change and impact. Until that happens, the world goes on believing that bigger is always better. The year’s lesson is that small-scale projects serve a tremendously important role in serving a community with appropriate technology and lead to an empowered status for all – for people as well as for those NGOs, groups and funding agencies that were a part of the work. The argument is not made in opposition to large-scale projects. Neither is it an argument of convenience because FRANK Water's funds don’t appear anywhere close to the world of development and aid agencies. It is to acknowledge the merit of small-scale and its relevance to our work. Further, that Schumacher’s words from Small is Beautiful, may still be relevant and at times support of a kind of world view that is worth considering –

“Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology toward the organic, the gentle, the elegant and beautiful.”

When I hear the gurgling stream of water flowing out of the pipe that brings it from high mountain springs and down the course see a kitchen garden flourishing in that water, in the hills of Eastern Ghats, I imagine this gentle, elegant and beautiful.

It is perhaps this ears-to-ground style of working at FRANK Water that helps its partners find confidence in working together. In the last few months of 2017, we have had two large, multi-year partnerships coming through. These, in part, are a validation of our work and of the spirit that we espouse. We close the year with confidence and faith in the work that we are committed to.

Happy New Year to our readers!





Flooding in South Asia - an update from FRANK's Partner in Nepal

Floods in South Asia have affected more than 41 million people across Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Whilst FRANK Water is not an emergency response organisation, when the people we work with are affected by natural disasters, we aim to support them as best we can and keep in close contact with our partners in India and Nepal.  

Our NGO Partner in Nepal, FSCN, recently sent us this report to describe the situation in the Terai area of Nepal, where we work.   

'As detailed by the report of Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), Nepal experienced a period of sustained, heavy rainfall resulting in widespread flooding across 28 of the country’s 75 districts. The same report counts 149 people dead, 27 missing and 134 injured.

Flood waters rising 

Flood waters rising 

Almost 64,997 houses have been destroyed and a further 14,4973 houses damaged or partially destroyed. An estimated 92,216 families have had to leave their homes to live in informal shelters including schools. Some 40 communities across the country remain inaccessible. 

Local house damaged by flooding 

Local house damaged by flooding 

Families seek temporary shelter in a local school

Families seek temporary shelter in a local school

Displaced families lay out blankets to sleep in temporary shelters

Displaced families lay out blankets to sleep in temporary shelters

Flood has affected numerous districts of the Terai belt of Nepal and FSCN (Friends Service Council Nepal) and National Disaster Management Network Nepal (DiMaNN) have distributed relief materials to a total of 200 households in the most severely affected, hardest to reach communities in the region. 

Together, FSCN and DiMaNN have distributed food to each household (including 5kg flour, 1kg salt, 1kg sugar, 1kg lentil and 1 litre of oil) as well as hygiene kits (5 bathing soaps, 3bars of soap for clothes washing, 4 toothbrushes, toothpaste, ladies underwear and sanitary pads/clothes for each household). 

Relief parcels distributed among flood-affected communities  

Relief parcels distributed among flood-affected communities  

Relief is distributed among flood affected people 

Relief is distributed among flood affected people 

As well as practical support, FSCN, DiMaNN and Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights Nepal (FPCRN)'s study team have spent time visiting various areas of flooding to meet some of the people affected. They've produced a written analysis of the situation in seven different districts that they'll share with the government, non–government, media and other key stakeholders to help inform short and long-term planning.   

Big Change...

Vin2o has worked with FRANK Water for nearly two years. Vin2o import and sell great wine, working with smaller producers, who are passionate about wine-making, and who look after the environment. For every bottle of wine they sell, they donate 25p to FRANK Water. Here, Chris Coles, Founder of Vin2o explains why he supports FRANK Water.    

Did you use your phone to order your lunch today? Or park your car? Or pay for your coffee? There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing any of these things. The world seems to be offering us more and more ways to save a minute here, or a few seconds there, or to free us from the burden of remembering this or that, all in the name of convenience and progress.

For me the problem with this is that a lot of bright, talented people are using their skills and creativity to fix really small problems, often problems we didn’t know we had. After all, before we could pay for coffee with our phones we all still managed to pay for our coffee.

What if all that enthusiasm and intelligence could be used to try and fix a big problem? What if instead of fixating on marginal gains and increments of convenience we committed to fixing something huge? What if we poured our abilities and time into something that would make a fundamental difference to people’s lives? 

The thing is that “big change” seems difficult. It seems like the preserve of experts, or scientists or nobel-prize winners. But I disagree. Big change can be achieved by anyone who points their energy and talent in the right direction. 

When I decided to start a business I knew I wanted to aim for big change rather than marginal gain. The goal of the business is simple, create great wine and use the profit to help fund clean water projects. One of the advantages of have a clear goal is that suddenly a lot of other elements become easier. We only work with producers who are passionate about wine making and care about the environment. Our latest range wines are a pair of Organic Spanish wines made by a family producer is Spain whose winery is 100% powered by renewable energy.

Our new red is a Garnacha Tintorara, a variety native to Almansa in southern Spain where it is produced. It’s deep red and full of summer fruit and sour cherry flavours. Our new white is a Verdejo-Sauvignon blend, a crisp fresh white full of lime, pear and tropical fruit.


When you’ve got a clear goal and a great product all you need is great customers. That’s why were listed in places like The Ethicurean, The Yeo Valley Canteen and Novel Wines.

I also needed a charity partner that can make Big Change happen and that’s why I support FRANK Water. They have provided safe water to over 330,000 people across India and that’s BIG CHANGE. That’s people being healthy, that’s children going to school, that’s women freed from drudgery, that’s dignity for all. Every bottle of wine we sell helps to fund the vital work that FRANK does. Our wine won’t save you time, or make your existence easier, but for someone else it could be life changing, and I’ll drink to that.

You can be among the first to taste Vin2o’s new bottles at FRANK Water’s Karma Comedy night – along with our friends at Novel Wines, we’re kicking off proceedings with a wine-tasting reception, to be followed by a feast from Thali Café and laughs from award-winning comedian Ahir Shah. Tickets are just £40 – and every penny of profit funds FRANK Water’s work.

Book your place today at

FRANK Water & Arup Project Team visit India

Arup team members Charlotte and Steven visited FRANK Water projects in India where they were working on the development of an environmental assessment tool with the FRANK team

An Arup team has been developing a tool for FRANK Water to use with their NGO partners to assess the environmental impacts of their water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions. The intention is to develop an overarching environmental assessment tool and action plan which can improve the sustainability of FRANK Water's projects, and contribute to greater understanding, reporting and action on environmental aspects in the WASH sector. This tool can be specialised for different types of interventions and different NGO partners.

Team members Charlotte and Steven have recently returned from a trip to India where they were working with FRANK Water and their India-based NGO partner, Visakha Jilla Nava Nirvana Samithi (VJNNS). FRANK and VJNNS develop gravity-fed water systems in remote mountainous areas in Andhra Pradesh, providing safe and accessible water for marginalised communities. The Arup team visited a number of these systems and communities, and worked with the team in India to develop a tool which can be incorporated into VJNNS's existing process to assess the environmental impacts of their systems. VJNNS will be trialling the tool over the next few months on a number of their proposed systems.

In the meantime the Arup team will be working with FRANK Water in the UK on consolidating the tool and getting it to the stage where it can be shared on a wider platform. 

If you would like any further information or are interested in getting involved in this project, please get in touch with Charlotte Brown.

22nd March is World Water Day! Find out more about our partnership with FRANK Water here, and support FRANK Water's World Water Day campaign here.

FRANK Water is an Arup Strategic Partner for 2016-2019. 

Drum roll please! We're thrilled to announce Anita Rani is FRANK Water's newest charity patron!

Strictly superstar and BBC Countryfile presenter, Anita Rani has been announced as patron of UK water charity, FRANK Water.

Anita first lent her support to the charity by voicing FRANK Water’s Radio 4 Charity Appeal in July 2016. The appeal, which aired twice in one week, raised more than £15,000 for the charity.

As well as her star turn as a celebrity dancer, Anita is best-known as presenter on BBC One’s Countryfile. She has also presented and co-presented a number of factual programmes on India, including The World’s Busiest Railway Station for BBC Two, part of BBC’s major India season in 2015. 

Katie, Founder and CEO at FRANK Water, said: “We are thrilled that Anita has agreed to become a patron of FRANK Water. She’s a true advocate for our work, especially the support we offer women and girls – usually those who are most affected by a lack of safe water. She understands as we do, that all development starts with water.” 

FRANK Founder Katie & Anita 

FRANK Founder Katie & Anita 

 Anita Rani said: “Having got to know the FRANK Water team and their projects over the last six months, I knew it was a cause I wanted to support in the long term. With water, comes education, health, rights and livelihoods and, importantly improved life chances for women and girls.  Before everything, clean water.”

Anita Rani, FRANK Water's newest patron 

Anita Rani, FRANK Water's newest patron 

This World Water Day, Anita Rani is supporting FRANK Water’s #Drop4Drop Appeal. From 22nd March 2017, all donations (up to £2500) will be doubled, giving supporters the chance to make double the difference.

Donations will be matched by Blue Sky Botanics - one of FRANK Water’s corporate partners.

How to run a marathon (in Under 3 1/2 hours...!)

Ben Hitchcock works for FRANK Friends, Bart Ingredients. This Bristol institution has been importing herbs and spices from around the world for more than 50 years. In April this year, Ben takes on a new challenge - to run the London Marathon for FRANK Water! In his blog below, Ben describes the highs, lows, do's and dont's of training for a marathon. Read on...

I am a runner already and in fact, I’ve run the London Marathon before, 15 years ago  but every time the event comes around in April I watch in absolute amazement at all the runners, the fun they appear to be having, the support that everyone of them receives along every inch of the 26 miles and, of course, their huge achievement.

So I decided I’d like to have another go - join the thousands that tread the pavements of London and compete with the world’s elite at the same time - there aren’t many sports events that you can boast that fact!

I do also have a personal agenda - that is to beat my time of fifteen years ago, 3 hours, 31 minutes, this is where I may have bitten off more than I can chew!

So I begin to train, following a 16 week marathon programme and within a week I realised just why I had chosen not run a marathon since 2002!

It is the amount of miles you have to rack up, relentless and the timing of the marathon means that the long winter runs are done in the cold or the wind or the rain and very often all three.

My whole body, especially the legs, feel sore and tired all the time, I thought that as I became fitter, all the aches would subside and then I’d adopt that effortless running style of Mo Farah.

Ben sets out on yet another training run... 

Ben sets out on yet another training run... 

I am a member of a running club The Dorset Doddlers, and I’d say without their company on the long runs I am not sure how I could have got through the mileage required to get to the starting line with half a chance of completing the race. They are supportive, encouraging and their witty banter is always welcome when you are 10 miles into a 20 mile run 7am on a Sunday morning and it is pouring with rain.

I am up to 22 miles for the long runs and I average around 35 miles a week.

I have not had any injuries (touch wood) that have impacted my training but I am learning at age 53 that I need to nurse my body through this adventure so I stretch for England and cross train, cycling, spinning and swimming to give my legs some rest, though they may argue differently.

I have not thought about or changed my diet so far but I am aware that I will need to focus on this leading up to the last few weeks before the race, though I have rediscovered my love for sweet tea.

I am also aware how quickly the race is creeping up, only 7 weeks to go but I have to say that I am really looking forward to the day. I have always loved running races and this one is special. The atmosphere and support is a heady mix which I shall enjoy and hopefully employ to my advantage and run to my best in the knowledge that my wife and children, family and friends will be cheering me on along the way.

I am really privileged to be running on behalf of FRANK Water. I became aware of the charity through Bart who support FRANK Water and was proud to be offered a place in the race. I used to work in tea and spent much time in India sourcing teas so it felt appropriate to be involved with a charity where I felt I could help give a little back to a country I have been involved with and loved for over 30 years.

I have set up a Justgiving page and now focusing on the other hard task of raising funds, leaving no stone unturned. 

You can support me here and help provide life-changing safe water and sanitation to people living without. 

3 weeks, 4 states, 22 villages & 1 birthday, FRANK Founder Katie reflects on her trip to India

As CEO of FRANK Water, my dream has always been to fund safe water. But with no personal experience in development - other than what I’ve learnt since I started FRANK in 2005, I’ve had to employ experts to support the development and growth of the charity. Keeping costs in mind, we now have two part time programme staff in India, who coordinate the work with partners and provide them with ongoing support, which also means that we don’t have to spend our hard won donations on so many flights to India. 

Read More

Ordinary Lives?

Hosted in Dovey Yacht Club, Wales, the simple, effective series of Ordinary Lives? talks not only raise money for FRANK, they attract unexpected adventurers, entrepeneurs and businesspeople with fascinating stories to tell. Here, Katie, one of the three brains behind the series updates us on the story so far and what to look forward to in 2017. 

The most recent ‘Ordinary Lives?’ event took place in Dovey Yacht Club on the 11th of December. These talks are designed so that local people with supposedly ‘ordinary’ lives can share their weird and wonderful experiences. These events raise money for FRANK water that work with communities to provide access to clean, safe water and sanitation through sustainable methods 

The most recent talk was done by Bob Tyrell with the story on how his family’s name became one of the most successful formula 1 teams in the world. Also, a great talk was Nick Dawson’s experience dog sledding in Sweden. Sound ‘ordinary’ to you? 

These pair of talks alone raised £580 for Frank Water and the talks in all have raised over £3000 so far. The next talk will take place in the Dovey Yacht Club once again, beginning at 18.30 on the 8th of January. Everyone welcome! Welcome in the New Year with inspiration from ‘Ordinary Lives?’ 

A poster advertising last month's Ordinary Lives talk...

A poster advertising last month's Ordinary Lives talk...



Handsploshing Habit!

Sink, water, soap - splish, splash, splosh,

Make washing your hands a handwashing habit.

Keep disease away with a soapy slosh -

Sink, water, soap - splish, splash, splosh.

Wet hands, scrub hands, wash, wash, wash,

Bottled soap, soap bar - go for it - grab it!

Sink, water, soap, - splish, splash, splosh,

Make washing your hands a handwashing habit.

c.2016 Martin Kiszko The UK’s Green Poet

Martin Kiszko is 2016 Poet in Residence for FRANK WATER  

This poem is a Triolet. A Triolet stems from medieval French poetry and is a poem with eight lines. Its rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB . The first, fourth and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final line, which make the first and final couplets identical. 

Global Handwashing Day is Saturday 15th October 2016. Without understanding the importance of handwashing and hygiene, safe water and sanitation are made redundant. Read our report into how we changed people's attitude to handwashing and their behaviour in two districts in Chhattisgarh. 

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2016

Saturday, 28th May 2016 is Menstrual Hygiene Day! 

Did you know that 10% of all girls in India think menstruation is a disease? 
Here, Jon, FRANK Water's India Programme Manager explains why for girls and women in India, safe water and proper toilets are more important than you'd think...

FRANK Water Programmes Manager, Jon Shepherd explains the link between sanitation and education and why girls so often miss out 

Health, happiness and a big heart: A letter of gratitude to Bala Vikasa

Martyn Jones is one of FRANK Water's valued ambassadors. His wife, Gemma, volunteers at FRANK on a regular basis. When Martyn & Gemma got married, they asked guests to donate to FRANK Water in place of wedding gifts. Here, Martyn recounts his recent trip to India to visit Bala Vikasa and FRANK Water's Telangana Programme.    

Growing up, India was always a mysterious place to me.  I led a sheltered childhood in a quiet village in Wiltshire, where time moved slowly and the biggest talking point was the great tractor incident of 1991 (a farmer tipped over his tractor and a crane was brought in to rescue it, causing great excitement).  My childhood was brightened by visiting friends and family, including my uncle who travelled widely and would bring stories of his adventures in faraway lands.  I remember his stories of Indian beaches, animals and spices.  He would bring back presents wrapped in newspaper, and I would try to decipher the lines of unusual script, never quite sure which way was up. 

But one day we had a phone call.  I remember the hushed tones in the hallway when my dad found out it was the British High Commission in New Delhi, with news of my uncle’s death.  To this day, I’m still not sure of the exact situation aside that my uncle died from dysentery caused by contaminated food or water.  Years later, I was touched when I found out about an amazing charity called FRANK Water, and I've since been really impacted by FRANK's work to provide water, sanitation and hygiene to communities in need in India.  The more I found out about FRANK Water's projects - often in remote, tribal areas of India - the more my curiosity grew about life in India.

And so it came for my first trip to India, with my wife Gemma. FRANK Water (and one of their Indian partners, an NGO called Bala Vikasa) offered the opportunity to visit some of their projects in Telangana state, near the city of Warangal.  As a first time visitor, looking at a map of Telangana provided my first lesson about India: it is huge!  Warangal city hardly appears on a map of India, yet it is actually a conurbation of three cities with a combined population of over one million - bigger than Birmingham! 

We arrived at Hyderabad airport refreshed after holidaying in Mumbai, Goa and Kerala.  We knew our time in India was coming to an end but, instead of the usual end-of-holiday-blues, we were excited to be visiting the people we’d heard so much about. Arriving at Hyderabad airport, we were greeted by Madhu Reddy, an engagement worker from Bala Vikasa.  Madhu was to be our guide for the next few days as we joined him on his travels from village to village whilst he monitored the progress of FRANK’s projects and spoke with community members to ensure the long term sustainability of these projects. Madhu had arranged for a driver to take us to the remote villages – we were to spend many hours in his car over the next four days!

Our first destination was the Bala Vikasa training centre in Warangal.  This residential centre was to be our base for the next four days.  Usually it hosts delegations from across Asia, who come to learn best practise tools and techniques in international development.  Here we spent time with Madhu and his boss, Pratap.  They told us about the communities we would be visiting, and gave us some background about the local area and the causes of water contamination.

Early the next morning, we set out to visit Gonepalli and Irukode villages in the Medak district, about 2.5 hours from Warangal.  In both these villages, the ground water supply is contaminated by fluoride.  FRANK Water and Bala Vikasa have provided water purification equipment, which provides clean water on-demand. The villagers sign up to an Oyster card scheme, which allows them to visit the purification plant and withdraw water 24/7, tagging in with their card and paying approx. 20p for a jerry can of 20 litres of water.  The water is perfectly safe to drink straight from the tap, and we enjoyed sipping the refreshing, cool water in Irukode.

Also in Irukode, we met a man named Rohan who had previously suffered painful joints which affected his work as a rickshaw driver. Since switching to purified water 12 months ago, he is free from pain and is able to enjoy his work and earn a living once again.

On Sunday, we visited two tribal communities in Warangal district (again about 2.5 hours from Warangal city). In Thirmalagandi and Doravari Vempally villages, the groundwater supply is safe but there had not previously been convenient access to the water from within the villages.  In Doravari Vempally, we met a really happy group of about 30 women whose lives have been transformed by the village water tower!  They told stories of how they used to fear the long walk to the open well on the outskirts of the village, where snakes and uneven ground made fetching water an everyday danger.

We were told we were the first British people to visit Doravari Vempally since the 1980s.  Back then, a well was constructed but nobody asked the villagers where they wanted the well to be built, so it was placed in an inconvenient location far from the village centre. This highlighted the importance of community involvement to the success of Bala Vikasa's projects.  FRANK and Bala Vikasa have funded the construction of water towers in the centre of each village, along with pumping equipment to draw water from boreholes to the water towers.  The villagers here subscribe to a ‘club’ which for a small annual fee allows them to draw as much water.

Throughout our trip we were so impressed by the level of positive community engagement at each of FRANK’s projects.  This was really reinforced by Madhu’s commitment to the communities he serves and the huge heart he has for helping others.  We're incredibly grateful to Madhu, Pratap, Shoury and Sunita for making us feel so welcome at Bala Vikasa.


The accidental ambassador

I am an accidental ambassador at FRANK Water.

Ironically I found them during the DART 10K swim in 2014 and haven't looked back since.  The ten year anniversary in 2015 gave me a unique opportunity to see our work first hand in India. It's stirred something deep inside me.

I've been to Agra many times with my family since the early 70's. I've driven past the Nagars (slums) we visited without a second look. When I was there this time I was surprised to see that they exist clearly, provided your eyes are open. The visit to each of them was fascinating, frustrating and compelling in plentiful measures. The overall strategy took me some time to clarify for my own head. It's not the live aid version where we give everything to the needy, make it better, cut and run, revisit with a big crew and realise nothing has changed, then start the same cycle again.

FRANK Water and their partner, Cure, are deeply rooted in a long term strategy that serves the lowest caste and most marginalised people of Agra. I witnessed the evidence of ongoing changes, improvements in people's lives and a real sense of ownership. This is in an environment of abject poverty, raw sewage and the surrounding still time frame of India. And yet I met strong eloquent women who were profoundly proud of their achievements and youth groups that spent their free time improving the community. FRANK, CURE and Farhad Bhai (a FRANK Water consultant, based in India) were there to listen, understand, direct or nudge but the main improvement seemed delivered by the residents.  They pulled me by the arm to demonstrate their water filtering system and spotless roof.

I met youth groups traditionally out of sorts between child and adult hood. But these young people had a shared sense of community and did things for the benefit of all not themselves (two talks from youth groups boys and girls) 

I felt that with the direction and technical advice from FRANK Water and CURE, these worthy peoples could achieve something for themselves that society has failed to deliver. The residents said that goals of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) had helped them to reduce infection and increase their health (their words not mine). 

I did challenge misperceptions in the CURE staff about the varied success of each project.  I saw motivated, engaged and talented residents in each area who were willing to learn from each other and their neighbours.  I did not agree that the differences in progress between the different areas could not be laid at a religious door.  To their credit CURE are seeking out a team that has representation from key religious stakeholders. 

I found Farhad Bhai a true champion of this kind of charity work.  Annabelle, Sarika and Jon from FRANK Water have become good friends. Neil, Sarah, Tim and Jackie from Tarka Springs had some fascinating perspective on implementation. Sienna, Jim, Sam and Jon from Thali Cafe were great. I have shared something deep and personal with each of this group. In my view I have a much better understanding and basis to speak about the work we do and encourage people from everywhere to contribute. 

What's all the noise about?

Google analytics…SEO….Adwords...Site Extensions…Tag Manager…

Still with me?

Good. Because if this jumbled series of words resonates with you then you’ll want to hear what’s coming next. 

Imagine if you could speak to every single person who visited your website each day, find out the journey they’d taken to arrive there in the first place, what they were looking for, whether they found it and why they left.

It’s valuable stuff that kind of information – it helps you understand how you can give your web visitors the kind of experience that will make them do what you want them to do.  But with more than 10,000 visitors to the FRANK website every day, it’s safe to say our one-man comms team would have her work cut out.

Which is why Google Analytics is so important. It does all that for you. It tells you how people got there, when they left, what they did. It’s critical if like us, you want people to do stuff (donate, buy, sign up) when they reach your website, rather than bouncing straight off again.  

We’ve spent countless hours trying to work out exactly what does and doesn’t work. Does anyone read our blog? Who? How do we make sure people find what they’re looking for? Is there something that stops visitors buying a bottle/making a donation/signing up to the newsletter? Why do they fall at the last click?  

Enter Noisy Little Monkey…yep, that really is their name – the answer to your digital prayers.  This gang of creative, likeable and jaw-droppingly knowledgeable experts deal in all things SEO, analytics, design and more. 

We spent just a single afternoon with Nic, resident analytics expert at Noisy Little Monkey and came away brimming with knowledge, confidence and yes, enthusiasm for the one part of my job that has always felt just beyond my grasp.

Nic covered everything – with patience, clarity and insight. We ironed out wrinkles, answered questions, understood terms, created fabulously useful reports and practiced key actions.

No, we won’t be generating daily custom reports. But yes, we'll check in weekly to find out what’s gone down in the world of our website, let the team know which blogs have been most popular, find out how our social campaigns have performed and tweak our adword campaigns to ensure traffic is going where it should be.  Thanks to Noisy Little Monkey, Google Analytics is no longer a big, scary monster that lives under the bed but a digital marketing dream.  



Pete the Piper

Today is World Poetry Day! Celebrate by seeing how quickly you can say this ‘water-twister’ without getting tongue tied? Can you write a tongue twister on the theme of water?


Pete the piper piped a pipe to pipe the water flow, 

A pipe to pipe the water flow Pete the piper piped.   

The type of hype about the pipe that Pete the piper piped,

Was hype that Pete the piper piped out on a type of pipe! 


c. Martin Kiszko 

Martin is FRANK Water's Poet in Residence for 2016 

Toilet Trip

On International Women's Day, FRANK Water's Poet in Residence, Martin Kiszko, highlights what life can be like for women in India who live without a safe drinking water and sanitation.   

Sometimes in the house

All I’ve got

To use as a toilet

Is a tin or a pot.

So out I must go

And knock at a door

Where I’m sent back

Like the times before.

Even the village bar has said

‘You can’t go here. Go back to bed’

So I step out again into the night

All the time burning and churning inside


There’s always a chance

I could be attacked,

I glance over shoulders,

Watch by back.

Who knows if I’ll find

Somewhere that’s safe,

Where I won’t be taunted

With jeers of disgrace,

I feel I’ll burst if I don’t find a place.


With each nervous step

The search goes on…

There’s no knowing what lurks

In the bush or trees

Wherever I stop

There could be disease.

What else can I do

But risk life and limb

As I continue this trek,

Haunted by words

That my mind unfurls:

There are billions of hours

Lost by women and girls...

On these dangerous trips

With the painful wait

To find a place

To urinate or defecate.


c.2016 Martin Kiszko

Who is FRANK?

Don’t look at me blank when I mention Frank,

Or think that I may be a bit of a crank,

You can fire your questions at me point-blank

And ask me about just who is Frank?

Is he a clerk who works in a bank,

Or is he a jokester who pulls a prank?

Perhaps he’s a soldier who drives a tank,

Or a pirate walking a galleon’s plank.

Was he Frankenstein first then shortened to Frank -

A monster from the dark and dank?

Some say he’s a bird – a spotted redshank,

Or the supporting actor to Tom Hanks,

A magic elf that shrank and shrank,

Or a constable of considerable rank.

He could be a convict in chains that clank,

Or a computer’s ID in a databank,

The name of a ship that sailed and sank,

Or a refillable bottle from which you drank.


c.2016 Martin Kiszko

Fresh from his role as Poet in Residence for Bristol Green Capital 2015 and dubbed the UK’s Green Poet, Martin Kiszko will put his literary talents to the test as FRANK Water's Poet In Residence for 2016!  

I’m looking forward to a wowfabsuperical and specstupentacular time writing poetry to round off FRANK Water’s amazing 10th anniversary year and kickstart the next! As FRANK continues the flow of safe clean water to vulnerable communities, I’ll be going with the flow too – but in a poetical way – watering the real and digital world with words and waxing lyrical about water through the power of poetry. Brilltastagorical!
— Martin Kiszko, Feb 2016

Mountains & forests

Just off the plane, Jon, FRANK Water's Programmes Manager updates us on his recent visit to meet some of the communities & partners that we work with. 

"I’ve just returned from visiting our India programme and, whilst there’s too much to tell you about everything, here’s a few of my overarching impressions. 

Impact – we have helped people change their lives.

Since 2005, FRANK Water has worked with over 300,000 people to get clean, safe water into their communities. It never fails to hit me what a massive difference clean water, at your door, can do.

This latest visit was no exception. Dosai Korra made a lasting impression when she talked about spending her first 75 years collecting water from a river bed that was contaminated by cattle and washing. The tap you can see is 10 yards from her house. The change is unbelievable and the warm handshake unforgettable. 


Working with marginalised and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) is the right strategy.

There are huge numbers of people living in poverty in the world and within that, great numbers of people with no access to water or sanitation. So where does FRANK Water fit in? Well, the UN itself gave us a good lead in suggesting two things:

1. There are as many people living in poverty in India as in sub-Saharan Africa and more of them have no access to sanitation and poor access to water.

2. The world has been helping the ‘low hanging fruit’ and now needs to concentrate on the hardest to reach, most marginalised people.

So, since 2013, FRANK Water has worked almost exclusively with Scheduled Tribe (ST) and PVTGs in remote or marginalised parts of India. We work with PVTGs from the forests of Chhattisgarh to the mountains of Andhra Pradesh and, having recently returned from these areas, it's clear that they need our help the most.


Advocacy to the government – making the money work harder

FRANK Water is the ‘small charity with a big impact’. But what does that actually mean at a community level in India? Well, in one way we make a huge impact on the lives of those we work with. But for me, it means making our relatively small amount of funding work as hard as it can – and that means advocacy. 

Advocacy to local, state and national governments can change policies and therefore people’s access to rights, funding and decision makers. It makes our money work by giving examples of what can be done and then asking the government to scale up our work.

On my latest visit, I asked our local partner Samerth about this ‘leveraging’ and they gave me an amazing answer. With the £50,000 we have funded them over the last three years, communities have accessed over £600,000 of government-funded work! In this way, FRANK Water can make a much bigger impact that its size would suggest. 


Communities doing it for themselves – the leap of faith

Lastly, the message I always give when asked to talk to community groups as a whole is “You made this happen. You made the decision to work with us and you have done the hardest yards.”

These aren't just words, they're the truth. For us to work with a community, the majority of the work on planning, infrastructure and ongoing maintenance is up to them. But more than that, it's the change in mindset at a community level that's the key – the leap of faith to say “we can do this for ourselves”.