Win Sky Team Jersey signed by Olympic & Paralympic cyclists

Paralympic Cyclist, Crystal Lane is auctioning a Sky Team Jersey signed by no fewer than 22 Paralympic & Olympic Cyclists. All proceeds go to FRANK Water. Place your bids here Read on to find out more about Crystal's ride for FRANK Water. sky jersey

When FRANK Water asked me to fundraise for them by riding the Wiggle Dragon Ride in Wales my first thought was it would make a nice change to not ride my bike for me but for those people in India who need safe water. I was shocked when I read the facts on their website about how many people still don't have access today. It's something I've taken for granted living in the UK.

I planned to make a weekend of it by camping the night before near Margam Park in a lovely, friendly campsite called Brynhyfryd camping and so travelled down to Wales on Saturday afternoon from my base in Manchester where I live and train as a track sprinter on the para-cycling squad, full-time. Cycling outdoors can be hugely dictated to by the elements and the weather forecast was mixed for the weekend. I had cycled an hour to and from training in the days leading up to the race and been soaked from the rain almost everyday. I don't dislike riding in the rain but I LOVE riding when it's warm and sunny.

The race was actually going to be part of my regular training,  set but the coaching staff in Manchester. Normally I do a road ride on a Saturday and rest on Sunday so it made little difference to my schedule and was nice to ride a new route. I was extremely lucky with the weather, the tent was set up in glorious sunshine and I ate my dinner outside on the grass but the resident chickens also wanted a taste and one even tried to get to the chicken breast I was eating! Camping is great for getting an early night and by 9pm I was tucked up in my sleeping bag. Shortly afterwards, it started to rain which is a great sound on the tent.

My alarm went off at 7am - it was warm and the sun was shining. I fuelled well for the riding ahead by eating porridge, boiled eggs and a banana (not all at the same time). Then I drove to the start line along with the other 4,500 people! With my number pinned on the back of my FRANK Water t-shirt I stood at the start line. There were so many people and lots were also riding for charities. People were chatting away asking what previous training people had done in preparation for the event. I knew Wales was hilly as I used to race for a Welsh team a few years back in Abergavenny and the training back then has still, to this day, been some of the hardest I've ever done because the terrain and weather conditions can be very tough.

The route started along a fast dual carriage way and as I started near the back of the group I spent the first couple of miles making it safely towards the front. There were a few hills at the beginning but then a long, fairly steep hill after a couple of miles. A lot of people were walking up it and I'd be lying if I said my legs weren't hurting towards the top, but I didn't have to walk up it thankfully! Eventually I found some people at the similar pace to me and for a few miles we worked together by taking it in turns to ride on the front into a strong head-wind near Porthcawl beach. It was such a sunny day that when the route took us along the seafront I was grateful it was busy with traffic because it meant I could take the opportunity to look at the stunning scenery. The roads were generally free from traffic and I met up with a guy along the route and we rode the last part together back into the green fields near Margam park. It meant I got to chat about FRANK Water too as the t-shirt was a good conversation starter. He was riding for the charity 'Help the Heroes' which is a well-known one but he hadn't heard of FRANK Water and I enjoyed telling him about them.

Crystal crossing the finish

It was a hilly drag back to the finish line but with my water finished I wanted to get back for some refreshments and also to meet my friends who had come to see me finish the route. There was a great sense of pride to finish the route knowing I'd completed it to help others. I met up with my friends, refuelled and hydrated and then made my way but up to Manchester in preparation for training on Monday afternoon at the velodrome.

Back at the track I spoke to my team-mates, told them what I'd done at the weekend and asked them to sign a brand new Sky cycling jersey to be sold at auction for FRANK Water. Everyone around that day happily signed the top for me and I managed to recruit 22 signatures including multiple Olympic and Paralympic medalists. The auction goes live today for one week.

Place your bids here

If you’re a keen cyclist and would like to ride for FRANK Water, why not sign up for a place at one of our cycling events.

The women-only Cycletta series comprises six events of varying distances. FRANK Water has four places on offer. Contact for more information

Or for an extended challenge, go for the Tour de FRANK, a ride from London to Paris. Check it out here

New Year, New Challenges

April Fools Day for some. The beginning of a new financial year for others. And a timely opportunity to let our FRANK friends and supporters know exactly what we have in store this year. Our Programmes Team have signed agreements with three new NGO partners extending our India Programme into five different states. Over the next year, we’ll be working closely with both new and current partners to fund safe water in no less than 80 separate communities. That means we'll reach just shy of 70,000 people in the next year. Making it over 300,000 helped in total over the last eight years. We're partnering with community-based organisations to work directly on issues of poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in some of the most deprived areas of India. Often the solutions are based on traditional methods such as rainwater harvesting and gravity fed systems but the solutions are always community led and implemented. Our beneficiaries are people living in slums just outside Agra, marginalised rural communities in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, and particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) in Chhattisgarh - people who live so far off the grid that they can’t get hold of the state-provided aid and assistance that the rest of India benefits from. There's a lot of work to be done but we're up for the challenge.

Over the next 12 months, FRANK Water aims to provide these 70,000 people with a consistent, secure and affordable supply of safe drinking water as part of a larger inclusive WASH programme.  Children can attend school. Women and girls can access safe water without fearing for their safety. Men and women can go to work every day to earn a living wage because they no longer regularly suffer from diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases. Safe water really does save lives.

Support FRANK Water to continue its work this year and for many more.


Swimming the Channel for FRANK Water

Three hardy souls set off from Dover on Saturday night to arrive 13hrs later in Calais. They swam through the dark, the cold and various sea creatures to raise money for three charities, including FRANK Water.  Here's Michael's account of the swim: One small picture from our channel swim – this from the beach just outside of Calais yesterday afternoon.   We did the swim in 13 hrs 08 mins, in the end leaving Samphire Hoe beach in Dover at 23h50 on Saturday night and arriving in France at 12h58 yesterday. The 11h10m all-time record for a 3-man relay gives a bit of context.  The first two thirds of the swim was pretty grim, swimming in the dark, water temperature just 15 degrees once you were off the beach and air temperature around 9 degrees. The air temp is critical - we couldn’t get warm between swims which meant we were cold before even starting another hour’s swim, having to force ourselves in and requiring 100% focus on the job both to stay in there and cover a decent amount of ground.

The strict rules for Channel Relays help here, you have to rotate in strict 1hr segments, change-over at 0h58m or 1h02m and you’re disqualified.   The benefit of this is that when you’re in there in the dark, freezing, on no sleep, and frankly a little bit scared (monster jelly-fish which hit you by surprise as you can’t see them coming) you know that you simply cannot get out even a minute early as the whole team will be disqualified. You have to stay in and do your hour no matter what, and when you get out it’s your responsibility to get yourself warm, fed and in the right place mentally so that 2 hours later you can get in again for another hour. Rhys, the 3rd man in the team, told me after we’d finished that to keep going he’d had to look deep into his soul and dig out inner mental strength which he hadn’t had to do for a very long time – this from a serving Commando in the Royal Marines with 2 tours in Baghdad and 2 in Afghanistan under his belt, who successfully completed a 4-man relay 3 yrs ago so knew what he was doing.

That said, come 7.30am, half way through my 3rd hour, the sun came up and the whole thing was transformed. You could see and you could get warm between swims. By the time we finished it was glorious. I got home yesterday evening, went to bed at 20h30 and slept for 11 hours solid.   Now properly back on the case and feeling great. I know this stuff isn’t for everyone, but for me it is the ideal reset – nothing like a dip in cold water to get my head straight, put everything in context and put me in the right place for some proper hard work. It also looks like I’ve raised about £1,750 for 3 great charities, Frank Water, LifeBox & Tommy’s – thank you again.

FRANK Water's World Champion Triathlete

FRANK Friend James Bulley took part in the Triathlon World Championships over the weekend. Read how it went: Well the good news is I am the 4th fastest in the world at transitioning from swim to bike in a triathlon. All that hard work in the shower, soaking the stair carpet and freaking out the neighbours has paid off. Just one place from a medal if there was a event in this sole discipline. Unfortunately no-one has invented this as a single sport yet.

The other good news is that I came 20th in the world in my age group in the triathlon and Penny came in 21st in her race after fighting a niggling calf pain in the run up.

We were blown away by the support we had - we can’t tell you how amazing it was to have so many people we knew cheering us round the course. Thank you so much – we really appreciate it. And an enormous THANK YOU for all the donations to the FRANK Water charity. So far we have raised over £1,300 (with on-line and off-line donations) thanks to all your support, which is enough to supply clean safe drinking water to over 430 people!

And finally a thank you to our army of amateur coaches. It is incredible the amount of advice you can get. I won’t name you all – you know who you are. If anyone out there is thinking of doing triathlons in the future there are a three bits of advice I would like to share:

  • ·         A pint of beetroot juice a day for six days is supposed to increase your endurance. The fact is, frankly it’s disgusting and no-one should try this unless your stomach is lined with a non-corrosive material.
  • ·         If you want to train in a short pool at your villa whilst on holiday don’t try tying elastic bands to your feet attached to the pool ladder. You will most certainly drown.
  • ·        Make sure you arrive at a race with plenty of time to sort your kit. There is nothing more embarrassing than getting in the water wearing your bike helmet (yes I actually watched someone do this at Eton Dorney).

Many, many thanks to you all




Swim for Clean Water

Epic, momentous, beautiful – all words used to describe the Dart 10k – an event that’s fast becoming THE fixture on the wild swimming calendar. But whatever words spring to mind as you take to the water, you can be sure that the River Dart is likely to be cleaner than the water that many people in the developing world are forced to drink. Yes, it’s brackish.  No, we haven’t tested every metre for biological and chemical contamination. But we do know for sure that hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries bathe, cook with and drink water that’s unsafe, every single day. And every day, 4,000 children die as a result of water-related disease. FRANK Water is a small, effective charity that works hard to provide clean water for all by funding safe water projects in developing countries. Since 2005, FRANK Water has funded 104 projects, providing safe, clean drinking water to thousands of the poorest people in the world.

Those of you preparing for your swim, take a minute to think about clean water. Consider how you can make the 2013 Dart 10K even more momentous by providing a whole village with safe drinking water. So far, our Dart 10K swimmers have raised a fantastic total of £1310 for FRANK Water. If you’re swimming the Dart 10k this weekend and you’re looking for someone to raise money for then please do sign up to be part of the FRANK Water/OSS team and raise enough to fund one complete clean water project.

If you’re not swimming this year, but want to be part of the solution and fancy a challenge then check out our upcoming events and get involved! Our calendar of events has something for everyone! If you would like any more information about any of these upcoming events then please contact us at


Summing Up

The final day of World Water Week brought participants together to discuss the main lessons of the week. Broad conclusions always risk simplifying and diffusing the complexity of the issues that were discussed during the conference. Rapporteurs from the week’s sessions were therefore asked to report as concretely as possible on the following three headings, which reflect the conference’s overarching theme of cooperation: “cooperation for what and by whom”, “roadblocks and bridges”, and “the way forward”. Cooperation for what and by whom:

One of the key forms of cooperation discussed during this week has been cooperation between issue sectors such as the water, food and energy sectors. Following on from this, the theme for next year’s conference will be “water and energy”. Another key collaboration in the area of drinking water is collaboration with nature. In order to secure sustainability for water services, it has become apparent that it is necessary to better manage water resources. One example of this is the WaterAid’s community based water resource management ( Another scheme, which we are collaborating with, is a participatory groundwater management scheme in India led by Arghyam ( Other areas of cooperation discussed during the conference include cooperation between the public, private and third sectors; cooperation between local, national and supranational agencies, and, importantly, cooperation within the sector itself.

Roadblocks and bridges:

As keynote speaker Professor Malin Falkenmark noted, one of the key difficulties when it comes to cooperation is that people come to water with very different perspectives. As an example, she showed a diagram which illustrated all of the different perspectives that people could have on the issue of water quality. Chemists, hydrologists, and social scientists for example would all look very differently at the issue. Sociologists may look at different cultural perceptions of cleanliness, chemists might focus on purification techniques, and hydrologists might look at how depleting water sources and pollution are affecting quality. Overcoming this, she suggested, will require a concerted effort to understand issues from others’ perspective. Meanwhile other speakers said that there may be trade-offs involved, and these should be made explicit. For example, a government might need to concede that a scheme such as a dam could contravene the rights of a particular indigenous group. Perhaps another question to ask then is cooperation for whom?

The Way Forward:

Finally, participants discussed a range of different solutions for moving collaboration forward. This included providing policymakers with concrete examples of approaches that have worked and, just as crucially, approaches which have failed; measuring the current costs of the status quo and showing people how much we’re losing by not changing our ways, as well as showing them how much we could benefit through change, and focusing on local, contextualized solutions. Meanwhile, the way forward for this conference will be through the “Stockholm Statement” which will call for a Sustainable Development Goal on water ( The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) look likely to replace the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as global targets to be achieved by countries by 2030 ( Speakers said it was important that there be a distinct goal on water because it is so crucial for development. But at the same time, it was agreed that water is a connecting force, not a sector in its own right. Participants therefore said that water should be considered in all of the other goals as well. Can we have it both ways? On-going discussions will take place regarding what will replace the MDGs.

A further debate, when it comes to the SDGS, is whether high level goals such as SDGs can make a difference. Participants throughout the week have stated that whilst some MDGs were achieved there were significant limitations, including inequitable results, problems with how they were measured, and perhaps most significantly, whether the progress that did occur would have occurred without the MDGs. As one speaker during the week said, high level discussions can be like ‘”rain that never hits the ground”. So in order to be truly effective, the SDGs will need to be measurable, linked to accountability structures and perhaps most importantly, linked to work on the ground. And this is where organisations such as FRANK Water come in. By working on the day to day issues of access to basic services such as drinking water, we gain an understanding of the difficulties that high level declarations face on the ground. And it will be our job over the coming years to collaborate with other organisations to make sure that this information is shared as widely as possible, so that the rain does eventually hit the ground.


The first two years are forever

The first two years are forever This is a saying from Unicef (the United Nation’s Children’s Fund). It refers to the fact that health and nutrition during the first two years of a child’s life are crucial to a child’s development, and irrevocably affect a person’s life chances. The early development of children before they are born, and the subsequent two years of their life will determine not only their physical attributes but their cognitive ability, which will have far-ranging consequences throughout their life. One way to measure this is through height. The height of a child is a good indicator of what happened in utero and during the first two year’s of the child’s life. And in India, around one in five children are already stunted at birth.

Earlier this week, during a session on “making evidence count in the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector”, speakers discussed why this was the case, with a particular focus on the role of sanitation. Poor access to sanitation is linked to a range of diseases, including in particular diarrhoeal diseases but also other illnesses such as nematode infections. In India, diarrhoea accounts for 13% of all under five deaths. There is a close link here to malnutrition. Children who suffer from malnutrition are more susceptible to diarrhoeal diseases, and those who suffer from diarrhoeal diseases then become malnourished. This then affects not only their height, but their overall development.

However, as several speakers have highlighted, it is difficult to say whether sanitation alone is the key factor in determining height, and therefore the best area to target for development. In India, the government has allocated large sums for sanitation, although as other sessions have highlighted, it is not enough to build toilets if there is no water for cleaning them, or no demand from people to use them. New approaches therefore focus on engaging more closely with communities. The evidence for the link between sanitation and hygiene is therefore important in deciding whether scarce resources should be used for scaling up sanitation or not.

One of the difficulties with measuring the impact of sanitation is that illnesses such as diarrhoeal diseases are also closely tied to water and hygiene, and as discussed above, malnutrition. It is difficult to isolate which factor alone is most significant. Another difficulty is that a lack of sanitation may not pose such a significant health risk in areas which are sparsely populated. This is because people are much less likely in such areas to come into contact with the bacteria. However, in areas such as India, where half of the population still have no access to a toilet, and many areas are densely populated, it seems that the risks are much higher. Finally, there is still a lack of rigorous research. Whilst the studies that the speakers in this session discussed therefore indicated a strong link between WASH and height (and therefore child development), they stressed the need for further research.

Similarly, today, in a session convened by WaterAid, speakers discussed the importance of evidence in the context of water security. In particular, they discussed the potential of community monitoring of water resources for improving the sustainability of WASH interventions. Simple, low cost techniques, such as rainfall meters and water level gauges inserted in hand pumps, could be used to generate data about the water flows in the local area. This information could then be used by local communities to create rules and regulations to manage supplies during periods of stress. For example, limits might be set on the amount of water each household can use during the dry season, or activities which require large amounts of water may be restricted during those times. Such information could also be used to identify the most viable sources of water for water supply schemes. In discussions afterwards, speakers discussed whether this was perhaps an additional burden on communities. In order to mitigate the effects on communities, suggestions included harnessing existing institutions such as farmers groups, running competitions in schools to incentivise them to collect the data, and ensuring that communities which participate in such schemes can see the benefits in terms of installing concrete improved water supply schemes in such areas, using the data that they have generated. In this way, community monitoring can enhance rather than undermine existing schemes.

Photography: G Plasmati; Asmara District, Eritrea.

I say water, you say…

This board (pictured above), displayed at World Water Week leads with the title "I Say Water, You Say..." and aptly illustrates the diverse ways in which water matters to different people. World Water Week 2013 has brought together 2,500 people from all over the world. They represent NGOs (non-governmental organisations), international agencies, governments and private companies. As several speakers have noted during this week, pretty much everyone is interested in water in some way, but they all come with different perspectives. Whilst NGOs may be interested in water for basic needs, a government may be interested in water as a security issue. And whilst a farmer may be interested in water for crops, a pastoralist may need water for livestock. At the launch of the Young Professionals Day, discussions centred on the five following issues, each of which involves water in different ways:

  • water and sanitation
  • climate change
  • water and food
  • water and energy
  • transboundary issues
  • ecosystems

Water and sanitation are basic needs and basic human rights. As discussed by Dr Peter Gleick in his keynote speech, the failure to deliver on these rights is perhaps one of the greatest failures of the 20th century. Meanwhile, several discussions have taken place over the week regarding the links between water and food. This includes developments in mapping the trade in virtual water: when we trade, we don’t just trade products such as food, we trade water. The water and energy debate is fairly new, but we at FRANK know from our own experience that the lack of energy can make water supply difficult, and vice versa. Meanwhile, as discussed in yesterday’s blog, transboundary issues around rivers are highly political. And ecosystems are a fundamental part of the equation and one that, according to Gleick, we have historically neglected.

These are all distinct and complex issues. But during discussions over roundtables, some common themes emerged: firstly, the need to go beyond top-down approaches. Schemes which aim to create change, without first engaging with people to understand their concerns, are doomed to failure. Secondly, there is a gap between public awareness and policy, and better communication could be established between the public and policymakers. Finally, in each of these sectors there is a gap between what we know and what we do. More research is needed, but at the same time, more effort needs to go into translating that research into action. A fantastic example was cited of an Indian programme specifically designed to educate policymakers on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene issues). In the UK, meanwhile, the Open University is looking to launch a WASH module which will be open to anyone in the world, using online resources and case studies provided by local partners. These kinds of constructive examples provide the basis on which future collaboration should be built.


Eye on Asia

“Sustainability is not a straight line from A to B, otherwise rivers would be straight” For today, World Water Week has been divided into regional sessions. In the “Eye on Asia” workshop, the focus was on rivers. If you get river flows right, you can address a lot of other water issues, including flooding, water quality and water for food security.  But, as highlighted by Yolanda Kakabadse, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in the above quote, rivers do not follow straight lines. Nor do they follow political boundaries. Today’s sessions considered five issues in particular: mountains, hydropower, urban issues, healthy rivers and the private sector.

Firstly, rivers begin in mountains. Mountains cover around a quarter of the globe, and the water they provide serves around half of the world’s population. They provide livelihoods for mountain dwellers who keep livestock, engage in agriculture, guide tourists and collect herbs with high medicinal value. And they have huge cultural and spiritual value. But the services provided by mountains have been insufficiently recognized, and as mountain ecoysystems are degraded, the consequences include biodiversity loss, destruction of livelihoods and resulting migration, glacier hazards, floods and sedimentation of lowlands.

Meanwhile, there is growing pressure to build dams to generate electricity. Speakers suggested that hydropower dams could indeed potentially provide a source of sustainable energy, but that it was a question of building “the right dam in the right place”. Constructive solutions included mapping rivers to identify where dams could be built without affecting ecosystems, or conversely where new nature reserves could be built to compensate for dams. Whilst this is tricky in practice, particularly when combined with often highly politicised realities on the ground, speakers demonstrated successful case studies where both dams and rivers had been managed in environmentally sustainable ways.

Then there are the pressures of urbanization. In 1950, less than 20% of the Asian population lived in urban areas. It’s now about 45% and by 2050, at this rate, it will be 65%. Panellists suggested that cities need to be planned in “greener” ways for the future, but stressed that there was a difference between “inclusive” and “sustainable” cities. Increasingly sophisticated “green cities” are not justifiable if part of the population still lacks access to basic services. Finally, the discussion centred on the role of the private sector, with Felix Ockborn from H&M making the point that they could not be a “clean fish in a dirty pond”. This indicates that the private sector will welcome environmental standards that create a level playing field.


Photography: GMB Akash; Sathkira District, Bangladesh




White Elephants - the importance of community ownership

In this post, I’m going to talk about the last session I attended on Monday, which was about community ownership. This is because community ownership is a crucial part of our projects. As the speakers in this session noted, there are many “white elephant” projects out there, which don’t work because they were implemented without the consent of communities. Speakers from the International Labour Organisation and the Boqueron Local Government of Paraquay spoke about a rural water and sanitation project that they implemented in an area with an indigineous population. The local community in this project were involved in identifying priority villages as well as designing and implementing the project. This was essential in navigating conflicts such as the multiple water uses in the area. Due to this involvement, the community took care of maintaining and sustaining the water system. However, questions have been raised throughout this conference regarding the extent to which communities can manage water systems. Certainly, communities cannot do it alone – but require support from external actors. One solution being trialled is government contracts to communities. This means that communities can manage their water systems, but there is a formal element to this which means that it can be sustained in the long term.

Another question to ask when it comes to participation, is who participates? Communities are not single entities and there are often divisions within them. One particularly dominant division is gender. Women are often the ones who manage water sources, yet they have little say in decision-making. Ms Tacko Ndiaya, from UN-Women, spoke about a positive case study in the Philippines, where women were being involved in the management of water systems. Preliminary findings here suggest that this has not only improved the running of water services, but the status of women.

In other sessions during the day, the plenary again highlighted the crucial role of nature, with Yolanda Kakabadse, President of the World Wide Fund for Nature highlighting that “water does not come from the tap, it comes from nature”. And in a session on private sector participation, there was a frank discussion on how private sector actors could get involved in water issues beyond their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes. One of the good suggestions was that companies start by ensuring that all of their employees have access to safe water and sanitation. This is a theme that continues throughout the conference…


Life Does Not Happen in Sectors

World Water Week for FRANK Water kicked off with a session on “nature based solutions”. The topic was collaboration between the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and conservation sectors. Speakers highlighted that WASH is all about investing in watershed development to make it sustainable. WASH interventions need a water source, and they produce waste which needs to go somewhere. Panelists highlighted that natural environments such as wetlands are adept at providing both a water source and a ‘sink’. Furthermore, wetlands are fantastic at filtering water, providing a natural way to purify water, particularly in areas where filtration equipment is not possible to implement. WASH interventions can therefore benefit from considering “green” as well as “grey infrastructure”. At the same time, the conservation sector must consider human well-being, and will not be sustainable unless poverty reduction is built into its programming. As Colleen Vollberg, from Conservation International said, “life does not happen in sectors”. When you ask people what their needs are, they will not categorise them as “health needs” or “water needs”. They are simply needs. Ron Clemmer from World Vision agreed, noting that communities are not divided into sectors - they are just divisions we have set up to make programming easier. And whilst collaborating across sectors does make things more difficult (more partners, different organizational cultures), there comes a point at which it is necessary. We look forward to the production of new guidelines that CI will be producing on integrating nature based solutions into WASH.

Collaboration is therefore important. But whilst there is much discussion surrounding collaboration between the WASH and other sectors, e.g the conservation sector, the energy sector, the public sector and the private sector, there is less mention of collaboration within the sector. There are multiple lessons that we can learn and share within the sector, to avoid making the same mistakes. In India, a group of water NGOs have got together to work on participatory groundwater management, training other NGOs and building capacity across the country. This kind of collaboration sets an example for others to follow.

Equally worthy of consideration is something that Paul Hicks from Catholic Relief Services said: “if you find conflict, you must be doing something right”.  In some cases, the interests of the marginalised will not be the same as those of the powerful, and the challenge lies in finding a solution that will take the interests of all parties into account. Whilst collaboration is important, as NGOs, it is critical to keep at the forefront those whose voices are marginalised.

Photography: G Plasmati; Bororo population, Niger

World Water Week 2013 - a look ahead

This year, FRANK Water is travelling to Stockholm for World Water Week, the annual conference that provides a focus point for world water issues. The conference brings together charities, researchers, businesses and governments to discuss the world’s most pressing water challenges. The conference takes place over six days from 1-6 September, and this year the theme is water cooperation. Check out the programme here: Founded in 2005, FRANK Water has eight years of experience working on safe drinking water. In that time, we’ve learnt a great deal about delivering safe drinking water to rural communities, particularly in India. We’ve developed our organisational capacity, built up strong partnerships, and funded over 100 projects. This seems like a good time to pause and not only reflect on what we’ve achieved, but explore how we can share what we’ve learnt with others and engage more with the wider water sector to see how we can develop our work further.

To this end, our Projects and Development Coordinator, Sarika Seshadri will be taking part in the World Water Week activities. Throughout the week she’ll be blogging here about issues that resonate with the work that we do. In particular, she’ll be on the lookout for new approaches to selecting appropriate technology, addressing difficult water quality issues, strengthening institutions to manage water systems sustainably and equitably, and monitoring and evaluation. She’ll also be sharing the latest updates from the conference on Twitter. Follow us on @frankwater and let us know if you’re at the conference and what you think!

World Water Week 2013- a look ahead

This year, FRANK Water is travelling to Stockholm for World Water Week, the annual conference that provides a focus point for world water issues. The conference brings together charities, researchers, businesses and governments to discuss the world’s most pressing water challenges. The conference takes place over six days from 1-6 September, and this year the theme is water cooperation. Check out the programme here: Founded in 2005, FRANK Water has eight years of experience working on safe drinking water. In that time, we’ve learnt a great deal about delivering safe drinking water to rural communities, particularly in India. We’ve developed our organisational capacity, built up strong partnerships, and funded over 100 projects. This seems like a good time to pause and not only reflect on what we’ve achieved, but explore how we can share what we’ve learnt with others and engage more with the wider water sector to see how we can develop our work further.

To this end, our Projects and Development Coordinator, Sarika Seshadri will be taking part in the World Water Week activities. Throughout the week she’ll be blogging here about issues that resonate with the work that we do. In particular, she’ll be on the lookout for new approaches to selecting appropriate technology, addressing difficult water quality issues, strengthening institutions to manage water systems sustainably and equitably, and monitoring and evaluation. She’ll also be sharing the latest updates from the conference on Twitter. Follow us on @frankwater and let us know if you’re at the conference and what you think!

Fundraising the imaginative way

My fundraising trip took place in Novemember 2009 and consisted of a canoe descent of the river Spey from Newtonmore to the sea near Buckie, followed by a unicycle trip back along the Speyside way to Aviemore.
For the first leg of my adventure, the 4 day river descent, I was joined by a fellow paddler making for a much easier trip downriver. All was going well with few to no problems along the way until day four, the final leg. After heavy rain in the night the river was flowing at spate and after boldly jumping back on regardless within seconds we found ourselves swimming with the boat upside down beside us. After swimming for what felt like miles (in reality was probably less than 1 mile) we finally managed to get ourselves and the boat safely onto the river bank (losing only one paddle in the process). After much shivering, jumping around and frantically trying to get into dry clothes, we decided that was quite enough daring for one day and reluctantly rang for a lift home. I later returned with a different paddling companion and in lower water to finish what I had started.
After a night in my own bed it was time to start my 3 day unicycle journey, this time joined on foot by a friend willing to trudge along side me carrying both of our provisions for 2 nights camping. The only problem being that I was in the wrong town, Grantown-on-Spey instead of Buckie, so the following 3 days didn't quite follow in the most logical order. Instead I went from Grantown - Aviemore then got the bus back, had a second night in Grantown before following on again in the opposite direction to the previous day and towards Buckie. All 3 days followed without any further hitches other than the expected wet and slightly chilly weather you expect in the Scottish highlands in November. It was dark most nights when I finished and remember getting a few odd looks and quirky comments along my way, one gentleman even said that at first glance he thought I'd pinched the wheel of someone else's bike and was doing a runner with it much to my amusement.
All in all it was an enjoyable, if not slightly damp and physically demanding few days but all for a good cause and I raised somewhere in the region of £500 for frank water279 273.


Business, Branson & Big Green Week

Business, Branson and Big Green Week It’s not every day that you’re asked to sit around a table with Richard Branson, and it’s no small undertaking, especially when the subject matter is Business Innovation, a topic that he’s pretty hot on. In fact, it transpired that Richard couldn’t make it to Bristol’s Big Green Week in person, opting to take part via 21st century methods instead and lending a tropical note to the proceedings at the same time as he skyped in direct from Necker Island.

But palm trees and pina coladas aside, how best to get the message across in a forum that included environmental greats such as Merlin Hyman of Regen SW, Paula Owens and host, Hon. Sir Jonathon Porritt? After a few sleepless nights, I settled on an angle that steers everything we do at FRANK Water – how small companies can make a big difference, through collaboration, innovation and re-imagining.

And so this is the kind of thing I said…

FRANK Water is a team of quiet activists. Over the last seven years, we’ve funded clean water for more than a quarter of a million people through 96 clean water projects.

We’re a small Social Enterprise AND a registered charity. We share a small Bristol office and a kettle with two other organisations. We can still gather our team around the kitchen table.

Our small organisation aims to address a big problem, providing safe drinking water to the millions of people worldwide who still don’t have access to this basic human right.

As a small company, we have to play to our strengths and our big competitor weaknesses. One of our key strengths is working together. Relationships are crucial.

We work together with our suppliers, distributors and stockists, who help to spread our message. We work together with partners in India whose expertise produce amazing results. We work together with local people who bravely take the initiative to generate change in their own communities. We work together with generous donors who share our vision. We depend on our team of dedicated and talented volunteers. And we learn from experts in the water sector, with whom we in turn share our experiences.  Through working together, small companies like us can multiply our leverage and deliver extraordinary impact.

Our other key strength is our ability to innovate and reimagine. Our size makes us flexible. We can test and reiterate, learn from our mistakes and react to the ever changing environment. It’s worth remembering that the vast majority of innovations are recombinations/reimaginations of existing technologies. Don’t wait for the eureka moment, look at what is already in existence and create new combinations to make it answer the problem you are faced with now.

FRANK Water started by taking a tiny portion of the controversial bottled water market in order to divert profits from our big business competitors to satisfy a local demand and fund clean water projects – water for water.  We reimagined a luxury everyday product to act for good, working as a not for profit social enterprise.

Our drive in the UK is to recreate healthier, greener drinking habits, to influence people away from single use bottles of drinking water to refillable containers.

Our FreeFill initiative, developed for festivals, has reimagined water on the go… providing filtered, chilled site water that reduces waste, encourages healthy drinking habits, changes behaviours and raises funds at the same time

This year at the WOMAD festival, we’ll be announcing that through supporting FreeFIll they’ve funded a complete clean water project, water for over 4,000 people in India.

At the project end we concentrate on water quality, testing for both biological and chemical contamination. We believe that delivering access to water that isn’t clear of both, isn’t safe. We’re reimagining older technologies, such as UV strip lighting that’s both cheap and widely available and combine them in new ways with more modern techniques and approaches in order to tackle emerging water issues.

Charities are often accused of being unaccountable, to both funders and the people that they are supposed to be helping. There’s been a recent trend towards impact assessment which draws on scientific advances to measure the effect that charities are often having. However, these impact evaluations are often too costly for small charities. To get round this, we’re piloting devices which automatically generate information on how many people are using safe water, and how regularly. We use this real time data to report back to our funders, whilst village water committees access this information to inform their service.

We’re small, we stay true to our values and we don’t compromise integrity for growth. That’s not easy when we are surrounded by pressures to grow bigger.

The capitalist paradigm is that bigger is better, but it’s clearly not always true. Big watches small, then copies, or more commonly buys the small innovator, often to simply snuff them out.

All business needs finance to breathe. We bank with Triodos, an ethical bank, but FW has never borrowed money, borrowing money to take the next step in your innovation, on your own terms often shoots a small company straight into the world of big finance, with big corporate law and expectations of standard investors, short term and profit driven.

A well-timed, simple idea has a magnetism that attracts skilled volunteers, passionate staff and generous donors, which may need you don’t need to borrow, but with the growth in crowd and community funding there may be more suitable options for small business finance in the future.

Big can be good, but it’s rare and many small things combined can have a bigger impact. Small can also be deadly, like the microscopic bacteria and viruses we work so hard to eliminate from water sources – so shouldn’t be ignored.

In our discussions during Big Green Week and beyond, let’s not forget that climate change in all its forms, will inflict damage on every continent, but it will hit the world’s poor disproportionately hard.  We all have a part to play and through working together and reimagining we can all make a difference.


Tales from the road...A Rickshaw Runner tells it how it is

Upon signing up for the Rickshaw Run last autumn, I became aware of FRANK Water. Having volunteered with a water project in India on a previous trip, I recognized the need for clean water immediately. But what hit home for me, was FRANK Water was started by a Westerner, who had visited India and got sick due to the water. Finally, I thought someone from a well off country is really reconizing and acting on the need of clean water for all.

This got me thinking about all the countries I've travelled through and the numerous warnings of "don't drink the water" I've heard and read in travel guides.  It seems like every country outside of the G8 that I've been to, I've had to drink bottled water for fear that if I drink local water out of the tap I'll get sick. From there I got thinking about the amount of water the average North American uses in a day: bathing, laundry, cleaning the floors, gardening, you name it, every ounce of water that comes out of our taps is safe to drink. In general, we take clean water for granted. It's a given thing for us.
Before embarking on the Rickshaw Run I knew most of India didn't have access to clean drinking water. Forget bathing or laundry, just simple drinking water. While driving over 4000km throughout India it quickly became evident that what most locals drank was dirty water. Now, some may argue that the body becomes accustomed to dirty water, I agree, but that doesn't mean that its safe and disease free. Dirty water is dirty water, simply put. Not ideal for anyone. We all know, clean water saves lives.
As we journeyed up the Eastern coast of the sub continent and spoke with locals along the way, the response as to why we were partaking on such a random adventure (after they got over the fact that we were crazy for driving thousands of kilometres in a rickshaw) was a heartfelt reply of "thank you". "...Thank you for bringing awareness and raising funds for clean water projects in India". For me, these types of responses made it all worth it. Through FRANK Water I believe that not only setting up sustainable clean water projects, but educating those on the importance and the difference in life, clean water can bring is equally important.
I hope more travellers around the world, like Katie, step up and act on the essence of life: safe, clean drinking water for all.

Make some noise for FRANK Water

What is digital marketing? Sounds a bit like jargon doesn’t it? A few buzz words made up by some trendy media types. In fact, digital marketing is critical to small organisations with budgets to match. It’s fast, it’s free (for the most part), and it’s quickly becoming the best way to get the word out. Which is where we fit in. You’ll probably know by now that FRANK Water saves lives by funding clean water projects in developing countries. That means that we raise money to provide safe, clean drinking water to some of the poorest people in the world. There are 86 FRANK Water projects now – and we think that’s worth talking about. But as is the case with so many small charities and not-for-profit organisations, there are never enough hours in the day to fit everything in. What with raising funds, liaising with NGOs, studying new technologies, monitoring and evaluating our projects, reporting to our trustees, supporting our funders, editing our website, selling bottled water, hosting events, developing campaigns and making tea, there’s not much time left over for promoting ourselves and our work.

Which is where Noisy Little Monkey come in. This dynamic little organisation is offering local charities and not-for-profit organisations the opportunity to win £9000 of digital marketing help, advice and consultancy. For a small charity like FRANK Water, that’s a big deal. We need votes, tweets, facebook likes and more to win.

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and most of all VOTE FOR US to help us spread the word more widely.

Clean Water Saves Lives.

Thank you

Turn off the tap for World Water Day

To mark World Water Day, we've invited UK based bathroom company and FRANK Water supporters, Bathshop321 to fill us in on their annual Water Usage Survey that highlights how easy it is to take clean water for granted. And they tell us why they've chosen to support FRANK Water and Karma Korma this month. Access to clean water and sanitation is a right that everybody should be entitled to, yet there are still an estimated 894 million people that currently don’t have access to improved water sources.

The situation can seem daunting, but that shouldn’t put people off getting involved. Although providing permanent access to fresh water sources can be a significant task, there are ways and means which can help to make big differences.

World Water Day

World Water Day is a global awareness day that occurs annually on March 22nd, and is a great opportunity for people to support water campaigns.

Closer to home we can take water for granted, as it can be as easy as turning on a tap. In the US, there is approximately 1.25 trillion gallons of water wasted each year (via Environmental Protection Agency), and households in the UK are often wasting copious amounts too. During a water usage survey we carried out, we found that some people spend more than 20 minutes in the shower, which can lead to huge water wastage on a regular basis.

In countries with diminished water supplies, this kind of wastage is unfathomable.  Millions of women and children have to spend several hours per day walking to collect water from often polluted sources. For the people who need it most, access to clean water and sanitation is something that could be achieved, but it requires wider help and support. The theme for World Water Day 2013 is ‘Water Cooperation’, and through the cooperation between communities, countries, and individuals, fresh water could be made available to the people who need it most.

Karma Korma

One of the reasons we at Bathshop321 wanted to support FRANK Water this World Water Day is that they do things a little differently. Through the use of innovative technology, fresh water can be provided to areas and communities that need it most, without building water pumps or wells.

Karma Korma for World Water Day is a great example of a fundraising campaign which is fun and easy to get involved with, while also helping to make a huge difference.

Get involved this World Water Day by visiting: