By Michelle Vergel de Dios
Aucklander Jo Perkins has been hitting the gym with the aim of raising funds to help build solar powered water systems in Ethiopia.
After the 2015-2016 El Nino weather system caused an ongoing continuing drought in the north-western region of Amhara, change in climate has impacted people's access to public shallow water points.
UNICEF has teamed up with Les Mills in a fundraising effort called Workout for Water to raise funds to extend the reach and sustainability of water systems it started to build in 2016.
“When I heard about what was happening and what the purpose of the cause was, I was like ‘wow, that’s pretty epic’, and wanted to be involved," Jo said.
Workout for Water encourages its participants to come up with their own unique challenges.
Jo has decided to do every single Les Mills class, film herself doing them and post the videos on her Facebook page to encourage her friends and family to donate to the cause.
“The difference that Workout for Water is going to mean for all these people in Ethiopia is that they’re going to have access to something which is life sustaining.
"They will be able to wake up every day, go and get a drink, wash their clothes, wash their dishes. Just do practical life every day.
"I think it’s something we don’t think about, because we just walk over a few metres to a tap to get a drink, but it is something that these people need to think about so much that they spend hours and hours every day just to get it. It’s so beyond what we know here in New Zealand."
Over 1.5 million people in Ethiopia are affected by the weather phenomenon, forcing children and women to spend most of their days collecting water from far-flung areas.
The quantity of the water they draw is inadequate and its safety is unsatisfactory, with the risk of contracting water-borne diseases occurring high, UNICEF said.
Andre Whittaker, director of child rights at UNICEF NZ, said one of the biggest challenges in terms of fundraising, is being able to resonate with potential donors in New Zealand.
“It’s not just about not having water for your body. It’s about the knock-on effects of kids that are not going to school. It’s about the knock-on effects of how health services are impacted by not having water.”
All of the funds raised through the campaign will go towards the project that aims to bring fresh, clean and safe water to nearly 50,000 people experiencing severe water deficiency in East Africa.