‘We can no longer be passive’ was the call from Chevening Scholar Yahoska Berrios on World Water Day 2016. The Nicaraguan scholar fronts a video aimed at the Chevening community which calls for greater efforts to help improve access to water for rural communities, given that the lack of water has a disproportionately negative effect on women and children.

Three Chevening Scholars met in mid-March to record a simple video in Bloomsbury, London, in which a male scholar, Yurika, had to race against a female scholar, Alejandra. Across the world, women spend 200 million hours per day just collecting water, whilst men are able to spend that time earning a living or receiving education. To reflect the disadvantages that women endure, Alejandra had to race against Yurika whilst encumbered by two large bottles of water.

‘You could see my opponent was struggling behind with two bottles of water whilst I ran freely,’ noted Yurika Raymond, a scholar from Cameroon who is studying Global Health and Development at UCL. ‘This shows the kind of unfairness that we have concerning water in most developing countries, where we find girls walking for long distances to fetch water. Sometimes they stay out of school and don’t get educated because they are the ones who go [to collect] water’.

Alejandra González, who is studying Sustainable Planning at the University of Hertfordshire, confessed that shooting the video whilst running around with two five litre bottles of water was ‘really difficult’.

‘I think I realised how tough it is in many countries – this also happens in my country [Mexico]. Water services are so important to get to all the people of the world,’ she said.

The project was led by Yahoska Berrios, who had previously worked in Nicaragua with Raleigh International and has retained a passion for improving the livelihoods of people: ‘My experience as a team leader in a water and sanitation project in rural Nicaragua – which included having to carry water for more than a kilometre every day to drink, cook and wash – affirmed my passion to make a difference.’

Yahoska was awarded a Chevening Scholarship for 2015/2016 and is now completing a Master’s in Globalisation and Latin American Development at UCL ‘This experience has made me aware that the water crisis is a global problem that cannot be solved in isolation. It is necessary to create awareness of the role that each of us have in finding sustainable solutions for this crisis.’

She concluded by stating that the global community needs to engage in finding solutions now: ‘We can no longer be passive.’

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