Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) 'Just A Drop' charity is the only global travel and tourism industry appeal to give children everywhere a right to life. From the grinding poverty of Cambodia to the dustbowl of Ethiopia it has been able to provide clean water to thousands of children and their families.

By Semeen Ghazi (contributor)

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Published: Fri 4 Jun 2004, 10:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:47 AM

The charity supports water, sanitation and health projects worldwide. It also assists in providing water purifying tablets, water containers and hygiene packs to the victims of disaster, such as in times of major floods and earthquakes.

RTE, which is part of Reed Exhibitions (RX) organises 13 events worldwide related to the travel and tourism industry including the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) held in Dubai every year, the World Tourism Market (WTM) - an annual event in London, the British Travel Trade Fair, Mediterranean Travel Fair, Top Resa, CIS Travel Market, International Luxury Travel Market and the International Golf Travel Market etc.

In this exclusive interview to City Times, Fiona Jeffrey - Group Exhibition Director of World Travel Market and founder of 'Just A Drop' charity talks about her project...

How and when was the idea of 'Just a Drop' charity conceived and bywhom?

I founded 'Just a Drop' more than six years ago on behalf of the international travel and tourism industry because there were a number of us that felt we wanted to give something back to the world. At that time I had become a mum for the second time with the birth of my daughter and I really wanted to try and help children who are less fortunate.

We started to investigate how best we could help children and was very moved by the plight of so many youngsters throughout the world, where clean water is still a luxury, not a right. For although we can survive a month without food, we can only survive for three days without water. It is the very essence of our lives.

We decided to raise desperately needed money that will offer these children the most precious gift on earth - a chance of a healthy life. The name 'Just a Drop' was chosen because we found that it costs surprisingly little to provide clean water to children. We wanted to make a real difference with a charity that was not spending vast sums on administration and I am proud to say that we are!

What has been the significant achievement of 'Just A Drop' charity. Can you name some of your major projects undertaken in different parts of the world?

Thousands of children and their families throughout the world have benefited from 'Just a Drop' since we launched the charity more than six years ago. For example we have helped sanitation and health education projects in Ethiopia, Cambodia, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland as well as help the victims of Hurricane Mitch in Central South America and a major earthquake in Turkey.

Our latest projects are helping two communities in Tanzania and India, suffering from a chronic lack of sanitation.

The projects were funded by money raised by the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism (IIPT), the Visit USA Committee, the Travel Trust Association and joint industry events, including a Thames side Family Fun Walk and a Captains of Industry Lunch at World Travel Market during 2003.

Working with the British Red Cross and the Scientific Exploration Society, the projects were agreed by 'Just a Drop's' trustees, chaired by explorer Col. Blashford Snell.

The IIPT, based in Vermont, United States has come to the rescue of the village of Ndundunyikanza in the Rufiji district of Tanzania with a "Vermont Well" through a fundraising campaign in Vermont with the assistance of Tony Clarke, Blueberry Hill Inn, Catherine DeLeo, Lyndon State College and Mentor of IIPT's Youth Network as well as Fredrick de Jong.

For the past ten years, since a former sanitation system broke down, the village has relied on a dirty stream, which regularly goes dry for up to six months of the year. The dire result has been regular outbreaks of cholera among the population of more than 3,000, particularly children - a direct result of lack of sanitation and polluted water.

The money raised by the IIPT has meant the construction of a completely new sanitation system, the provision of a 10,000-litre water tank and stand, the drilling of a borehole, the installation of a pump and generator and the building of a latrine.

The "Vermont Well" was announced as a living legacy of IIPT's 2nd African Conference held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in December 2003. The people in the village of Ndundunyikanz will no longer have to stand helplessly and watch their children die because of a lack of clean water."

Collecting clean water for the people of the Khasi tribe living in dense tropical forests in North East India, a ten hour trek from the nearest civilisation, meant a perilous climb down a steep ravine at the edge of the village. It meant that women and children were often injured in their daily mission to reach the water for bathing, drinking and cooking.

Now 'Just a Drop' funds have been used by the Scientific Exploration Society to provide piping and build a protected well for the village of 200.

The charity money is used for financing projects only in the African countries or other countries of the world as well? What is the criteria of choosing a country for undertaking projects there?

Because 'Just a Drop' is a charity for the international travel and tourism industry, we believe it is important that we benefit countries throughout the world, where ever we can usefully make a difference, in particular saving the lives of children who, sadly, often die before the age of five because of dirty water. Four million children die every year from diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera because the only water they have to drink and bathe in is dirty and polluted. 1.4 billion children have no access to clean water, near to their homes. Yet it can take a little over £1, Û1.55 or US$ 1.45 to provide a child with clean water for ten years.

We work with many large and small charities in the field and each case is considered on its merits by the independent Board of Trustees. Our only criteria is that the charity focus is every aspect of sanitation and clean water including health, education and training. There is particular emphasis on monitoring the projects to ensure the money is spent properly and efficiently.

'Just A Drop' is the only global travel and tourism industry appeal dedicated to providing clean water to thousands of children and their families? Are there any plans of expanding the appeal to other major events across the globe other than those organised by Reeds Travel Exhibitions?

Just a Drop will work in partnership with any organisation or event that believes it can contribute and make a difference to the work of Just a Drop. It is a global industry charity and wherever you go in the world there is a need for clean water. Often we hope to partner with organisations and then ensure that the money raised is then used in their own local markets. We are currently talking to a hotel group based in Tanzania and Kenya. If they embrace the initiative all the money raised will be put back into communities in Tanzania and Kenya. Just a Drop is the sort of charity where we want everyone who contributes to feel they're making a difference.

During the Arabian Travel Market 2004 in Dubai, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) had signed a deal with the Dubai-based French Bottled Water Company which will soon be launching Sante spring water in the Middle East region. How does the deal work?

Yes, we are delighted with this new partnership. We have teamed up with FBWC Marketing, which is bringing Sante bottled water to the Middle East and Indian sub-continent. Under the deal FWBC will donate 2.5 per cent of sales income from all bottles of Sante still and sparkling mineral water it sells across the region.

Sante was launched at the recent Arabian Travel Market (ATM) with samples of Sante to visitors and exhibitors. The company hopes to have regional sales of 250,000 a year.

Are there any other multi-national companies in Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East which have offered you sponsorships promoting your cause?

Not thus far but we are only beginning to make organisations aware of Just a Drop in the Middle East. However, the response from some Dubai hotels and an airline has been very good i.e Sofitel City Centre Hotel & Residence, Ritz Carlton, Dubai, Net Tours and Gulf Air.

We obviously hope with the introduction of Just a Drop to the region through Sante and Arabian Travel Market more and more companies will see and understand the value of Just a Drop and lend their support.

If you wish to obtain further information or wish to make a donation please contact Nikki Davis, Just a Drop Appeal, Oriel House, 26 The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1DL, England; telephone: +44 208 910 7981; fax: +44 208 334 0555; www.justadrop.org;

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