AQUABOX literally began over a cup of coffee!
For several years up to 1990 the Rotary Club of Wirksworth had been filling and despatching Emergency Boxes under the RIBI banner. These were simple flat pack plywood boxes filled and ready to send to disaster areas.
At some time in 1990 a member of the Wirksworth Club asked the question "Why use a wooden box?"; It is not big enough to be useful for storage and the plywood does not even make a good fire. Why not have a strong plastic box that could be used afterwards for storage or as a table, seat etc. Another member of the group involved in the water purification industry added that with a hole in the side, a tap and purification system, it could be used for drinking water from polluted water. The idea of the AQUABOX was born.
During 1990, following this discussion, Peter Hare suggested the idea to the Club. He contemplated the possibility of having the idea accepted by the Rotary District 1220 as an approved project, and, maybe, it might even be approved by RIBI. He suggested that we should probably be able to launch the project and get sponsorship from other Rotary Clubs in our District and also, hopefully, from around the UK. He guesstimated that, in the first year, we might process between 800 and 900 boxes and by the second and third year up to 1500 boxes a year and possibly plateau out at about 2,000 per year subsequently. The club members gave approval for a full brief to be prepared. Figures were eventually put to the members. Filters were off the shelf items as were water purification tablets.
However, the box itself, to be of similar size to the EMERGENCY BOX, was not readily available. The only suitable box required an order of 3000 at a cost of £30,000. This represented a substantial commitment even with generous credit terms. The decision was made to go ahead and support was sought from District and hence support from all Rotary Clubs in the UK under the RIBI banner, whilst the members of the Rotary Club of Wirksworth agreed to underwrite any shortfall.
A Charitable Trust was formed in order to allow VAT to be reclaimed and it was named after Barrie Griffiths who died in 1991 just before he was due to take up office as our District Governor.
AQUABOX was eventually launched in October 1992 by His Grace the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House. Despite the initial hesitant co-operation of the Emergency Box organisation there is now full co-operation with both the Emergency Box and the Shelter Box projects. In cases of natural disasters, such as in Mozambique in 2000 and India in 2001, all three projects have cooperated in arranging transportation facilities on a joint basis.
Details of the project were sent out to all Rotary Clubs in the UK by way of a well produced, but simple, black and white 4-page brochure. A commercial warehouse was commissioned to receive filled boxes, on our behalf, and to hold them ready for despatch. During the year 1993/4 some 1000 boxes were sponsored and our initial order of 3,000 boxes was being well taken up. These initial boxes were not quite as satisfactory as we had hoped because they were not sufficiently strong and some had been found to fracture. It was decided that a stronger box was needed. Also, being completely rectangular, these initial boxes were space consuming when empty. A stronger box, of tapered shape, to provide for nesting when empty, was designed and ordered. A satisfactory bid was obtained from Schaefer and orders were placed. The new style boxes have continued to satisfy our needs since that time.
By 1995/6 donations had reached about £48,000 and a few sponsorships had been received for £300 for AQUA30's. Our club members fill these exclusively with water filters and tablets to provide 33,000 litres of purified water each box. Unlike Emergency Box, which is stored for distribution at the time of a disaster, the water purification tablets and filters have a 5 year limited shelf life Consequently, in addition to being sent to areas of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods etc., they are also sent to areas of continuing need, via reputable Aid Agencies who have monitors on the ground to receive and properly distribute the boxes and assure full utilisation. We are aware of one Roman Catholic Hospital at Mvumi in Tanzania where 3 boxes have continued in use for several years with supplies of filters and tablets being sent to them from time to time.
In 1995 the Children's Aid Direct (CAD) agency in Reading took delivery of several hundred boxes. These were sent to many countries in war torn Europe, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and later, Serbia and Kosovo. A call was received via a Rotary member to send boxes to St Lucia following a devastating hurricane. At this time the CAD questioned whether it might be possible to arrange for several hundreds of boxes to go to North Korea, which was now becoming accessible to Aid Agencies. Permission was given for them to franchise boxes on their own account and over 1,000 boxes were sent to North Korea by Children's Aid. These boxes are not included in our totals of boxes as we were not involved in any way with the financing of them.
As the project became more well known throughout Rotary sponsorship increased and by 1996/7 the total income was £60,524. In the year 1997/8 the flow of donations had remained steady, showing a slight rise to £62,552.
Enormous growth during 1998/9 was as a direct result of the 'Hurricane Mitch' initiative. By the end of the year total donations had increased to £426,687! Over 1000 boxes, including many AQUA30's, capable of purifying over 22 million litres of water, were shipped from the UK in less than 3 months thanks to over £237,000 raised within RIBI. (See below)
Since the early launch years, AQUABOX has grown and by the millennium over 20,000 boxes had been provided to over 30 countries. It has become a significant 'business' in its own right with a dedicated distribution centre. By the end of the year 2001 over 31,000 boxes had been despatched.
Though the project remains a stand-alone operation administered by the Directors and Members of Aquabox Ltd., all of who MUST be Members of the Rotary Club of Wirksworth, there is active support from Rotary clubs throughout Great Britain and Ireland, also from Inner Wheel Clubs, Churches, Schools, Youth Organisations and private individuals.
From the inception of the project a roster of at least 4 members of the Rotary Club have processed the orders for despatch every Saturday morning from the old stables at Shottle Hall Farm where one of our members owned a guesthouse. This facility was most appreciated as it gave a good place for storage and preparation for despatch of the boxes, in the numbers managed at that time, and the terms of occupation were most generous! The terms of the lease required an annual payment of £1 per annum if demanded. It was never demanded! These premises were used continuously until November 2000 by which time it would have been helpful if the walls had been elastic! The quantity of take up of sponsorship had meant that newly arriving boxes usually had to be stored outside with the result that many would be full of water by the time we had to prepare them for despatch.
Initially the orders had been processed each week on a low capacity computer and despatch labels and box numbers were printed. Receipts were manually prepared and despatched by the wife of one of our members.
A mock up demonstration working model illustrating the flow from polluted to clean water was produced and was on display at the Wirksworth Well Dressing in 1997 and 1998. A member of a Rotary Club in another District arranged to borrow this equipment for their District Assembly in 1998. He said that he would be happy to help in any way, especially in the computer field. We said, "Thanks, but no thanks," as our small computer program was sufficient for our needs - at the time!
When the project started in 1992 arrangements were made for boxes to be sent to sponsors via Parcel Force at a cost of around £2 per box. Return, also at about £2 per box, was via Group 4 Night Speed to a warehouse, initially in Nottingham and later Tamworth. The problem was that Group 4 had a very limited number of depots, especially in the far north and southwest, so that sponsors had a long haul to get their boxes back. Group 4 soon decided that £2 per box was uneconomic and advised a large increase. Universal Carriers now agreed at around £4 per box to undertake the collection from sponsors and return to Tamworth. This was ideal as sponsors simply had to await the collection from their home etc. This did not last for long. It was far too onerous for the carriers and an increase to £10 per box was required.
Our original costing of £35 per box had well covered our costs of all materials, warehousing and handling and movements of boxes but there was no way these proposed transport increases could be absorbed. Negotiations took place with Parcel Force to collect boxes from our depot in bulk to go to sponsors or fillers and to return the boxes under a pre paid label via any Post Office to Tamworth.
The agreed costs were around £5 per package each way, (i.e. £10 per box out and in). As a result of these transportation cost changes, it was decided, in September 1998, to increase the requested donation for a standard box from £35 to £40 All boxes were collected by ParcelForce from Shottle Hall but filled boxes were returned via any Post Office. One frequent problem was that many Post Offices suffer from inadequate parking, are often sited on roads with double yellow lines, and taking a heavy box to them was often difficult.
In October 1998 a tremendous hurricane struck Central America, and Honduras and Belize in particular. The RIBI President Neil Hill, through our District Governor Keith Hammond and District International Chairman John Hall, asked if the AQUABOX project could help in any way, especially if he put out a nationwide Rotary appeal for sponsorship. Little did we appreciate what was to be the consequence of responding in the affirmative! Over a period of 3 weeks donations in excess of £237,000 were received. The requests to our suppliers for considerably increased numbers of boxes, tablets, filters and other items such as plastic bags etc were met with some disbelief. Our orders for 2 weeks exceeded our normal orders for a whole year. There was probably some concern as to whether we would have funds to meet these large orders! It took 3 months to gear up to the quantities required.
Over the period of November 1998 to March 1999 nearly 1,000 boxes were sent via the Methodist Missionary Society, who refused to receive any financial help towards transportation costs, to Honduras. The President of the Jamaican Methodist Conference took charge of the receiving and monitoring of all the boxes sent. The water purification quantities provided at this time would have been sufficient to provide the equivalent of all the inhabitants of, say, Nottingham, with 10 cups of water a day for a month.
As a result of the large increase in orders of boxes, filters and tablets there were large reductions in unit costs of all items. Our increase from £35 to £40 previously referred to was no longer required. However, rather than have 'egg on face' by reducing the cost back to £35 we decided to include 4 survival bags in each box. Many 'Fillers' had felt these items were expensive to provide and were leaving them out of their boxes. Retail cost of survival bags was about £1.80 whereas we could get them wholesale for £1.20 each, and we could recover the VAT! Our suppliers had never sold so many during the winter months! We now have survival bags mass-produced specifically for the AQUABOX with the Rotary Emblem and suggestions for use printed in 5 languages. We were also able to reduce the cost of the AQUA30's from £300 to £250.
One result of all these donations and orders for boxes was that our computer facility proved to be totally inadequate. Consequently all orders, preparation of receipts, and destination labels had to be written by hand. 'The Lord moves in a mysterious way'. Just at this time letters were received from a mission in Ghana, where several Aquaboxes had been sent during 1998 via the Handsworth International Mission Services in Sheffield. These were letters of thanks for the goods and especially for the water purification facility. There was a request for back up supplies of filters and tablets.
Box numbers were identified against several sponsors and, in particular, thanks were expressed to a computer firm for their box. The computer firm was advised where their box had been sent to, even the village was identified. The proprietor responded by asking if he could help us. He was the same person who had offered help in the previous May! ''Yes please'' was the response. A sophisticated computer programme was written and it now enables us to readily track the movement of boxes, from initial despatch to sponsors/fillers, for filling, and their return and onward despatch overseas. This same computer firm continues to process our orders, which are sent, by first class post every Thursday, a copy being kept for our records. The processed orders, with full details and despatch label addresses, are returned to us by email the following Wednesday with box numbers allocated ready for the boxes to be despatched on the following Saturday. Thus there is a 10-day turn round of orders from each Wednesday first post received. Every Saturday morning, without fail, holiday periods included, at least 4 members of the Club prepare and despatch all orders received 10 days previously. Many weeks up to a third of the Club members will attend for this activity.
The inevitable problems now arose however of dealing with such a vast increase in sponsorship. Over the previous few years, with only a few boxes a week to process, our computer had coped. Tablets had been supplied in small pots of 200 per pot. A few club members and their friends and acquaintances in their homes, round the table, packed these over a glass of wine! The tablet suppliers, Hydrachem, took a real interest in this rapidly increasing project and, in consultation with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, designed a bespoke single tablet of sufficient strength to deal with very heavily polluted water of the quantity in a full AQUABOX. Up to this time the tablets had been "off the shelf'' with 4 small tablets, presumed to be of acceptable strength, being provided, to be dropped into each fill of water. As mentioned above, bespoke tablets were now ordered in large 25kg buckets of approx 3,000 tablets per bucket. Church members and, later, members of the general public in Matlock and Wirksworth were asked to help in the packing of these tablets. Several Rotary Clubs in the District 1220 also took buckets of tablets to pack.
It was recognised that each filter should be capable of being reused for up to 14 times the fill of the AQUABOX. Consequently it was necessary to provide a sealed pack of 14 packs (one double pack for each fill of the box with water) for every filter supplied. To just put 14 tablets in a bag with each filter could well result in someone dropping the lot in or, perhaps 2 or 3 for each fill for good measure, and so either waste the tablets, or worse, poison themselves! The tablets are now received pre-sealed and packs of 14 double packs (2 tablets are now required for each fill of a box with polluted water) continue to be prepared by church and community members at the Wirksworth Baptist and Matlock Methodist and United Reformed Churches on Monday and Wednesday mornings respectively. The Rotary Club members are the catalyst for this project but would find great difficulty in maintaining the present momentum without this community assistance.
BOX 1000 and BOX 10,000
Way back in late 1993 box 1,000 had been supplied to the Rotary Club of Dublin and representatives of that Club were invited to receive their box from the Duke of Devonshire at a service at St Mary's Church Wirksworth.
By September 1998 it was realised that box 10,000 would soon be sponsored and arrangements were put in hand for the Duke again to be involved in about May 1999. Nemesis overtook all preparations. The vast take up following the Honduras appeal meant that box 10,000 was sponsored in late November 1998 rather than, as had been anticipated, about May 1999. No one knew in advance who the sponsor would be. In the event it was a cub-scout pack from Blackpool. The leader was advised that they would receive their box to fill and then, if they could bring the box back and if cubs and parents would come over to Chatsworth House in February 1999, the Duke would formally receive it back from them. They were thrilled.
MORE DISASTERS - THE PROJECT GROWS.
During the year 1999/2000, donations flowed in and filled boxes flowed out. A devastating earthquake shook Turkey. With the help of members of the Rotary Club of Twickenham on Thames, where some of their members were Turks and were involved with Turkish Airlines, many hundreds of boxes, both welfare and AQUA30's, were flown to Turkey, courtesy of Turkish Airlines and monitored by Rotarians there. In early 2000 there were terrible floods in Venezuela and Mozambique. The Methodist Missionary Society (MMS) sent containers with Aquaboxes and other aid by sea. We were able to send large numbers of boxes courtesy British, Virgin and Zimbabwe Airlines to be monitored by Rotary in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. We paid the cost of transportation to get the boxes to the port or airport of departure. For Mozambique contact and co-operation was made with the Emergency Box project and a mix of boxes went out both by air and by sea. It is of interest to hear that boxes sent by the MMS in Ireland by sea arrived at Maputo before many of the boxes sent by air to Johannesburg and Harare because of the lack of road facilities in Mozambique resulting from the floods.
Over the period of 1998/9 the AQUABOX continued to become more widely known and more Inner Wheel Clubs as well as many church organisations began to take up sponsorships. Scouts, Guides, Trefoil Guilds, Women's Institutes, schools as well as private individuals also either sponsor boxes to fill themselves or sponsor boxes to be filled by others. Many clubs, individuals and other organisations prefer to sponsor boxes but not fill them whilst at the same time there are many organisations unable to find the funds to sponsor but are willing and able to fill them. A large number of boxes have been filled in this way with sponsors making their donations and we send the boxes for filling to those who do not have funds but can fill the boxes.
By June 2000 the year's income was £528,843 and during the year over 7,000 boxes were sent overseas.
During all these past years the several Aid Agencies receiving and monitoring boxes have been:
CHILDREN'S AID DIRECT, in Reading (who no longer can do their work because they have lost their warehouse premises); they were responsible for sending many hundreds of boxes to Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Liberia. One response from Liberia was: 'This is the best form of portable aid we have ever had, even a child can carry it, from ward to ward or classroom to classroom, when the box is empty''.
HANDSWORTH INTERNATIONAL MISSION SERVICES in Sheffield, who have sent many hundreds of boxes to Sierra Leone and, Ghana.
CHRISTIAN AFRICAN RELIEF TRUST at Huddersfield who have sent several hundreds of boxes to Malawi, Ghana, Cameroon, Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia etc.
FEED THE CHILDREN at Reading,' who have sent many hundreds of boxes to Kosovo, Croatia, Mozambique, El Salvador, Liberia and many other places.
Quoting from a letter from the Director of Programmes for Feed the Children: During an outbreak of cholera in Albania, I was speaking to our procurement officer at Feed the Children and asked if there was anything he could contribute to ease the situation. He mentioned the AQUABOX, which at that time I had not heard of, and duly despatched around 50 boxes. These were soon in use and proved very effective in reducing the problem of the water supply. The week that they arrived in Albania I was asked to attend a meeting at the EU delegation where the head of ECHO was visiting. At the meeting there were representatives from three other major agencies all of whom were directly or indirectly involved in healthcare. The first question asked by the ECHO representative was what we had done to help with the recent outbreak of cholera; this question was naturally directed at the health agencies. The answer from the three was an embarrassing, 'nothing', though they all had plans! When the same question was asked of Feed the Children I was able to explain, much to the annoyance of others, about the AQUABOX. The outcome of this was that a few days later I received a phone call from Brussels requesting us to apply for funding from ECHO.
The project, we were told, would be funded and should be for not more than three million ECU.
Considerable funds have been received regularly from the Rotary Club of Dublin with large donations coming from the Roman Catholic Cathedral there. Many boxes have been sponsored in this way and have been taken for filling by 'THE METHODIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY CONTAINER WAREHOUSE' project in Lurgan Northern Ireland. They have had thousands of boxes, both to fill and to despatch overseas, to virtually all the disaster areas since our project started. In this respect it is good to be able to say that their co-ordinator, Mr William (Bill) Carson has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his commitment to helping others over many years. The Paul Harris Award is the highest award a Rotary Club can give to anyone.
ALL CARE RELIEF CHARITY based in London became involved in taking aid to Northern Uganda where there had been an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus and cholera.
NOTTINGHAM POLICE AID CONVOYS, introduced by the Rotary Club of Hucknall have sent several hundred boxes overland to areas of Eastern Europe.
CONTAINERS OF HOPE (an Anglican aid agency) have taken one consignment of boxes for Central Africa and other boxes are offered to them as required.
HOPE/AID (Cardiff Rotary agency) took their first consignment during September 2003.
There have been several other small organisations that have been able to receive and monitor boxes in areas of need.
CHANGE OF PREMISES
With the considerable growth of the project it became extremely difficult to continue operating from the Shottle Hall stables. Boxes had to be prepared for despatch out in the farmyard in summer and winter. In times of snow and rain it was becoming almost impossible, even though we did always have a supply of coffee from Phillip Matthews at the Guest House!
We also had doubts about the quality of some of the items in some of the boxes being returned to us, as we never saw the boxes returned by 'Fillers' as they were received and despatched from the Tamworth commercial warehouse. There was no Club involvement at all at this stage other than arranging the allocation to Aid Agencies and authorising release. For some years one of the Tamworth staff had taken a particular interest in the project and, if a box came into their possession feeling very light, she would send it back to us. She left the firm in February 2000. No such boxes came back after February.
In March 2000, a call was received from a Rotaract President enquiring the whereabouts of a box he had ordered. Parcel Force advised that it had been signed for on delivery. It appeared that it had gone, as requested on the order form, to the business address of this fellow's father, who was a Rotarian. There was an obvious lack of family communication because the father had opened the box, not appreciated that it was for his son, although his son's name was on the lid. He put in a cheque for £25 in favour of the Barrie Griffiths Rotary Trust and sent it on it's way to Tamworth. The box went, not filled, but including the cheque, to Mozambique!
This made us decide that the time had come for us to have complete control of all boxes, both in sending for filling, checking them on return and in finally sending them overseas.
In November 2000 we took a lease on a bay of a modern warehouse building, at Cromford near Wirksworth. All orders are now despatched from these premises every Saturday morning with an excellent contact being maintained with Parcel Force. All returned boxes come back to a private warehouse for holding, in Wirksworth, and on similar terms as Tamworth, EXCEPT THAT ALL BOXES ARE NOW CHECKED UPON RECEIPT to ensure that they have been correctly packed.
Experience is showing that several of the packers have not put their goods in the large plastic liner provided to give protection if the boxes get wet! Also any goods, which are found to be dirty and torn and not worthy of despatch, are disposed of. The attitude we ask fillers to adopt is; "would you be insulted if any item you are putting in the box was given to you". A few boxes are returned with lots of fresh air inside! These we complete with more goods so that the cost of overseas transportation is justified. We do ask that boxes are filled to capacity but not overfilled. Anyone who is interested is invited to visit our premises, by arrangement, on Tuesday or Saturday mornings. These are our 'working' days. Anyone visiting will almost certainly be given a job to do!
2001 - EL SALVADOR and INDIA
At the end of January 2001 there were 2 severe earthquakes, one in El Salvador and one in Gujarat India. For El Salvador there were severe logistical problem. No UK airlines fly direct to El Salvador from the UK so there was no opportunity to 'Twist Arms' and get free air transportation there as had been possible for Mozambique and Turkey previously. Emails were exchanged with Rotarians in El Salvador, RI Headquarters in Evanston, Chicago, and Rotary Clubs on the west coast of America. We were advised that they would cope with sending assistance to the devastated area. Whilst these exchanges were taking place the quake in Gujarat in India occurred on the Sunday 28th January. The next morning, Monday 29th, the Mayor of Derby, who is a Gujarati, made an appeal on Radio Derby.
The AQUABOX chairman called the Mayor's office at 9.00am to offer Aquaboxes if the mayor could 'open the door' for air transportation. The Indian High Commissioner made available, on behalf of the Mayor's appeal, the facility of free transportation by courtesy of 'space available' by Air India. As a result of this it was possible to send 960 Aquaboxes, many of them AQUA30's, by air whilst we despatched a further 520 to go by sea via the Christian African Relief trust. The Methodist Missionary Society also sent a consignment of aid including 158 Aquaboxes. It was also possible to arrange, as part of the Mayor's appeal, all the available Shelter boxes, (45 we believe) and about 300 Emergency boxes, which was all their stock. This we look upon as a great step forward in co-operation between the 3 Rotary Aid projects.
We had not anticipated sending any boxes to El Salvador, see above, as the result of Rotary contacts in America but, 3 weeks after the earthquake, we received an urgent appeal from 'Feed the Children' who said that their monitor in El Salvador had asked for Aquaboxes, such as they had used in Albania, because they were so simple and easy to use and did not require any mechanical assistance or technical approach in use. 500 boxes, many of them AQUA30's were sent there during March 2001.
As a result of our ability to accumulate some financial reserves over the period of operation it was possible for our response to the Indian disaster to be immediate. We effectively raided our reserves and sent over 500 AQUA30's, at £250 per box, without having to wait for funds to come in, as had been the case in the past. So, as donations have been received, we have been able to keep up the supplies of Aquaboxes being sent out and, as and when the demand slows down, we can build up reserves for future disasters.
During March 400 boxes were sent via Nottingham Aid for Kosovo. The Shelter Box project arranged for a 40ft container, which was filled with 100 Shelter boxes, 100 Emergency boxes, 50 AQUA30's and 390 Standard Aquaboxes to go to India.
THE AQUABOX OVERSEAS
During a visit to the UK in 1999 an Australian Rotarian heard of, and became interested in, the AQUABOX project. Consequently the Rotary Club of Eltham in the State of Victoria has initiated a parallel project using, initially, the Wirksworth boxes, filters and tablets. Their first boxes were sent to Nepal. In 2003 they have been able to ship a container of boxes for use in Iraq.
The Rotary Club in the Cayman Islands have recently taken delivery of 26 boxes initially to start a similar project from their small island. This we feel is most commendable considering their tiny population.
CANADA / USA
It is understood that a Rotary Club or District in Arizona have commenced a similar project and we are hopeful that a club in Canada may follow suit.
Well ahead of any projections, made over 9 years ago, we arrived at the sponsorship of box 25,000.
Since inception His Grace the Duke of Devonshire has shown great interest in the project and we are now pleased to say that he agreed to accept our invitation to be our Honorary Patron.
Considering that the despatch of box 25,000 is a milestone worthy of recognition we invited the then RIBI President, Rotarian Norman Proctor to formally present that box to the sponsor at an ecumenical service of Celebration and Thanksgiving at St Mary's Church, Wirksworth on Sunday May 27th, the Wirksworth Well Dressing weekend. The sponsor was, in fact, the Ireland District of Rotary and the Methodist Missionary Society will fill the box. An open invitation was given to all who had been involved in the project since it's inception eight and a half years before.
Our thanks were expressed to all those who had been involved in initiating, setting up, and managing the project. Thanks were given to all those Rotarians, members of Inner Wheel Clubs, Churches and church groups, Cubs, Scouts, Guides, Trefoil Guilds, Women's Institutes, private individuals, (the list is almost endless), who have sponsored and filled boxes. Thanks were also given to our Tablet Packers, our suppliers, and especially our Computer Buffs, without any of whom we could not have got this far.
THE PROJECT AFTER BOX 25,000
Experience has demonstrated that sponsorship rises very significantly at the time of any great and devastating disaster whilst at other times there is a smaller but significant continuing sponsorship from several Rotary Clubs, Churches and individuals who have made the provision of CLEAN water one of their priorities and we are grateful for their commitment in this way. Many Rotary Clubs sponsor and fill many Aquaboxes each year. A few sponsor none; many churches have used the project as their Harvest Festival focus and several youth organisations have found inspiration as they have 'done their bit' with a 'hands on' effort of filling a box or boxes and having the satisfaction of knowing where their box has been used.
Every opportunity has been made to stabilise our costs. It is interesting to note that, in 2003, although our purification tablets now arrive in sealed packs the cost per dose is about 80% of the cost when we started in 1992; this is of course as a result of the considerably larger quantities now required.
The effective cost, at £250 for an AQUA30, producing 33,000 litres of purified water is less that one penny per litre. Bottled water purchased in our supermarkets costs over ten pence per litre.
THE CONTINUING NEED
There is a continuing need in many parts of the world for assistance in purifying water. For centuries raw surface and well water has been used, which is polluted from many causes, natural and otherwise; the life span of many in the world is short as a result of water-borne diseases. Aquaboxes have been found to provide the 'First Aid' in dealing with this problem and they have, in consequence, become increasingly welcomed in many parts of Africa and Asia. Conscious of this ongoing need we have taken the opportunity to use any income from invested funds to assist Water Aid in providing long term solutions by the provision of permanent bore-holes. In this respect we were able to give a donation in 2001/2 to provide 3 bore-holes at Salima in Malawi; Aquaboxes are no longer needed there. During the year 2002/3 a further donation has been made to similarly make the AQUABOX redundant in a province in Ethiopia.
No doubt, for many years to come, AQUABOX 'First Aid' will continue to be required for these ongoing needs and, at the same time, we will continue to be ready to give immediate assistance in times of specific natural disasters.
As a complementary Rotary Project during the years 2000 and onwards the Rotary Shelter Box has grown to become a well managed and much sought after aid facility. The inevitable result of their success has been the siphoning away of some of our Rotary Sponsorship. It is, nevertheless, good to know that, at times of disaster, the AQUABOX and Shelter Box Projects are in a position to jointly give much needed aid.
Approximately 64% of sponsorships are made by Rotary Clubs, the remaining 36% comes from Churches and Church groups, Inner Wheel, Women's Institutes, Youth Organisations and private individuals.
THINK OF THOSE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, SHOCKED AND DISORIENTATED, PERHAPS COLD, PERHAPS GRIEVING, WHO WILL AT LEAST HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DRINK CLEAN, SAFE WATER FROM THE AQUABOXES WHICH YOU HAVE PROVIDED.