Against a backdrop of global water challenges, young leaders are stepping up to make a difference with the Water Heroes Academy — a joint initiative by the UK’s Manchester city’s global community programme, Cityzens Giving, and global water technology partner, Xylem. Launched in 2021, the initiative empowers youth to tackle water challenges in their local communities by playing football to provide education on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
This year, five water projects led by young leaders in Bangalore, India; Barranquilla, Colombia; Nairobi, Kenya; Tacloban city, Philippines; and Washington, US. Earlier this month, Manchester city supporters were invited to vote for their favourite project, and with almost 18,000 votes cast, Nairobi was named the winning project for 2023.
Today, it is estimated that 70% of Nairobi population live in informal settlements, with only 20% of the population having access to piped water and sanitation. The Nairobi team project focused on educating young girls about using clean water for sanitation and hygiene during their period.
The young leaders from Nairobi will be visited by a Manchester city club legend and receive additional training from Manchester city coaches in the football and water education curriculum. Each of this year’s projects also received seed funding, educational tools, training and mentoring from Xylem and City Football Foundation, providing young leaders with the resources they need to create their own unique programmes.
Since 2021, the Water Heroes Academy has engaged more than 200 young leaders and delivered vital water and football related education to more than 12,000 young people in 10 cities.