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Water, Weans and Wildlife

The purpose of Tip Toe is to raise awareness, identify and promote solutions to three core related themes. These are:


  • Water;

  • Weans (Scottish slang for child); and,

  • Wildlife

Why Water


Water is the foundation of life. As earth’s population grows and the planet warms, access to fresh drinkable water is becoming increasingly challenging. In some cases nations may be drawn to war to secure supply. 


Fishing. Modern commercial fishing techniques are stripping the oceans and rivers of fish stocks and depriving indigenous communities of livelihoods and a local sustainable food source. Anadromous fish (like Salmon) grow up mostly in the saltwater in oceans. When they have matured they migrate or "run up" freshwater rivers to spawn in what is called the salmon run. ... Rivers need to be clean and well-connected for salmon to thrive, and if they are not, the local population will be lost. 


Plastic. Is extremely durable and very detrimental to the environment. 12 million metric tons of plastic finds its way into the ocean each year. This plastic pollution breaks down into microplastics that find their way into fish stomachs and bird nests, accumulating in the marine food chain. It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. 

Community health. Lack of access for communities to clean water and proper sanitation affects lives; including disease, healthy development and may lead to untimely death. These health risks severely impact a person’s educational attainment and lifetime earnings resulting in loss of both economic and human potential for a country’s development. Health, nutrition and education can be significantly improved with the provision of proper water and sanitation services. 


Why ‘Weans’?

Health and Prosperity. Access to water and sanitation facilities is not only about health and reducing disease, it is central to ensuring the attendance of girls in schools. Without gender segregated toilets, girls do not have the privacy needed making them very vulnerable to abuse; many parents would not allow daughters to go to schools where they share facilities with boys. Gender segregated toilets combined with access for the handicapped promotes inclusive development and boosts educational development, health and social status of the children, particularly girls and those with disabilities.


Education. Children are our future. The benefits of education are well known and include, poverty reduction, economic growth, better equality and health. It discourages crime, gender based violence and can reduce child marriage. Environmental benefits protect ecosystems and create improvements to agriculture productivity and food security. 


Why Wildlife?

Conservation. When we conserve and protect the natural habitat of wildlife species, we enrich our planet. To do so, we must keep the animals in their natural place. There are a lot of wonders in the world and among them are wildlife species, such as bears, mountain goats, wolves, deer and Africa’s ‘Big Five’. Most people think that there is an abundance of wildlife species in the world, but the truth is, their numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate and if nothing is done about it, these species might become endangered and extinct. Animals become endangered all the time and people are not aware about it. Poaching continues to have a catastrophic effect on wildlife in Africa and is fast driving some species to extinction.  


Preservation. Thankfully, more and more preservation programs have been established to ensure that these animals are protected. These programs motivate and increase the awareness of the public regarding the proper management of natural resources. There are now wildlife preservation programs that allow the animals to roam freely in their natural habitat. Some of these programs also allow the animals to interact with humans. This educates people and raises awareness regarding of the importance of protecting these wildlife species.


Changing indifferent attitudes. Huge sums of money have (and are) been donated to develop and improve wildlife policing and anti poaching strategies; this is great but it is just not sustainable. Ultimately it is the local communities that can and will make the real difference. Historically the priorities of these communities have been driven by years of poverty and struggling to secure the basic fundamentals of life including water, shelter, health and food security. Unless these deeply entrenched behaviours and indifferent attitudes change, communities will not value and protect wildlife or their local ecosystems. 


Linking community livelihood to wildlife. Creating understandable, visible links between the health and livelihood of communities and wildlife is vital. It can be done but is a long hard path to tread. It requires cultural sensitivity, empowerment of community leadership and the collaboration of all the key stakeholders. To date this approach has largely been ignored as the work does not typically generate the quick returns or photographic opportunities required to demonstrate success and attract donors. This work is not ‘sexy’, but it is essential. 


Security benefits. There are security benefits too, for it is within some of these impoverished communities that the seeds of radicalisation can grow. Local tensions can be reduced, regions and countries can become more stable. 


Thus to address the route causes of wildlife protection and conservation, communities must have access to life’s essentials. Educating the children drives new opportunities and livelihoods; it is an investment in the future community health and prosperity.


The themes of Water, Weans and Wildlife in their broadest sense are therefore truly entwined. 

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