Drinking Water in AfricaAround the world, there are billions of football (or soccer) fans who are passionate about their team and the sport. One football club, Hannover 96 in Germany, is using that passion to do good with the help of local volunteers. By way of the project “Drinking Cups for Drinking Water,” these football fans are improving access to drinking water in Africa and making a difference in some of the most impoverished regions in the world.

How the Project Works

Hannover 96 is a second-tier football club in the city of Hannover, Germany. On average, around 30,000 fans pour into the Hannover 96 stadium on home match days and with the help of the “Drinking Cups for Drinking Water” project, these football fans are able to help improve water access in Africa while supporting their team.

The project, which is run on matchdays by around a dozen volunteers, works by collecting the cup deposits of fans who buy drinks in the stadium. As is the case in many stadiums, Hannover 96 sells these drinks more expensively but offers some money back for returning the cups to the food stands. Alternatively, Hannover 96 fans can give their cups to volunteers stationed in stalls around the stadium as a donation to the “Drinking Cups for Drinking Water” project.

At the end of the match, all the collected cups are then returned to the food stalls by the volunteers and the collected deposit money is donated to the project’s partner organization, the Global Nature Fund. The Global Nature Fund, a German-based nonprofit, then uses the donated money to fund projects that provide more people with access to drinking water in Africa.

Project Success

Now going into its 15th year, “Drinking Cups for Drinking Water” has enabled football fans to make a real difference in a number of countries. Overall, the Global Nature Fund reports that the deposit donations have created better clean water access for 125,000 people in the Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa, Malawi and Kenya. This is the result of local projects led by the Global Nature Fund, improving and building wells. These initiatives to provide improved access to drinking water in Africa are significant as the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health reported that in 2020, more than 50% of people who lacked access to safe drinking water resided in Africa.

In Malawi, for example, funds from the charitable project enabled the creation of three clean water wells at local schools. Given that UNICEF estimates that more than 30% of Malawians do not have access to safe drinking water, improving access to water in the country is an immediate priority. The three wells provide clean water to around 10,000 schoolchildren as well as to households in the local area. To ensure the long-term success of its water access initiatives, the GNF also uses donations to educate local people on maintenance and engineering matters concerning the installations. By doing this, the organization ensures that the communities are able to repair and maintain their water access points while being self-reliant and independent from outside help. This guarantees that football fans are making a difference in the long term and provides work opportunities in the project regions.

Looking Ahead

“Drinking Cups for Drinking Water” looks poised to continue expanding its charitable work and bettering access to drinking water in Africa. In the last season, football fans raised nearly €70,000 for the initiative — a new season record. In the 23/24 season, the project is projected to surpass the donation mark of €500,000 to commemorate its 15th anniversary.

Apart from the increasing generosity of football fans, the project’s volunteers are also expanding the project’s reach by educating other football clubs on the idea, which could lead to more clubs getting involved. The success of “Drinking Cups for Drinking Water” shows that when united for a good cause, football fans are making a difference for people in need and have the power to drastically improve access to drinking water in Africa.

– Patrick Brownlow
Photo: Flickr