Carolin Stüdemann interviewed for Viva con Agua: Water is life

Viva con Agua – The association Viva con Agua de Sankt Pauli e.V. promotes clean drinking water and basic sanitation with thousands of supporters registered on the online platform POOL (organized as so-called crews in many cities) with a focus on the Global South. Viva con Agua de Sankt Pauli e.V. is a non-profit association founded in 2006 that aims to provide access to clean drinking water for all people according to the motto “Water for all, all for water”.

According to the motto “Water for all, all for water”.

In this interview, we spoke with the managing director of Viva con Agua Carolin Stüdemann. We rewound time and asked how the idea behind Viva con Agua came about. Spoiler: Soccer plays a significant role here. Carolin also gives us a little insight into the various projects and what successes they have already celebrated. Maybe you have already heard about World Water Day. It takes place once a year, and we asked how important this day is. We also talked about the current Corona pandemic and its impact on Viva con Aguas projects. Sometimes there are positive impacts as well as negative ones. How you can support the aid organization, besides donating, and much more, you can find out here in this interview!

The role of the St. Pauli neighborhood in Hamburg

FIV: Hello dear Carolin, how nice that it worked out with the interview today! Let’s start right away. We would like to turn back the clock to the beginnings of Viva con Agua. How did the idea of Viva con Agua come about?

Carolin: Viva con Agua was founded in and through the St. Pauli neighborhood in Hamburg. Benjamin Adrion, a professional soccer player for FC St. Pauli at the time, felt the need to get involved in something besides soccer after a training camp in Cuba. The idea was born to use the creative and social environment of the soccer club and the neighborhood to support social projects. With the first project – to improve water supply to kindergartens in Cuba – an incredible momentum was created. One year later, the non-profit association Viva con Agua de St. Pauli e.V. was finally founded with the vision “Water for all – all for water”.

Photo: Florian Quandt

Help without donating money? Yes, that is possible!

FIV: For our readers who don’t know Viva con Agua yet, how can people support you who don’t have the opportunity to donate?

Fragrance Tip! by FIV

Carolin: You can support Viva con Agua in many ways. The most important thing is to create awareness and attention for the important topic of drinking water among the general public. Because when we learn to appreciate water as a source of life, we also begin to protect this resource. Many also start a fundraising campaign with friends and acquaintances to collect donations for Viva con Agua. For example, they call on people to make a donation for drinking water instead of birthday gifts.*
Or they volunteer in one of the many city crews. For example, they are out and about at concerts and festivals with large deposit cup garbage cans and flags, collecting deposit cups that are donated to Viva con Agua. You can also support our work by buying our mineral water in the supermarket – the social alternative when you want something other than tap water.

Photo: Viva con Agua

Clean Drinking Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

FIV: What is your personal heart project?

Carolin: Any project that contributes to our goal of providing people with access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is a project close to our hearts. I wouldn’t prioritize them.

Besides Nepal & India, focus on Global South

FIV: You support most projects on the African continent. Do you have other projects planned on other continents?

Carolin: Our focus is on the Global South, especially the African continent. After all, a lot can be achieved in East and Southern Africa to give people access to clean drinking water. We are also particularly well networked here, for example with other organizations. But we also support projects in Nepal and India. In India, we are currently starting to implement our Universal Language Approach For Behavior Changes. We are using the universal languages of sport, music and art to provide a more joyful approach to issues such as hygiene and sanitation.

Photo: Bastian Wülfing

Living situation of 3.7 million people improved

FIV: What has been your biggest personal success with your projects so far?

Carolin: To date, we have reached around 3.7 million people with our projects and sustainably improved their living situation. That makes Viva con Agua and me incredibly proud.

World Water Day: Reminder of “Water is Life

FIV: Once a year there is World Water Day. How does this day help? Does it change anything?

Carolin: For Viva con Agua, World Water Day is the most important of the year. Because water is increasingly seen in a negative context in the media in Germany: From flood to “Are we running out of water?”. World Water Day offers the opportunity to set other perspectives and to remind people that “water is life”.

Achieving the goal: Infrastructure in the Global South

FIV: Your goal is to make clean water accessible to all. What all has to happen for this goal to be achieved?

Carolin: The focus here is primarily on infrastructure in the Global South. Because in order to ensure a long-term and sustainable water supply, the responsibility for maintenance and repairs must be in local hands. And of course, the topic of water should also receive more public attention outside of World Water Day, so that awareness of the issue can be raised. After all, water is a global issue – water cycles concern us all!

Photo: Nico Malkov

Clean drinking water accessible to all by 2030?

FIV: What year do you expect to reach your goal?

Carolin: In 2015, the UN adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs for short). Among other things, the UN has set itself the goal of providing all people worldwide with access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030. We can see today that this is ambitious, because climate change also poses challenges to this goal. However, I remain optimistic and will continue to work with Viva con Agua to achieve this SDG!

Strong focus on hygiene due to pandemic

FIV: The pandemic caused a lot of chaos. How has the pandemic affected your projects?

Carolin: Our water projects are always holistic, i.e. they also include hygiene and sanitation measures. This is called WASH for short. One positive effect was certainly that the corona pandemic brought hygiene in particular very much into focus. The new or rediscovered awareness of hygienic procedures here in Germany has once again shown many people how important hygiene is, also in terms of disease prevention. However, as many of our focus countries, such as Uganda or South Africa, were in long lockdowns, this naturally made our work on the ground more difficult and slowed it down.

*Donation campaigns can be created securely and easily online:

FIV: Thank you very much for your time! We wish you all the best on your way!

Photo: Andrin Fretz

Photo: Kevin McElvaney

Photo: Stefan Groenveld

Photo: Lea May

More about Viva con Agua

Did you like the interview with Carolin Stüdemann about Viva con Agua and would you like to learn more about the aid organization? Then you can find more information about the background in this article!

What is Viva con Agua? – Water is a human right!

An international network consisting of people and companies, and a non-profit association with the goal of making water accessible to all. The focus is on clean drinking water and basic sanitation with a focus on the Global South. Thousands of people already support the organization and actively help according to the motto: “Water for all, all for water”! You can find all information about the aid organization here!

Photo: Tabea Przybilla