Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as Head of the Commonwealth, has recently recognised Abel Odeke, representing Uganda, as the 157th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of his exceptional voluntary service promoting water equality.

Abel is the co-founder of ‘Equal Aqua Uganda’, an initiative which aims to build sustainable water tanks in rural Uganda providing a clean water source for the next 20 years. The tanks – one of which has recently completed construction – are being made using plastic “ecobricks”, waste plastic bottles which are filled with sand, with Abel and his team leading a campaign alongside the building project to raise awareness of plastic pollution. During the coronavirus pandemic, they have also opened hand washing stations in remote villages and been educating local people on how to protect themselves from the virus, including through soap-making workshops.

As part of the legacy of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London 2018, Her Majesty The Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 54 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond, by recognising one volunteer from each Commonwealth country every week. By sharing these stories of service, the Commonwealth Points of Light awards celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.

Abel said: “Our team from Uganda and the UK are deeply honoured to receive recognition from the British High Commission for our charitable work. As a new, youth-led organisation run by a team of passionate volunteers, this award will open many doors for us. It will help us to raise awareness and support for our programmes that provide equal access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all Ugandans. It will allow us to connect with like-minded organisations and build international solidarity around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Thank you and weebale nyo.”

Peter West, British High Commissioner to Uganda, said: “Globally, 1 million people die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases. In Uganda about 50% of the population lack access to safe water and water-borne diseases kill thousands each year. Equal Aqua Uganda are addressing a great need and challenge in Uganda and I am delighted this has been officially recognised, with Managing Director Abel Odeke awarded the Points of Light award. Points of Light awards are given to outstanding individuals who are making a real difference and change in their community. Congratulations to Abel and the whole of the Equal Aqua Uganda team for being a part of the solution to Uganda’s water challenges.”

The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 54 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. The Heads of Government meeting brought together leaders from all the 54 Member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people. Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way.

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