Preparing for the trip of a lifetime in Africa

Dave Cook (left) and Liam Garcia train in Sheffield for their African challenge  which starts in January. Picture Scott MerryleesDave Cook (left) and Liam Garcia train in Sheffield for their African challenge  which starts in January. Picture Scott Merrylees
Dave Cook (left) and Liam Garcia train in Sheffield for their African challenge which starts in January. Picture Scott Merrylees
Usually when people embark upon a mammoth challenge trekking across some of the most hostile places in the world their aim is to complete a personal journey and raise money for charity.

However those behind a 4,400 mile expedition across eight African countries also plan to use their incredible journey to investigate the success of water and sanitation projects across Africa and answer the key question: “Are we throwing away money on water projects in Africa?”

Liam Garcia, project co-ordinator and founder of Sheffield-based charity, The Long Well Walk, and a trans-Europe walker, will spend around six months walking and cycling across eight African countries. He will be joined along the way by five others, including expedition cyclist Dave Cook, from near Bakewell.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The project, due to start next month, will also be filmed by a team of documentary makers to highlight issues and it is planned it will be screened as part of the group’s aim of raising the understanding of the journey of a single donation in the UK to a water project in Africa.

Projects will be visited along the way are those supported by the Sheffield charity which raises money to support small community projects to improve sanitation and water supplies across Africa.

Mr Garcia, who lives in Sheffield, said: “There are more risks in this trip than I think any of the trips that we have done before.”

“For the most part Africa is not the best place to be on a road,” he added.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Cook, who has taken part in other cycling challenges including a trip between Singapore and Mumbai added: “We will also have to be careful of the wildlife, you don’t normally have to deal with this in parts of Britain.”

The intrepid team will begin their challenge in the shadow of South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain and the expedition will take the team from urban townships through rural villages and through some of the most hostile landscapes in the world.

They will visit a number of countries during the trek including Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with a support vehicle carrying shelter, water and supplies. They plan to sleep under canvas and in hostels and will visit existing water and sanitation projects developed as a result of previous fundraising.

Mr Garcia, says as well as being a fact-finding mission, the expedition also aims to raise enough cash to develop three water and sanitation projects.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He expects the heat to make the journey difficult - temperatures are expected to hit 40 degrees - and in the lead-up to the expedition the team have been training to prepare physically and also make sure they have the planning and logistics in place to deal with everything from the heat to malaria and ensuring their personal safety in hostile environments.

During the trip the team will carry out formal research looking at the success and importance of water projects and interview people including international development decision makers and carry out assessments of existing projects and the landscapes and people they serve.

Mr Garcia hopes the trip will help to answer key questions for UK donors who support projects to improve water supplies in Africa including: “What should our role be? Where do our donations go? Why should this money be going there.”

The Long Well Walk aims to support projects to improve water supply and sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa and to raise awareness of the issues.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Factors including poverty, climate change, natural disasters, politics and agriculture are all factors that can influence local water supplies and during the journey the team will be keeping people up-to-date with progress via Twitter at @longwellwalk and get more information about the charity from the website:

Photos, videos and blogs will be posted online and an interactive map will allow people to experience the landscapes that they are tackling and the people the team members encounter along the way.