Cesar Mendez is running across the world to make a difference for communities without access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Cesar was awarded the prize of HSBC Global Water champion of the year for his support of the HSBC Water Programme over the past couple of years. As part of his prize for HSBC Water Programme global champion, Cesar visited HSBC Water Programme projects in India in December 2018. Here’s what he had to say about his experience.

Clean water is one of the most important things in life, but one in nine people around the world still lack access to this precious resource.

Last December I had the opportunity to visit India to see the wonderful work of WaterAid in local communities in Kanpur and Lucknow; it was an eye opening experience and probably the best trip of my life.

In India, 163 million people are still without access to clean water, and over half of India’s population still practice open defecation (going to the toilet in the open), which remains a big challenge.

I visited the village of Lalpur in Uttar Pradesh which made the huge achievement of attaining Open Defecation Free status within three months, through intensive community-led mobilisation efforts supported by a wider government campaign. It can be a big challenge to change habits and behaviours to start and continue using a toilet, so this is a fantastic achievement. All the households now have individual toilets and the whole community have water pumps where they can access to clean water close to home.

However, when we visited the Bharat puri community in Lucknow, I saw a completely different story that made me feel very heartbroken. The Bharat Puri community still practices open defecation, and is without access to clean water to drink and no sanitation facilities close to their home. WaterAid and HSBC are working together to improve their current situation through access to these services.

One in three people worldwide still don’t have access to a decent sanitation, and it’s really hard to believe that more people have access to a mobile phone that to a toilet. Thanks to WaterAid and the support from the HSBC Water Programme, many communities in India now have clean water to drink close to home and a decent toilet, meaning they get sick less frequently and can go to work and children go to school.

I came back home a completely different person after spending one week in India and I strongly believe that there is hope for communities without access to water and sanitation. Having seen first-hand the work of WaterAid, I feel even more motivated to continue supporting this cause which is very close to my heart.

In December 2017 I embarked on a mission across the world to run seven marathons on seven continents including Antarctica to raise awareness and funds for WaterAid; so far I’ve completed marathons in Bagan, Paris and New York and the next one will take place in the summer in Africa. If you would like to follow my progress, please visit www.RunCesarRun.com 

Water is a human right so I won’t stop running until we provide clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene for everyone everywhere across the world.

Cesar Mendez


Over the past five years, WaterAid and HSBC have worked together to transform lives in six countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria. Together, we have reached 1.65 million people with clean water and 2.5 million people with sanitation and hygiene. The work funded by HSBC Water Programme allows communities to build skills, increase their productivity and future-proof economies of the regions they live in. Find out more about WaterAid’s work in partnership with HSBC.

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