With increasing population rates and such a small percentage of all the water on Earth fit for consumption, its imperative and essential that we preserve and conserve this precious resource. Since each of us depends on water to sustain life, it is our utmost responsibility to learn more about water conservation and how we can help keep our sources pure and safe for generations to come.
The unveiling of the ‘Water – Be The Change campaign
In September 2019, the Energy and Water Agency within the Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development, had officially launched the national water conservation campaign, ‘Water – Be The Change’.
This engaging and informative campaign project was part-financed by the European Union under the Cohesion Fund- European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020. The ultimate goal of this campaign was to educate and highlight awareness on people’s behaviour towards water conservation on the Maltese Islands, targeting the domestic, commercial and agricultural sectors.
The main objective of this outreach effort was to spotlight innovative water conservation technologies and interventions in various sectors, including domestic, public, and agricultural. The aim was to attain measurable reductions in water consumption and demand.
These designated “demo sites” aimed to provide evidence that even minor interventions in smaller spaces can yield substantial water savings on a nationwide scale. The interventions covered a wide spectrum, encompassing simple additions like aerators or drip irrigation, as well as more comprehensive measures like well repairs and the establishment of a secondary water management system. These examples vividly illustrate the significant positive outcomes that can result from such interventions in terms of promoting water conservation.
Undoubtedly, demonstration sites played a pivotal role in this National Water Conservation Campaign, serving as practical platforms to exhibit the effective implementation of water-saving measures and water demand management strategies. By presenting tangible results and success stories, the demonstration sites were intended to foster wider adoption of sustainable water practices across the community.
Community engagement was also the cornerstone of Water Be the Change. As the Agency’s water team toured the Maltese Islands with their mobile unit to meet people from all walks of life, the campaign nurtured a sense of shared responsibility for water resources. It inspired local communities to unite and take collective action, understanding that together, we can make a lasting impact.
Our Water Mobile Unit Team were provided with training and branded uniforms and participated in well-attended organised events and national fairs, with the aim of bringing our messages to events attended by the public. The selection of events portrays our objective of reaching as wide enough a cross-section of the population as possible. Not only geographically, but also demographically. During these events water conservation information was handed out in the form of printed materials and one-to-one discussions with our team sharing best practice and tips on how to conserve water at home & the office in visitors’ everyday.
Despite the lock downs due to COVID-19 and the impossibility of attending organised events due to none being organised, the ‘Water – Be The Change’ team still attended 30 events over the duration of the campaign as per tender requirements.
Celebrating ‘World Water Day’ every year
Throughout this national The Agency’s water team celebrated every year the ‘World Water Day’, which is held on 22nd March since 1993. On this significant day, Malta joins the rest of the world to celebrate water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water.
The ‘Water – Be the Change’ campaign has been at the forefront of educating and creating awareness about safeguarding groundwater from pollution and promoting its sustainable use, ensuring a balance between human needs and environmental preservation. A Water Week was initially planned around World Water Day 2020, with Valletta being the preferred location. All the necessary logistical arrangements were in place. However, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this activity had to be postponed to subsequent years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic World Water Day in 2021 was also postponed.
In preparation for National Water Day, 2022, an information stand for the ‘Water – Be the Change’ campaign was set up at Great Siege Square, Valletta from 16th March until 22nd March 2022. Throughout this week, the public was encouraged to actively engage with the campaign and the Energy and Water Agency to raise awareness about the value of groundwater. On the last day, Wednesday, March 22nd, World Water Day, Malta joined the global community in raising awareness about the importance of clean water in our lives by celebrating World Water Day.
For World Water Day 2023, which focused on accelerating change to address the global water and sanitation crisis, our campaign team members spent the entire week in Gozo, between 20th and 26th March, with the aim of reaching out to the general public and educating them about the significance of freshwater conservation.
During the entire week, the campaign’s mobile unit was located in Gozo, in Giorgio Borg Olivier Street, Rabat. The ‘Water – Be the Change’ team interacted with the public, promoting water conservation tips that can be easily implemented at home, work, and in the agricultural sector.
Water conservation outreach programme
This comprehensive campaign was also supported by a nationwide distribution drive called the ‘Join The Drops Tour’. This operation started off in Senglea, Vittoriosa and Kalkara, in Janauray 2020. Every primary residence in Malta and Gozo was visited by a uniformed Team of Water Officers to deliver a water conservation pack including a voucher and gadgets to be used around the home as an introduction on how to consume water more efficiently.
Between Friday and Saturday of that week the ‘Water – Be The Change’ Mobile Unit would be parked in a main area of that town. Thanks to the assistance of the Water Team, during these particular days, people could redeem the voucher received at home for a further five water-saving gadgets, for free, depending on eligibility. Should the public have missed the Home Visits or were not able to attend the Town Tour they were referred to Għajn, our Water Information Centre in Rabat.
Interventions and implementation
Throughout the entire campaign, the Water Team conducted pilot project in different residences across Malta and Gozo, and a budget of €4000 was allocated, covering a total of 250 residences.
Public projects in five offices were allocated a budget of €75,000 each, while a budget of €5,000 was assigned to each pilot project on 150 farms.
The interventions carried out at each site, led by experienced technical suppliers, have demonstrated the effectiveness of innovative water-saving technologies and practices. By engaging diverse stakeholders and actively involving representatives from the Contracting Authority, the project has encouraged broader adoption of water conservation measures and increased awareness about the importance of water sustainability.
The Water conservation gift pack
Each gift pack distributed in the Home Visits was delivered in a campaign branded box and included a campaign branded aerator (including installation instructions), a plate scraper which makes dirty dishes easier to clean, whether in a sink or a dishwasher, and an information leaflet offering water conservation tips for the home.
Also included was an invitation for the homeowner to visit the campaign mobile unit, in their town, the in the weekend to obtain a Water Conservation Kit.
The Water conservation kit
Each Water Conservation Kit was designed to address various water usage points in the home. Each Kit contained five water saving devices presented in a campaign-branded box, including installation instructions and a leaflet with information on water conservation in Malta and water conservation tips. All information was presented in English and Maltese.
While collecting the Kits the public was invited to book an appointment for a free water audit at home, and they were also asked to fill in a questionnaire regarding whether the distributed aerators were installed, the level of satisfaction with them and with the Water Team and other aspects of the ‘Water – Be The Change’ campaign.
Inspiring school children to become ‘Water Heroes’
Educating the younger generation about water conservation is vital in fostering a sustainable future. To address this, a series of initiatives were organized to engage school children at primary school level, to raise awareness and inspire action.
These initiatives included the creation of theatrical performances and a comic competition, both targeted to the younger generation encouraging a sense of responsibility for water conservation.
The campaign also introduced a comic competition to engage students in water conservation. Open to local primary school classes from Year 1 to Year 6, the competition encouraged participants to create a one-page comic strip about water conservation. Each participating school could submit up to three entries, allowing students to express their ideas and creativity. In total 61 submissions were received from across 21 schools in Malta and Gozo.
To conclude the comic competition, an awards ceremony took place at the “Għajn – National Water Conservation Awareness Centre” in Rabat. A total of eight comic strips were shortlisted, and these were published in Sagħtar magazine between October 2022 and May 2023.
During the awards ceremony, the schools with the top three entries were acknowledged and presented with the financial contributions for their respective school’s water conservation projects. These funds were than used for the introduction or improvement of water fixtures or devices within the school buildings.
In addition to the winners, all participants in the comic competition received certificates of participation, recognizing their efforts and contributions. The ceremony celebrated the achievements of all participants and acknowledged their role as water heroes in their communities.
Conferences and technical workshops
Throughout this educational nationwide campaign a series of conferences and workshops were organised attracting lay people, different industry sectors, NGOs, ministerial and local council representatives, University lecturers and students.
These conferences took the format of various presentations by various local and international water conservation specialists, as well as panel discussions and tackled different aspects of water conservation.
Discussions were held regarding the main challenges for the achievement of good status for Malta’s water resources and the measures needed to be implemented, the need for more green areas in local communities and innovative solutions on making the water circular economy possible, and of course the implementation of different water conservation methods.
The last conference spread over two days provided an opportunity for hydro geologists and professionals to exchange ideas and discuss different issues on groundwater resources.
A distinctive and bi-lingual campaign brand identity was created by the agency. This included campaign naming, logo and brand creation including a visual identity to be used throughout.
Due to the broad spread of subject matter, it was decided that illustration would be the best way forward, as it provides flexibility to portray different topics, while also being relevant to the broad target audience of the campaign (adults and children alike).
As part of the above consistent and recognisable brand campaign the talents of two well-known and liked local personalities were engaged to act as Brand Ambassadors/Water Champions for the entire campaign – Stephanie Spiteri and Christopher Dingli.
Both personalities are bilingual, allowing us to use them across the board. Other voices over artists were used for the longer, documentary-style productions. Except for the 12-minute introductory documentary, which was filmed in Maltese with Stephanie Spiteri and in English with Christopher Dingli.
Over a 3-year campaign nine 15” television adverts were requested in both Maltese and English. Our Water Champions – Chris Dingli and Stephanie Spiteri – were used in all adverts, and to provide a consistent visual identity, TV adverts consisted of a mixture of footage and animation.
Three adverts were produced every year communicating different water conservation tips as well as features of the campaign (e.g.: The door-to-door distribution).
As with television, the tender required the production of nine 30” radio adverts in both Maltese and English. The advert scripts were written in rhyming style and voiced by our Water Champions as well. They were used to disseminate water conservation tips and campaign information.
Other media promotion included a series of Google banners, newspapers advertising and numerous Public Relations activities.
The PR plan of activities was designed to focus on the following criteria: creating awareness, reputation, and crisis management, undertaking sensible and effective media relations and relevant media management. A minimum of one PR article was released every quarter of the campaign period. These articles were written in both Maltese and English and were distributed to all media outlets. The written content was of an informative nature, at times including details and information about sessions and exhibitions, which were organised periodically in conjunction with local councils, and educational entities such as the University of Malta and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and other related organisations.
Moreover, the website was used as a central point of reference with all digital communication being linked to pages with relevant information.