An island community mobilising to save water in Lipsi, Greece

Reckitt's Finish and GWP-Med implement the 4th year of the "Water Is In Our Hands" initiative in the Greek island of Lipsi, providing concrete tools to combat water scarcity and save water at home.

Until recently, local residents and visitors in the Greek island of Lipsi had to rely for their water supply on freight boats transporting water from larger islands or the mainland during the summer months. The quality of this water was poor, and the cost exceedingly high: reaching 15 euros per m3, it was about 30 times the price that consumers would pay for a similar quantity in Athens, Greece’s capital city. These are not recollections of a distant past, but regular experience until 2018.

The Mayor of Lipsi, Mr Fotis Mangos (left) explains the island’s history of water challenges to the “Water is in our Hands” Team.

“Small islands have at times experienced extreme water shortages, with very fresh memories of the particularly dire implications for livelihood of the inhabitants, local production and tourism” says the Mayor of Lipsi, Mr Fotis Mangos.

Since then, the upgrading of infrastructures, and most importantly the construction of a desalination plant on the island, has ensured that the island is self-sufficient in water resources. However, desalination still carries a high energy and environmental cost, making awareness and tools on water saving practices necessary.

Distributing the water saving kit, which contains aerators for the kitchen and bathroom sink taps, to reduce water consumption without reducing water flow, and other devices.

Lipsi was selected as the 4th destination of the “Water is in our Hands” initiative, by Reckitt's Finish and Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean. Aiming to provide residents with concrete tools for water saving, the GWP-Med team distributed special kits to 250 households and the island’s tourist accommodation facilities, and shared simple tips for saving water in the household.

GWP-Med Project Manager Dr. Nikos Skondras presents strategies for tackling water scarcity in small Mediterranean islands (left); Alexandros Kandarakis, GWP-Med Head of Communications, facilitates a water saving quiz (right).

On Thursday, 8 July, a public event in the island’s Cultural Center included a presentation on water saving challenges facing small islands and solutions for integrated water resources management; as well as a water saving quiz where residents of Lipsi were invited to test their knowledge on water saving practices in the home.

GWP-Med project officers Charalampos Lappas (left) and Nikos Michopoulos (right) distribute water saving kits and explain their use to local residents.

The island has collectively adopted the goal to save 1.500.000 litres of water over one year. In previous years, Water is in our hands visited Agios Efstratios, Oinousses and Psara, small islands in the Aegean sea also facing the intense challenge of water scarcity.

Street artist Yiakou (right) painted this mural to commemorate the action on the island.

This initiative follows on after more than 16 years of GWP-Med experience leveraging non-conventional water resources and promoting water efficiency to address water-scarcity and climate change impacts at local level in more than 40 Mediterranean islands. The “Water is in our Hands” initiative is focusing on changing mindsets and habits within households in island communities, promoting a new culture of water saving and offering practical solutions to reduce water consumption at home.

Left: The GWP-Med project team on a mission to distribute water saving kits, aided by the Vice-Mayor, Ms. Evangelistra Laountou. Right: The GWP-Med team was joined by Vivian Stefopoulou Reckitt (second from left) and several TV and social media influencers, to help with awareness raising and communication efforts.

According to Mr. Vangelis Pagonis, Country Manager of Reckitt Greece:

"The Water is in Our Hands initiative is proof that brands with a long history and innovation like Finish, which make the lives of millions of people easier every day, can help society as a whole move forward. Continuing the action for the 4th year, this year we visited the beautiful island of Lipsi and were thrilled by the response of its residents. We are certain that this water saving goal will also be achieved with impressive results!"

In line with the new GWP global strategy 2020-25, "Water is in our Hands" mobilises the strength and reach of the private sector to effect change. Now in its fourth year, it uses various media, including a website, social media content and TV ads, as well as exclusive content created by The National Geographic, to present the cases of small Greek islands as a wake-up call to action towards water-saving for households everywhere, whether in urban centres, or in remote rural areas throughout the Mediterranean.