Rotary clubs always pumped for World Water Day
Photo courtesy of PlayPump International
While the United Nations designates 22 March as World Water Day, Rotarians worldwide are focused on the issue throughout the year. They volunteer their time and resources to provide safe water and sanitation to communities wherever there is need.
F. Ronald Denham, general coordinator for the 2007-08 Water Resource Group, estimates clubs are involved in at least 6,000 projects in several countries, all aimed at addressing the lack of access to safe water and sanitation that claims more than two million lives each year, a majority of them children. Denham, member of the Rotary Club of Toronto Eglinton, Canada, says Rotary is committed to help achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal that calls for a 50 percent reduction by 2015 in the number of people with insufficient access to safe water and sanitation.
“This is an enormous challenge for humanity, and Rotary clubs are logical leaders in the challenge because they are embedded in their local communities, allowing the clubs to help define realistic solutions to local problems,” says Denham, who also heads the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG). “Rotary clubs also can draw on the global resources of a worldwide organization (many projects receive funding from The Rotary Foundation) and form alliances with other groups and nongovernmental organizations to implement the most appropriate solutions.”
A sampling of Rotary-supported projects underway:
WASRAG is the lead NGO participant in the Tap Project, an initiative of UNICEF that raises money for water projects by asking for a $1 donation per glass of (otherwise free) water in restaurants across the United States from 16 to 22 March.
- Rotary clubs in the Rochester, New York, USA, area are major supporters of Water for Sudan, Inc., founded by Penfield, New York, Rotarian Salva Dut, one of the so-called “Lost Boys of Sudan.” Since 2003, the program has installed 17 deep wells in Dut’s homeland. San Diego area Rotary clubs recently signed on to raise funds for a second drilling rig.
- Clubs in the United Kingdom are partnering with their counterparts in South Africa to install innovative play pumps in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, and Zambia. The technology harnesses the boundless energy of children at play by connecting playground merry-go-rounds to water pumps. A typical kid-powered pump can produce 370 gallons per hour.
- The Rotary Club of Nakuru , Kenya, has launched a program to harvest rainwater at the household level, with the goal of bringing safe water to over one million people.
- Working with a local NGO in Rajasthan, the Rotary India Water Trust is developing a sustainable water supply for about one million people in 650 villages at a cost of about $8,500 per village.