International H2O Collaboration work to begin
Top: María Magdalena Gonzalez pours filtered water into a pan for cooking in her home near Bonao, the Dominican Republic. Bottom: A bio-sand filter is filled with layers of gravel and sand, which remove organisms too big to make it through. As part of the International H20 Collaboration, Rotarians will install the filters in a cluster of communities in the Dominican Republic. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
Work will begin soon on far-reaching projects that will provide millions of people with access to clean water and improved sanitation.
As part of the International H2O Collaboration, an innovative alliance between Rotary International and USAID, the improvements will include long-term water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in Ghana and the Philippines, two of the three countries selected for the first phase of the collaborative effort.
A grant application for the third country, the Dominican Republic, is expected to go before The Rotary Foundation Trustees later this month for consideration.
The steering committee chose the three countries based on need, as well as the demonstrated ability of Rotary clubs and districts and USAID missions there to carry out effective water and sanitation projects.
In Ghana, the alliance will work closely with local governments to provide hygiene training, boreholes, mechanized water systems, and new latrines. An estimated 86,000 people will benefit from the work, which will occur in 114 communities spread over four regions.
“It’s going to make such a big difference in the lives of these people, though it’s so small a number compared with the total number of people who need this,” says Past District Governor K.O. “Willie” Keteku, who’s helping to coordinate the projects. “Right now, it takes too much time for people to look for water, and the water’s not clean. They get sick, and their time could instead be invested in other ventures, like the children attending school.”
In the Philippines, the alliance will be working in five communities -- Davao City, Dipolog, Metro Manila, San Fernando City, and Zamboanga -- to provide new septic treatment facilities, sanitation systems, river cleanup efforts, a mechanized water supply system, and community water taps that will distribute filtered water. The work is expected to help more than 2.1 million people.
“We are really fortunate to have been one of the three countries selected,” says Lina Aurelio, a past governor of District 3800 involved in organizing the improvements. “So many children die here because of polluted water. It’s a very big problem, almost all over the country.
“Everyone buys water, even those earning minimum wage, but in the slum areas they can’t afford to,” Aurelio says. “There are millions of cases of diarrhea each year that cause 11,000 to 12,000 deaths annually. Because of the very bad sewage system we have, everything is affected.”
In the Dominican Republic, the alliance will implement a wide range of water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions, including bio-sand filters in a small cluster of bateyes (communities of current and former sugar plantation and mill workers). When the initial phase is completed, the collaboration will evaluate the work and consider expanding it to other nations.
The improvements will cost about US$2 million per country. Rotary will provide up to $500,000 through Health, Hunger and Humanity Grants, and participating clubs and districts will raise an additional $500,000 per country. USAID will contribute $1 million per nation from its mission budget.
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