Rotary clubs always pumped for World Water Day
EVANSTON, Ill., USA (March 20, 2009) — While the United Nations designates March 22 as World Water Day, Rotary club members around the globe are focused on the issue 24/7, volunteering their time and resources to provide safe water and basic sanitation to communities wherever there is need.
From simple bio-sand filters to pipelines, Rotary clubs worldwide are involved in 6,000 to 7,000 projects aimed at addressing the lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation that claims more then two million lives each year, most of them children.
“Rotary club members bring a unique set of qualifications to such projects,” says F. Ron Denham, a Rotary member from Toronto, Ont. who heads the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, an international group of Rotary members interested in the issue. “Being members of the community, they understand how to get local ownership. They understand local culture, which often determines success or failure. They know the local nongovernmental organizations and which ones are good partners for their project. And they connect with a worldwide network of people with similar values and commitment.”
Recognizing Rotary’s strength at the grassroots level, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is teaming up with Rotary in a new alliance called the International H20 Collaboration, which will implement long-term, sustainable, water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in the developing world. Announced March 18, the alliance will begin work in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and the Philippines, with other countries to follow based on the success if the initial experiences. Alliance activities in each country will be funded jointly by USAID and Rotary, with an expected minimum initial commitment of $2 million per country.
Denham 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 basic sanitation. Worldwide, more than one billion people lack access to reliable sources of safe water, and twice that many lack access to sanitary human waste disposal systems, creating an environment that allows the disease-poverty cycle to thrive. Economic development suffers as women and girls forgo education and occupations to spend hours a day fetching water for their families.
A sampling of Rotary-supported projects currently underway:
In the Dominican Republic, Rotary clubs have helped install more than 18,000 bio-sand filters. These simple and inexpensive devices cost as little as $60 each and can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by up to 40 percent -- a dramatic decline in a leading cause of childhood deaths in the developing world. Participants include about 120 Rotary clubs in Canada, the United States, and several Caribbean countries.
- The Rotary clubs of Bamenda, Cameroun, and Charlottesville, Va., have teamed up with students from the University of Virginia engineering school on a water project funded partly by a $13,500 grant from the Rotary Foundation. The effort will help establish three water storage tanks and a connective piping system to deliver clean water to 50,000 people. The clubs have contributed $18,500 toward the three-phase project, which will be completed in 2010.
- The Rotary Club of Paramaribo, Suriname, worked with clubs in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States on a $73,000-project to set up a new water system, including holding tanks, filters, pumps, and other equipment, powered by solar panels. Additional support came from Alcoa Foundation, Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and Georg Fischer Clean Water Foundation.
- Using a $330,000 Rotary Foundation grant, the Rotary clubs of Denver Southeast, Colo., and Nairobi-Langata, Kenya, are partnering to build shower and bathroom facilities for 150,000 residents living in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.
Rotary is a global organization of business, professional, and community leaders committed to providing humanitarian service and helping to build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary’s 1.2 million members belong to more than 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues, such as poverty, disease, hunger, violence and lack of access to clean water. As an organization, Rotary’s top priority is the global eradication of the crippling disease polio. To learn more about Rotary, visit www.rotary.org.
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