Rotary clubs have water projects on tap
A child drinks clean water from a spigot in Haiti. A US$64,566 contribution from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund is supporting a project of the Rotary Club of Mirebalais, Centre, to construct 80 rainwater collection tanks, each with a 2,500-gallon capacity. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
V illages in four regions of Ghana are being equipped with ventilated pit latrines, showers, and boreholes featuring hand pumps and mechanized pipes through the efforts of dozens of Rotary clubs in Latin America, North America, and Ghana.
The effort is part of the The International H2O Collaboration, an alliance between Rotary International and USAID, a centerpiece of Rotary’s emphasis on water and sanitation issues. Launched in 2009, the alliance works to implement long-term, sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in the developing world. The first phase of the partnership has focused on three countries: Ghana, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic.
In 2011, The Rotary Foundation also established a strategic partnership with UNESCO-IHE, a United Nations institute in The Netherlands that is the world’s largest postgraduate water education facility. The Rotary Foundation will provide grants to Rotary clubs and districts to select and sponsor eight students each year for scholarships leading to master’s degrees in specified program areas.
Collaboration is key if Rotary is to help the world achieve the water and sanitation improvements called for in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, said Ron Denham, chair of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group and a member of the Rotary-USAID Steering Committee.
“We realize that the challenge of meeting the development goals is something that no organization can achieve on its own,” Denham said. “Not even Rotary, with its 34,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members. To be successful we need leverage, the leverage that comes from collaboration with others who share our goals.”
To draw attention to the need for action, the United Nations has designated 22 March as World Water Day. Each year since 1993, it has selected a different theme. This year’s summit addresses the connection between hunger and water resources. The number of people in the world living in chronic hunger puts an additional strain on the supply of water. Learn more about World Water Day events.
Rotarians are engaged in many water and sanitation projects year-round. Here's a sampling:
- In Uganda, a very successful relationship between World Vision and the Rotary club of Gulu is improving the lives of up to 50,000 villagers through a joint bore-hole and behavior change program.
- Rotarians in District 5420 (Utah, USA) are working with Rotarians in Colombia and Ecuador on a series of global grant projects to build bathrooms for schools, provide clean drinking water, and teach students better hygiene practices. They also have reached out to the general public through billboard, radio, and television public service announcements.
- The Rotary club of La Molina Vieja, Peru, supported by The Rotary Foundation, embarked on a program to help local Indian villagers build, install, operate, and maintain a bio-sand filter program. The program has benefited from the help of a local NGO and technical support from the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology in Calgary, Canada.
- In Lima, Peru, Rotarians with support from the Foundation have provided water filters to 5,000 families living along the Rimac River, which is polluted with high levels of cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, and arsenic. See the video Doing Good: Providing Clean Water.
- In Ghana, a coalition of more than eighty clubs from the U.S., Canada, and Switzerland, together with the host clubs of Sunyani Central, Tamale, and Bolgatanga Goodwill, Ghana, have drilled boreholes, repaired wells, and installed water systems in remote areas. Rotarians have also played an instrumental role in eradicating Guinea Worm Disease in the country. Read more in Rotary Voices.