Partnership will bring clean water to African schools
A child drinks from a spigot in Haiti. The Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group announced a partnership to bring 5 million gallons of clean water, along with sanitation and hygiene education, to 30 schools in Malawi and Tanzania during its fourth World Water Summit on 20 May. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
The Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group announced a partnership to bring 5 million gallons of clean water, along with sanitation and hygiene education, to 30 schools in Malawi and Tanzania during its fourth World Water Summit on 20 May.
Africare, a U.S.-based charity that has been working in Africa for 40 years, will use its expertise to help implement the project. Procter and Gamble will provide PUR water purification packets through its Children's Safe Drinking Water Program. And H2O for Life, a nonprofit based in Minnesota, will connect schoolchildren in North America with those in Malawi and Tanzania to educate them about the water crisis.
Through the action group, Rotary clubs and districts can donate to the project and use their community connections to help find schools to participate.
According to UNICEF, more than half the schools in developing countries do not have safe water.
“Because Rotary groups are interested in doing something with water, we wanted to create an option that clubs could easily do that's already been screened and vetted, a way to invest their dollars to have an impact -- in this case, a five-to-one match,” said Greg Allgood, director of the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program.
Allgood helped develop the PUR treatment -- a powder that kills pathogens -- in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He then persuaded Procter and Gamble to turn it into a nonprofit venture. In 2008, he was recognized as an innovator by Popular Mechanics for his work.
The action group estimates that the water treatment will cost US$20,000 per school. Rotary clubs and districts will provide about a sixth of the funding.
The group announced several other partnerships during the summit, held in New Orleans, Louisiana, before the 2011 RI Convention. These included an alliance with Chevron to develop a technology demonstration center in Niger and an agreement with car wash owners in Atlanta, Georgia, who plan to contribute a portion of the cost of every car wash to water projects. The group is also working with Jamie Bartram, director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to develop monitoring protocols for its projects.
“Partnerships are the key to successful, sustainable water, sanitation, and health programs,” said Ron Denham, chair of the action group. About 300 Rotarians and water and sanitation professionals attended the summit.
Workshops focused on sustainable sanitation, financing, monitoring, and evaluation. Keynote speakers included Bartram; Michael Nobel, founder of the Nobel Charitable Trust; William Reilly, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator and cochair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling; RI President-elect Kalyan Banerjee; and Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Bill Boyd.
Nobel and Reilly encouraged Rotary to become a leader in water issues. “I challenge Rotary to think big,” Reilly said. “Have the sharp focus you've brought to polio. Engage more partners. Raise the energy level. And demonstrate to the world that this problem can be solved.”