Providing safe drinking water
Over 2,500 people in rural Uganda are benefiting from a Matching Grant project between the Rotary clubs of Mityana, Uganda, and Franklin, Indiana, USA, for two wells and water purification systems. Photo courtesy of Joseph Matovu
T he Rotary Club of Summerland, British Columbia, Canada, has been helping villagers in the Nakuru district of Kenya gain access to safe drinking water for years.
Since 2002, the Summerland club, with help from the Rotary Club of Nakuru and other Kenyan clubs, has funded the construction of more than 2,500 rainwater harvesting tanks, improving the daily lives of women in the area and allowing them to provide cleaner water to their families.
Rotary Community Corps help distribute the tanks, which are produced locally and store 2,600 gallons of water, enough for a family of 10. The project also has received support from District 1580 (The Netherlands), along with more than US$315,000 through a Health, Hunger and Humanity Grant and Matching Grants from The Rotary Foundation.
The tank project is just one example of Rotarians' ongoing commitment to improving access to safe drinking water, one of the themes of this year's World Water Week.
Every year, experts, decision makers, and leaders from around the globe meet as part of World Water Week to exchange ideas and develop solutions to the most urgent water-related issues. Ron Denham, chair of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG ), is attending this year's event in Stockholm, Sweden, 5-11 September.
“Almost everyone in the water world will be there,” says Denham, who served as general coordinator of the 2007-08 Water Resource Group. “I will be talking with organizations about partnering with WASRAG, because we want to help The Rotary Foundation leverage money from other organizations."
Denham says Rotary not only provides money through Foundation grants but also represents boots on the ground. "We provide people who work."
Since 1978, The Rotary Foundation has awarded nearly 5,000 grants totaling $52.7 million to support water and sanitation projects.
Rotary’s work to ensure access to clean water and sanitation around the world also includes:
- In 2009, Rotary International joined with USAID to form the International H2O Collaboration. Groundbreaking has begun on its initial projects, which aim to bring clean drinking water and basic sanitation to communities in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and the Philippines. The collaboration in the Dominican Republic will fund improvements including hygiene training and bio-sand water filters. In Ghana, over 85,000 people in more than 110 villages will benefit from mechanized water systems, wells, rainwater collection vessels, and hygiene education. In the Philippines, a project to improve sewage collection and treatment will help more than 150,000 people.
- The Rotary clubs of Pilar Norte, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Griffin, Georgia, USA, have been working together on the Better Health through Better Hygiene project, launched in June 2009. A Foundation Matching Grant helped purchase booklets, brochures, and personal hygiene kits for more than 6,000 kindergarten and first-grade students in Pilar, about 35 miles from Buenos Aires. Rotarians also provided teachers with posters and manuals to help them promote better hygiene in their classrooms, and gave them soap, hand sanitizer, and dispensers to encourage regular hand-washing at school.
- Rotarians in District 6440 (Illinois, USA) delivered and assembled water filters for nine families in eastern Guatemala while visiting Ak’Tenamit, a remote river settlement and community development project, in February.