By Rotary Service and Engagement
According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people around the world still lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. Unsafe hygiene practices are widespread, effecting people’s health. More than 340,000 children under five die annually from diarrheal diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water – that is almost 1000 children per day.
Access to an improved drinking water source is most impactful when there is also access to improved sanitation and commitment to good hygiene practices. Beyond the immediate advantages of people being hydrated and healthier, access to water, sanitation and hygiene has broader socio-economic impacts, particularly for women and girls. *
Through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, Rotary’s people of action mobilize resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change. Below are some recent examples of Rotarians in action:
- The Rotaract Club of Melbourne City in Australia organizes an annual Clean Up the Yarra event for Rotaractors, Rotarians, and community volunteers. This event coincides with Clean Up Australia Day, a nation-wide initiative to inspire and empower communities to clean up and conserve the environment. 45 passionate People of Action stepped forward to clean a portion of the Yarra River. Volunteers were organized into three teams to tackle separate areas of the shoreline and surrounding green space.
- Many students attend the Bang Klam Pottery Learning Center in Thailand, but only have access to one very old restroom which sometimes doesn’t have a water supply. The Rotary Club of Hatyai East, in partnership with their local Rotary Community Corps, supported the center by building three restrooms and a water tank. The funds from the project came from selling community pottery products.
- The Rotary Clubs of Rabindra Sarobar and Sahanagar in India organized a full-day awareness campaign to promote healthy sanitation and hygiene practices in slums of South Kolkata. The awareness sessions were attended by 1000 people from the community.
- The Arusha region in Oldonyo Sambu, Tanzania has a population of 3,256 and is the region most affected by fluorosis in Tanzania. The fluorine content of the drinking water in Oldonyo Sambu is about 12 times more than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended level. This leads to skeletal fluorosis, a very debilitating bone condition. In conjunction with the Nasio Trust, the Rotary Club of Abingdon in England implemented a project where three water tanks, guttering and all pipework were strategically installed at various locations within the Arusha region, enabling families to share the supply of safe water.
During March, Rotary’s Water and Sanitation Month, take action to provide clean water and sanitation in your communities. Add your club’s water and sanitation project to Rotary Ideas to find support or post your completed projects on Rotary Showcase. Join the conversation in the Water and Sanitation discussion group.
*UN Water: http://www.unwater.org/water-facts/water-sanitation-and-hygiene.