How can clean water help eradicate polio?

By the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group

World Polio Day was just celebrated on October 24. It was established by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus vaccine, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Polio can also be spread by drinking water or eating raw or undercooked food that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person which is why projects that focus on water and sanitation are very important in the fight against polio.

How can you take action? Whatever works best for your community, the choice is yours! We encourage you to focus on a project that improves the quality of water and/or level of awareness in your community. You could, for example:

  • Clean up debris along a waterway, lake, creek, pond, stream, or other water source.
  • Prevent erosion by planting trees and native plants along a water source.
  • Build awareness in your community – encourage students to write essays on the importance of water and what they can do to protect it.
  • Encourage farmers in your area to use eco-friendly chemicals that will not damage fragile water systems.
  • If your community’s water source is safe, eliminate plastic water bottles. If they are a necessity, ensure they are collected and recycled appropriately.

The most important aspect is to educate your community on the importance of protecting its water sources. Get local community members involved in your efforts.

Whenever possible, please consult with your local water or conservation authority to ensure that your efforts are compatible with conditions in your area. For example, cleaning a watercourse during spawning season could have a negative impact on fish stocks.

Enter our World Polio Day Competition: Submit a brief description of your project to info@wasrag.org. Include what you are doing, the target audience and the expected impact of the project. Photos and press releases are encouraged. Remember to tell us your club name, district number, and provide a contact name, email address and phone number. Some projects will be showcased on our website.

Members of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group’s Membership Satisfaction Team will review all applications and select the winning projects. A $500 USD prize will be awarded for the most impactful project and another $500 USD will be awarded for the most innovative project.

Please submit all entries by 1 December, 2019.  Winners will be notified no later than 1 February, 2020.

Share your story! Use your project to raise awareness about polio and the importance of clean water and hygiene. We will share some projects our monthly newsletters, but why not tell your story to the Rotary world yourself?  Share your project on Rotary Showcase.


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