To honor World Water Day today, the Rotary International and USAID have launched the International H2O Collaboration to implement water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in the developing world.
Rotarians worldwide, however, are focused all year long on the issue, like john Hopf who quit his job to hike 2,000 miles for water awareness. Rotary clubs are volunteering their time and resources to provide safe water and sanitation facilities to communities in need.
Today, Hopf takes his first steps down the Appalachian Trail as part of Hike4Water, a fundraising effort to support clean water solutions in Guatemala and Tanzania.
The 26-year-old quit his job as a fitness manager to hike the entire 2,200-mile trail from Georgia to Maine within about five months, stopping along the way to raise awareness among Rotary clubs and talk to the media.
Part of the proceeds from his fund-raising will help support his Rotary club in Oconomowoc, Wisc., as they set up a center in Guatemala to build and distribute bio-sand water filters.
Charles Clemmons, general coordinator of the Water Resource Group, estimates that clubs are involved in 6,000 to 7,000 projects internationally, all aimed at addressing the lack of access to clean water and sanitation that claims more than two million lives each year, a majority of them children.
The International H2O Collaboration will focus on Africa, Asia, and Latin America, developing projects in Ghana, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic — countries where Rotary clubs and USAID missions have the demonstrated ability to carry out effective water and sanitation projects. After the initial phase, the alliance will evaluate its work and consider expanding into other countries.
The Rotary Foundation and USAID will share the project funding. Both will provide technical expertise and on-the-ground support.
“We intend these projects to be models for future projects with strategic partners to enhance our contribution to world understanding, goodwill, and peace,” says Past RI President William B. Boyd, chair of the RI-USAID Steering Committee.
USAID is a government agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Its Global Development Alliance model promotes partnerships with prominent private-sector partners in the nongovernmental, foundation, and corporate arenas.
“Through this important collaboration, the service ethic and commitment of hundreds of thousands of Rotarians around the world will be joined with the global development expertise and technical leadership of USAID to yield a significant, sustainable increase in water supply and sanitation coverage for the planet’s poorest and most vulnerable populations,” says USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham.
Today, more than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. Each year, 1.8 million people — 90 percent of them children under age five — die from preventable diarrheal diseases associated with unsafe water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.