Wasrag to Provide Safe Water for 11 Community Schools in Zimbabwe
Every Monday we profile a Dow Live Earth Run for Water partner organization that works toward providing solutions to the nearly 1 billion people who lack access to clean, safe water. To donate to one of these projects, visit liveearth.org/give.
Wasrag (the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group) is a group of Rotarians who are dedicated to one of the aspirations of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals: to halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Meeting this target has encountered serious challenges, particularly in sanitation. To make good on the promise, an additional 1.4 billion will require access to latrines, toilets and other forms of improved sanitation . And though the world was ahead of schedule to meet the 2015 target on drinking water, some countries still face enormous deficits. Official aid channels alone will not provide the needed resources; private contributions must be redoubled.
Since 2004, The Rotary Foundation has provided over $20 million for water and sanitation projects, and Rotary clubs around the world are becoming increasingly involved in this area. Welcoming all races, colors, religions and creeds to foster international goodwill and improve the quality of life for those in need, these clubs are an unparalleled source of talent and resources. Approximately 1.2 million professional and business men and women are members in 32,200 clubs in some 207 countries.
Wasrag was formed in 2007 to provide support for the water and water and sanitation projects of the Rotary Foundation and its clubs: to advise on appropriate technologies, assist in fundraising and, perhaps most critically, ensure that the projects are planned with the full cooperation and input of the communities they will serve. And because Wasrag is aware of how easily such projects founder -- the equipment breaks down, the wells run dry or become contaminated, and communities' hopes are dashed -- it has been especially vigilant to make sure its projects are ALL sustainable.
With a history of humanitarian service dating back to 1905, Rotary International (RI) has previously confronted challenges of global scale, most famously with the launch in 1985 of the Polio Eradication program. With support from the CDC, WHO and UNICEF, more than two billion children have been protected from the scourge of polio through the program. Today only four polio endemic countries remain; the number of polio cases has dwindled from 350,000 in 1985 to about a thousand today. Rotarians have contributed over $700 million to the campaign and attracted over $3 billion in matching funds from around the world. Its achievements are often unheralded, but RI's track record speaks for itself.
Wasrag endeavors to maintain this legacy of effectiveness and professionalism in its campaign for safe water and improved sanitation. One example, from a Wasrag-endorsed project in Malawi, illustrates the potential.
Working in the Livingstonia area, some 44 Rotary clubs from Scotland, Mzuzu (Malawi) and the USA (Alaska, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, California, Texas and Washington State) are working on a multi-year program that is transforming the area.
The project was the inspiration of two Rotarians from Washington State who visited Livingstonia seven years ago. As educators, they were deeply touched to see a small college struggling to achieve a century-old dream of becoming a university. They spent a good part of the next seven years in Malawi, and the university has become a reality with graduating classes for the last three years.
As they worked in the Livingstonia area, the Rotarians became increasingly aware of the critical need for safe water and, because of the Rotary's tradition of enabling its members to act, they decided they could do something about it! As with all successful water and sanitation projects, their first step was to engage the community and local government. On this firm foundation, the project grew; a gravity fed water system now transports water three miles to Livingstonia’s central plateau, serving the university, the hospital, commercial enterprises and homes. Prior to the project, some 1500 people had access to safe water. That number has now risen to 15,000, and the system - which is being extended to ten surrounding villages - has capacity to serve another 15,000.
The head of the Synod Presbyteria said at a recent graduation ceremony: "Water has changed everything." And indeed it has. Sanitation issues are being addressed, micro-finance is available and commercial initiatives are flourishing. Increased access to safe water has improved community health, and freed up time previously spent getting water. The cooperation required to develop this project has showed the community its own strength.
Donations to Wasrag will help us support Rotary clubs around the world as they develop sustainable projects, working as partners with communities in need, and ensuring the success of water and sanitation projects through good planning, local training and education, careful choice of appropriate technology and ongoing follow-up.
You can find out more about Wasrag and our work by visiting www.wasrag.org. And, you can donate to Wasrag in Canada by visiting www.crwfoundation.org or, in the US, by going to www.wasragfoundation.org. Alternatively you can support one of our projects by clicking on the button to the right.
Your support is very much appreciated!