How will your club celebrate World Water Day on 22 March?

By Joseph Derr
Rotary International News
Photo (top) by Alyce Henson/Rotary Images

Before Rotarians built this tube well in Nabapally, India, villagers there had no supply of clean, safe water. Look for more about Rotary water initiatives in the April issue of The Rotarian.
This billboard, part of Humanity in Motion III; Best of Collection is available to help clubs promote Rotary's water initiatives. Visit the Humanity in Motion resource page for more.  
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The world marks World Water Day on 22 March. Rotary clubs and districts are encouraged to celebrate World Water Day by initiating discussions, taking part in community events, and kicking off their own water-related service projects.

What's happening on World Water Day?

Rotarians in District 6900 (Georgia, USA) will participate in two community walks in Atlanta and Columbus to help raise awareness of water issues. Visit EthosT Water's World Water Day site to sign up.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the UN agency that is coordinating World Water Day 2007 activities, is hosting a ceremony on 22 March at its headquarters in Rome. Rotarians who are interested in learning more about the event may contact RI's FAO representatives Marco Randone (fax: 39-06-678-4370) and Antonio Lico.

Why water?

Nearly 20 percent of the world population doesn't have access to safe and clean drinking water, while 2.6 billion live without basic sanitation facilities. These problems exacerbate the spread of preventable waterborne illnesses that result in the death of about 6,000 people every day, the majority of whom are children. Water issues are said to be leading contributors to worldwide poverty and social instability.

According to the FAO, water use has grown twice as fast as the population has increased in the last century. This means that more regions are chronically short of potable water. This year's World Water Day theme of "Coping with water scarcity" helps highlight this issue.

What are Rotary clubs doing?

Water projects have been a major focus of Rotary club and district projects for years. Rotary International presidents, including current RI President William B. Boyd, have emphasized tackling water issues.

A Rotary project is helping a small community near San Pablo, Ecuador, get potable water as part of a series of ongoing service projects. With support of other clubs in their districts, the Rotary Club of Flemington, New Jersey, USA, (District 7150) and its host partner, the Rotary Club of Guayaquil Centenario, Ecuador, (District 7510), have just embarked on a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project to extend a public water line from a neighboring community to benefit some 156 villagers. Previous Rotary projects in the community included the construction of 39 new homes with electricity and setting up a medical clinic. Visit the project's Web site.

Just five years ago, the village of Sayod, Tajikistan, sat on miles of barren ground and its residents were among thousands living in high-altitude valleys without access to clean water for their families, livestock, or land. After helping former interns start the country's first Rotary club in Dushanbe, John Capece of the Rotary Club of LaBelle, Florida, a hydrologic engineer, spearheaded a Rotary project that uses gravity to deliver fresh water from the mountains without the need for electricity. The project, now under expansion, will provide water to 15,000 Tajiks. Learn more by visiting or reading the April 2007 issue of The Rotarian.

With reporting by Bettina Kozlowski, RI International Editor.