In the western world, we all take the supply of clean water and sewerage systems for granted. When we turn one of our many household taps on here we expect fresh clean water to appear – instantly – in our glass or shower. Lord help the Council if it is even slightly delayed or discoloured. However, people in developing countries are not so lucky. According to a recent World Health Organisation Report, 3 in 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available, water at home. Furthermore 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation. As a result, every year, 361,000 children under 5 years of age die, due to diarrhoea. These figures often get lost in translation – due to their size!
Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid. And now, just as we are on the brink of eradicating polio, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Program has just detected the poliovirus in the sewage of 10 of its cities.
During March, which is Rotary Water and Sanitation Month, Rotarians recognise their commitment to create healthier communities by supplying clean water and sanitation facilities to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, Rotary’s people of action mobilise resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that brings lasting change. Since 2013, The Rotary Foundation has invested in more than 1,000 WASH projects in more than 100 countries. Through grants from The Rotary Foundation and fundraising by Rotary clubs, our volunteers have supported water purification, hygiene education, latrine construction, and waste management. By 2030 Rotary hopes to finish providing everyone in the world with safe water, sanitation and hygiene. A simple, but substantial, goal!
Bribie Rotary Club was involved in a WASH project in 2016/2017 when , in partnership with the Rotary Club of Drouin Victoria, we provided water to the Pinanapatan Elementary School in the Philippines.
Currently, we are developing a project called “Hand Hygiene for Health.” This project will teach children in developing countries to wash their hands and establish the hand wash habit. Water will be provided using SpaTaps - a pocket-sized cost effective device that can convert any bottle into a flow controllable tap or shower. “Hand Hygiene for Health” will have a stand in the House of Friendship at the Rotary International Convention, which is to be held in Hamburg Germany in June 2019. The Rotary Club of Noosa have already joined us, and at the Convention, our Club members George and Mary Grant will join SpaTaps’ Stuart Mason, to showcase the project and get the support from Rotary Clubs from around the World. Once we have the financial support we then apply for a global grant from Rotary International.
Tests have found that a 1. 25L bottle of water, with a SpaTap attached, will provide up to 67 hand washes with soap, or a 15 minute shower. SpaTap is already being used by WASH personnel, government disaster relief agencies and in schools in the Solomon Islands and Fiji that have little or no water. It is perfect for installing outside toilet blocks. A trial of SpaTap is to be run in Milne Bay province of PNG. When people have access to clean water and sanitation, waterborne diseases decrease, children stay healthier and attend school more regularly, and mothers can spend less time carrying water and more time helping their families. As we already know – one of the most important tools in our fight against disease – even in Australia – is a simple hand wash – before eating food and after passing human excreta.
So let's us hope our “Hand Hygiene for Health” proposal becomes a reality. If it does it will assist Rotary to reach its 2030 goal of providing clean safe water to everyone. One day we might even change the words to Coleridge’s "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and the Mariner actually has water, water everywhere – and every drop to drink!