Tuesday, 14 April 2015

New Water/Sanitation and Hygiene eClub will centralize WASH skills from around the world

More and more Rotarians are heeding the call to address one of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges:    unsafe drinking water.   Access to safe water is a fundamental human need, and in many minds, a fundamental human right.  Closely aligned is the need for adequate sanitation.  All too often human waste is contaminating drinking water in developing nations and threatening the lives of millions – especially children.   Fetching water from increasingly distant sources also uses up the lion’s share of time and energy for millions of rural women. 

All of this is an outrageous waste for humankind.  It’s linked to numerous diseases and dangerous pathogens, including the poliovirus.  Rotarians have joined under the Wasrag (Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group) banner to meet the challenge.  But, we need many skills and a wide range of talents if we are to succeed.

In the past identifying and harnessing these skills has been difficult, but the emergence of the internet, social media and “apps” is changing the world.  Now we can have Rotary eClubs, uniting Rotarians electronically wherever Rotary exists. 

District 9980 (southernmost New Zealand) has been researching the feasibility of a global WASH eClub to focus and link WASH skills from around the world.  Enthusiastic support is coming from Past Rotary International President and current Wasrag Chair Bill Boyd, and Dr. Nicholas Mancus, who is currently managing a major WASH program in Uganda.  The club will retain many of a traditional club’s characteristics – but one of the biggest challenges will be maintaining the fellowship and spirit that is the heart of  Rotary.

The District is very  fortunate in having the support of University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic researchers, whose sophisticated IT expertise, united with Rotary’s humanitarian skills, will be an enormous asset for the new club.

The first step will be to form a “New Club Sponsorship” working team.  The board members of all new clubs, including eClubs, need mentoring in their early days so they can get up-to-speed as quickly as possible.  With the right guidance, we hope to have the new eClub up and running within a year. 

Regardless of where you live, if you can help District 9980 launch and sustain this eClub until its members are on their feet, please email:  info@wasrag.org.