WaterAid in America CEO blogs from Rotary World Water Summit
Blog from David Winder, CEO of WaterAid in America:
WaterAid in America CEO David Winder
On June 19 more than 300 Rotarians, mainly from Canada and the USA, gathered in Montreal for the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG) Third World Water Summit.
I was invited together with about a dozen NGOs, private companies and foundations to share our experience in delivering water and sanitation services to the world’s poorest communities.
Over lunch I hosted discussions with two separate groups on the achievements and challenges of our work. Participants were keen to know how we support the formation of community water users associations to ensure that systems are kept up once completed. Others asked questions about how we decide which communities to target and how we work hand in hand with local government workers to build their skills.
The Rotarians explained why they had chosen water and sanitation as a focus for the community service work of their respective clubs.
I was heartened to hear so many Rotarians speaking with such enthusiasm about their commitment to ensure that more people achieved their basic right of having safe water in their homes. Clearly they see universal access to water as the next major goal Rotary Clubs should all be working for, now that polio has almost been eradicated. They are the vanguard of a potentially powerful movement that could mobilize thousands of Rotary clubs around the world.
The day was packed with discussions aimed at giving the participants information on different ways they can make a difference and the impact they could achieve. Panelists included a number of WaterAid partners including Clarissa Brocklehurst, Director of Water and Sanitation at UNICEF and Dr. Kamal Kar, who played a key role in developing the community-led total sanitation approach in Bangladesh. In between the sessions we received a steady stream of visitors to the WaterAid booth.
The day was rounded off by Jon Lane, former WaterAid Country Representative in Nepal and CEO of WaterAid in the UK and now Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council in Geneva. In an inspiring speech he challenged Rotarians to give equal attention to sanitation, to plan to put community members at the center of their planning and to work in close partnership with local CSOs, youth organizations, NGOs and local governments.
Jon Lane pointed out that if the 3,000 water projects currently being supported by Rotarians could be increased 10 -fold and each served an average of 1,000 households then 30 million families could be reached a year. Finally he urged Rotarians to always target assistance to the poorest people and to take on the challenge of providing access to water and sanitation in schools as one third of schools in developing countries don’t have any services.
It is encouraging to see the momentum gained by WASRAG in only three years. The group announced its intention to organize the fourth Water Summit at the next Rotary International Convention in New Orleans in June 2011. WaterAid is committed to everything required to support the efforts of the group with information and advice. More information on the outcome of the Summit can be found at
WaterAid's water and sanitation programs cost just $30 per person. Find out how your Rotary Club can get involved in raising money for WaterAid's vital work in the
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