Living in Australia, you think a lot about water. When you travel to the nation’s vast interior, the Outback, you can’t help but wonder how such an arid climate has supported life for millennia. There, each sip of water feels precious.
Each sip seems to get more precious by the day as climate change continues to impact water supply everywhere. Where Juliet and I live, on the temperate coast not far from Melbourne, I remember times not long ago when water supplies were so low that severe usage restrictions were put into place. We now live on rainwater that falls onto our roof and is collected in a tank. In many parts of the world, people don’t have that luxury.
Water is essential for life no matter where we live. Yet many of us take it for granted. Think of all the times today you turned on the tap. About 1 in 4 people in the world have quite a different experience when they do — if they have a tap at all. Today, two billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water, according to the United Nations. It is heartbreaking that each year, about 300,000 children under age five die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water — all preventable circumstances.
This is where Rotary comes in. Through your support, TRF provides water and sanitation for countless communities around the globe. Foundation global grants have ranged from providing toilets and hygiene education for villages in the Philippines to building infrastructure for year-round access to safe, affordable drinking water in Brazil.
The water and sanitation problems that we face are too great for any of us to solve alone. But whether we work with global grant partner districts across the world or with large agencies such as USAID, we are making a difference.
When thinking of teaming up to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, remember that one of our greatest partners is right here within the family of Rotary: Rotaract.
Effective this Rotary year, Rotaract clubs may apply for global grants. I encourage Rotary and Rotaract clubs to work together on existing grants and for Rotary clubs to support grants sponsored by Rotaract clubs. Together, Rotary and Rotaract clubs are going to take the power of the Foundation to a new level. TRF has more potential than ever to make a difference in the water and sanitation challenges we all face, thanks to your generous support.
Ian H S Riseley
Foundation Trustee Chair