Make hygiene and sanitation a habit

Gulam Vahanvaty

We are living through trying times. As the world comes to grips with having to confront the Covid-19 outbreak, I am reminded of Thomas Paine’s famous words “ These are times that try men’s souls. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value”.

Today, more than ever before, as quarantine and isolation become grim realities, we swear by sanitation and hygiene and the need for public awareness. WHO had of course flagged the need to focus on providing safe drinking water and promoting sanitation and hygiene in the century gone by. In 2017, WHO estimated that at least 2.3 billion of the world’s population was still without sanitation facilities and 884 million still lacked access to safe and clean drinking water.

The Rotary Foundation, through its WASH initiative, has been in the forefront of addressing this challenge. Since 2013, TRF has invested in many WASH stations in over 100 countries. It has also instituted a pilot programme to motivate Rotary clubs to develop a sustainable Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Education Challenge for Schools. Five countries have been chosen for this pilot – Kenya (Africa), Guatemala, Honduras and Belize ( Central America) and India. This was in recognition of their strong, committed involvement in school sanitation efforts.

This is also part of TRF’s Areas of Focus : Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Basic Education and Literacy.

Mark Antony, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, says “the evil that men do, lives on after them; the good is oft interred with their bones”. However, this is not necessarily true. Sophocles, one of ancient Greek’s greatest writers of tragedies said: “To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task.” That’s what TRF does – doing good in the world. And given the hyper connectivity in today’s world, this is abundantly acknowledged as Rotary connects the world.

Friends, stay safe and stay well.


Gulam A Vahanvaty
Trustee, The Rotary Foundation

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