More than a basic necessity

Rotary’s focus turns to two themes this month. March is Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Month, and we celebrate World Rotaract Week March 11–17. Both WASH and Rotaract are near and dear to me.

Clean water, basic sanitation, and proper hygiene are fundamental human rights, yet a staggering 2.2 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water.

We’re taking action. Over the past decade, your Rotary Foundation has invested more than $180 million in over 2,500 water and sanitation projects worldwide. Rotary is on the ground making a difference through global grant-supported projects funded by your contributions to the Foundation.

But Rotary can’t do it alone. We have partnered with ­organisations like USAID to deliver large-scale solutions. The Rotary-USAID partnership has helped thousands access water and sanitation services in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, the Philippines and Uganda.

Our Foundation is the connector for other water partnerships, too. This was the case when I worked with leaders from Rotary District 7020 to set up the Haiti National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene initiative, known as HANWASH. Foundation grants continue to play a critical role in our strategy of working with nongovernmental organisations, municipalities and government agencies in communities throughout Haiti.

Rotary efforts to connect people with clean water go beyond providing a basic necessity. We are paving the way for healthier communities and brighter futures, and doing so in a sustainable manner. With access to water, communities enhance education levels, improve health, and further development.

When we talk about partnerships, we can’t forget our closest ally, right here in the family of Rotary: Rotaract. The engagement, energy and ideas of Rotaract complement the experience of Rotary clubs and increase our collective impact.

Yet many Rotary members still do not know that, as of 2022, Rotaract club activities can be included in district grants, and they are eligible for global grants, expanding avenues for collaboration. I encourage all Rotary and Rotaract clubs to foster closer collaboration and engagement in our Foundation, whether it’s rolling up their sleeves on a project or giving. We all know that in Rotary, great opportunities are always around the corner. When you combine water and sanitation projects, Rotaract, and the Foundation, all will become a big part of your life, as they have in mine — and not just this month, but forever.

Barry Rassin
TRF Trustee Chair

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