Our theme for this month is Water and Sanitation. As I think about this topic, there is no doubt that this is an
area that I certainly take for granted in my life. I just assume that when I turn on the faucet or get a glass of water to
drink, that it will be clean and sanitary. But, in many parts of the world, that cannot be assumed. Even in parts of the
US, there can be concerns about the quality of our water. It was not that long ago that Flint, MI was in the news
because of problems with their water system and the quality and cleanliness of the water.

Rotary has an objective to be able to have everyone have access to clean, safe water by 2030 no matter
where in the world they live. The Rotary Foundation refers to these projects as WASH (Water, Sanitation and
Hygiene) Projects. Despite the fact that we talk about “safe” water, having “safe” water leads to being able to
provide improved sanitation and hygiene for all areas of the world. Since 2013 our Foundation has invested in more
than 1,000 WASH projects in more than 100 countries around the world. This has included things like water
purification systems, hygiene education, latrine construction and waste management systems.

As important as “clean” water is, it is not the only aspect of WASH projects that is necessary. Hygiene education is
just as important in helping populations understand the importance of this concept in disease prevention and overall
health to improve life. Students learn better through better hygiene because their overall general health is improved
which allows them to be more effective students. These education projects have been very effective in Belize,
Guatemala, Honduras, India and Kenya.

Sometimes I think that the reason we take water for granted is because so much of the surface of the world
is covered in water. It is estimated that 71 percent of the surface of the earth is covered by water. That is a huge
amount of water with 96.5% of the water contained in the oceans. Only 2.5% of all the water is fresh water and
then just 1% of our fresh water is easily accessible. The remainder is trapped in glaciers and snowfields. So yes,
there is a great deal of water in the world, but very little of it is fresh water and even less of it is clean. Half of the
freshwater is located in six countries. It is estimated that there are a billion people that live without access to clean,
safe water.

To say that water is a “precious” resource would certainly be an understatement, but it is also a very
fragile resource. Our clean, safe water can be contaminated very easily, and our lives would change drastically
without clean water. Let’s not take this resource for granted and let’s help others in the world see the benefits and
blessing of having water that is clean and safe.

Yours in Rotary,

Steve

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