District Governor Martin’s March Message
In the past year, we have had a lot of media coverage about unsafe water in New Zealand. Last year water supplies in Havelock North and Pahiatua were contaminated. Just last week government announced a plan to make 90 percent of rivers swimmable by 2040.
Globally the situation is more dire. One in ten people do not have access to safe water – that’s over 660 million people. One third of the global population lack access to a toilet – that’s 2.4 billion people. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet. “The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015” states water charity water.org
This month is Rotary’s Water and Sanitation Month. As Rotarians we can make a significant difference to improve the lives of others by providing water and sanitation.
Water and sanitation is one of the six areas of focus of The Rotary Foundation. Our giving to The Foundation and accessing grants to improve water and sanitation should be a key focus of each of our Clubs. Some of our Wellington Clubs, for example, are currently supporting the Philippines Waterfields Water Project Pampanga through a Foundation Global Grant to provide potable water to villages in the Philippines.
It is pleasing to see that so many of our Clubs are involved in this important area of human need, whether funding wells, providing water tanks and reticulation, offering solutions to make water safe, installing toilets, establishing rainwater harvesting systems, or building reservoirs and dams.
The Rotarian Action Group for Water and Sanitation is an important source of information. Our District Chair, Colin Alford (Eastern Hutt), is always ready to help. He has significant experience in water and sanitation through the RUCHI project in Northern India. I was able to visit RUCHI a few years ago and see at first hand the huge difference Rotarians in our District have made, and continue to make, to the lives of villagers in that area. The difference flows through to health outcomes, increased crops, income generation and empowerment of women.I have been very impressed with all of the activity our Rotary Clubs and District Committees are involved in as the new calendar year starts. The unpredictable weather has been a bit of a challenge, but you are to be congratulated for doing such great work for our communities