Water & Peace:A challenge toRotariansRon Denham, ChairWater & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group,Zone 13B InstituteAmsterdam – November 2012
How can there be peace under suchconditions? 900 million people (one in six) denied access to safe water. 2.5 billion with no safe sanitation. 8000 people dying every day from lack of access to safe water. 250 child deaths every day from unclean water.
Or, when: African women spend an estimated 40 billion hours annually collecting and hauling water. Women and children (usually girls) spend up to six hours per day fetching water. Families often spend up to 25% of their income to purchase water. 443 million school days are lost each year to water-related illness!!!
And increasingly, when: Industrial development takes water from crops and livestock, threatening the life and livelihood of the people. Mining and industrial development pollutes the water supply of the village. Those that have water, pollute and waste it indiscriminately.
“Many of today’s conflicts around theworld are being fuelled by watershortages… Increasingly fights areerupting over such basic human needs aswater and arable land.” Ban Ki-moon, February 2008
For example: 300,000 farmers in Orissa demonstrate against water allocation. Israel and Palestine dispute over aquifers. Coca-Cola v. the People (Kerala). Conflict in Darfur over scarce water. 250 people killed in Somalia over a water hole. Riots in Cochabamba after privatization.
Rotarians can mitigate the conflict: Work with the community to ensure equitable access for personal use. Strengthen and train Water Users Committee (WUC). Facilitate cooperation between groups to find effective, affordable, sustainable solutions. Involve other NGOs with the needed skills and know-how. Implement training programs for operation and maintenance. Create Rotary Community Corps (RCCs) to involve the community. Choose the right technology.
Help the community to increase sustainablewater supply Implement rainwater harvesting and recharging. Rehabilitate village ponds. Dig and operate wells/boreholes at sustainable abstraction rates. Recover waste water/grey water. Build earth and sand dams. Filter and reduce pollution of water sources. BUT – water for personal use represents only 1% of usage. How can we have a bigger impact?
Work with the agricultural and livestock communityto reduce demand. Do more with less! Raise efficiency of agriculture – the BIG user. Create awareness of ways to reduce demand. Agree on tariffs and pricing to ensure financial sustainability. Agree to an allocation among users. Reduce evaporation; adopt “drip irrigation”. Invite Vocational Training Team (VTT) experts to suggest better strategies. Change to more water-efficient crops.
In Togo Rotarians brought peace where previouslythere was hostility: Insufficient water had led to conflict. With Rotarian guidance, local people dug wells. Women shared in the inauguration with libations and thanks to ancestors and to God. Availability of sufficient water eliminated conflicts; peace prevailed.
A Rotarian-created oasis in Haiti enabled thecommunity to resist guerrillas: Land was flooded to make way for a power plant. Farmers were forced up the mountain where they starved. Rotarians helped install a hydraulic pump system. Community became self-sufficient – able to resist Haitian guerrillas. The area experienced sustained growth, other areas have floundered.
Quality of life for Indian villagers dramaticallyimproved by a Rotary water project: A community eking out a bare existence growing rice, took advantage of the monsoon rains. The Rotary club of Mumbai built check dams, stopped the water and recharged the wells. Villagers now grow three high-value cash crops annually. This prosperity enabled the community to open a clinic and launch micro-businesses – the community is at peace.
A Rotary irrigation project in Andhra Pradeshcreated harmony in the village: 5000 villagers in perpetual conflict over shortage of resources. Rotarians met with community leaders and agreed on the real needs. Result: an $80,000 irrigation scheme bringing water to 300 acres and benefitting 100 families. Peace came with Rotary intervention in a community water project.
A Rotary water-based development program in Kenyabrought peace to the region: The women of Nakuru trekked miles for water each day. The local Rotary club helped the community to launch a rainwater harvesting program. Obliged to share resources and work together, the villagers cooperated to install the systems. Harmony replaced hostility; communities are at peace.
The key to success is a bottom-up, holistic approach: Focus on helping the community, not just supplying water and sanitation. Understand and build on local culture. Involve ALL stakeholders – especially women. Empower the community. Ensure financial and technical sustainability.
You can help to bring peace to the world! Click on: www.wasrag.org Join thousands of Rotarians bringing PEACEto their communities through better management of water resources