More and more Rotarians are heeding the call to address one of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges: unsafe drinking water. Access to safe water is a fundamental human need, and in many minds, a fundamental human right. Closely aligned is the need for adequate sanitation. All too often human waste is contaminating drinking water in developing nations and threatening the lives of millions – especially children. Fetching water from increasingly distant sources also uses up the lion’s share of time and energy for millions of rural women.
All of this is an outrageous waste for humankind. It’s linked to numerous diseases and dangerous pathogens, including the poliovirus. Rotarians have joined under the Wasrag (Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group) banner to meet the challenge. But, we need many skills and a wide range of talents if we are to succeed.
In the past identifying and harnessing these skills has been difficult, but the emergence of the internet, social media and “apps” is changing the world. Now we can have Rotary eClubs, uniting Rotarians electronically wherever Rotary exists.
District 9980 (southernmost New Zealand) has been researching the feasibility of a global WASH eClub to focus and link WASH skills from around the world. Enthusiastic support is coming from Past Rotary International President and current Wasrag Chair Bill Boyd, and Dr. Nicholas Mancus, who is currently managing a major WASH program in Uganda. The club will retain many of a traditional club’s characteristics – but one of the biggest challenges will be maintaining the fellowship and spirit that is the heart of Rotary.
The District is very fortunate in having the support of University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic researchers, whose sophisticated IT expertise, united with Rotary’s humanitarian skills, will be an enormous asset for the new club.
The first step will be to form a “New Club Sponsorship” working team. The board members of all new clubs, including eClubs, need mentoring in their early days so they can get up-to-speed as quickly as possible. With the right guidance, we hope to have the new eClub up and running within the year.
NOTE: While all kinds of interests might drive someone to join WASRAG, Rotary’s WASH eClub 9980 is a global online eClub (meeting live weekly once fully approved, just as other Rotary clubs do). It is likely most attractive to those who wish to be (or become) Rotarians acting principally in support of Rotary’s global WASH efforts (….and most WASH eClub members will choose to also be WASRAG members, since we mainly exist to support WASRAG concretely). Compared to the great variety of guest speaker topics and local and national projects dealt with via weekly meetings of traditional Rotary clubs, this WASH eClub will connect its members with highly-accomplished specialists speaking on overseas aid-related topics and public health topics (….but in clear layman’s terms). Likewise, unlike the extraordinary variety of projects operating inside a typical Rotary club, this WASH eClub will align its projects and fund-raising (including its student scholarship funding) to aid-work and aid-research principally helping global WASH efforts in austere settings. These settings are well-illustrated in the TEDx Talk by Dr. Ron Denham, WASRAG Chair Emeritus. His TEDx Talk (see StartWithWater) is highly-recommended to all who seek a brief introduction to the WASH challenge globally. Dr. Denham, and very likely all WASRAG leaders, encourage continuation of Rotary’s broad fund-raising efforts for a wide variety of aid-projects and student scholarships. But many of us feel Rotary also needs a global Rotary Club focused on attracting more talents specific to Rotary’s WASH efforts, and supporting more research-student scholarships focused on WASH talent needs or the needs of Rotary’s WASH volunteers in austere field settings.
Further details will be forthcoming on this website. However, in the interim, please feel free to email questions about Rotary’s WASH e-Club to firstname.lastname@example.org