Upcoming webinar series will help you make a greater impact with your water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects

By Bill Boyd, Past President of Rotary International and Chair of the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag)

Past RI President Bill Boyd addressing 2012 World Water Summit participants.

Past Rotary International President Bill Boyd addressing 2012 World Water Summit participants.

Dear Friends,

All of us who have an interest in water, sanitation and hygiene realize that the needs of much of the world can only be addressed by targeted and well thought out projects and programs.

History tells us that an unacceptable percentage of well-intentioned activities fail and this is simply not good enough. There are limited resources and they need to be used effectively.

That’s why Rotary and Wasrag are pleased to host a three part webinar series to share knowledge and strategies for conducting more effective WASH projects. Better knowledge leads to better projects and none of us know it all. Every opportunity to share our experiences with others opens us the chance for us to learn as well.

The webinar series will share lessons learned at the May 2014 World Water Summit in Sydney, Australia, which focused on the topic of collaboration with governments, NGOs and the private sector. The summit provided excellent information, opened up new conversations, and gave participants the opportunity to exchange ideas through workshops. If you weren’t able to attend the summit in person, these webinars are a great opportunity for you to interact with WASH industry experts and experienced Rotary project leaders.

I urge you to participate in the webinars not just for what you can learn but also for what you can contribute.

Best wishes,


Register to attend the World Water e-Summit series using the links below (you must register separately for each webinar in the series). Registration is free!

Learn more about Wasrag, including plans for the next World Water Summit in São Paulo, Brazil on 4 June 2015. The theme will be “WASH in Schools.”

Biking across America to raise awareness about hunger and food waste

By Benjamin Rasmus, Rotary Club of Seattle-International District, Washington, USA; Program Director at Rotary First Harvest

This past summer I biked across the United States with Heather Hoffman to raise awareness about hunger and food waste. I work at Rotary First Harvest – a program of Rotary District 5030 (Seattle, USA) that combats hunger and reduces food waste. In my role as the Director of our Harvest Against Hunger program, I have a front-row seat to see how hunger directly impacts some 50 million Americans. The position also allows me to see how much food, especially fresh produce, is wasted domestically every year. The majority of such food does not need to be wasted. Instead, it could go to hungry bellies of those in need. Heather and I embarked on this 4,000 mile adventure to see how hunger and food waste are impacting communities from Seattle to Washington DC. We also wanted to learn what people and organizations are doing to fight hunger and reduce food waste.

Harvest VISTA at Hopelink in Carnation. Photo courtesy of Rotary First Harvest.

Harvest VISTA gleaning project at Hopelink in Carnation, Washington. Photo courtesy of Rotary First Harvest.

During Bike Against Hunger, we saw tremendous energy and enthusiasm, especially from young adults, who are exploring creative approaches to crack the contradiction of hunger and food waste. Harvest Against Hunger (HAH) hires recent college graduates for placements as AmeriCorps*VISTA members in communities to start or sustain local produce-recovery projects. We see this energy very clearly with HAH, and saw similar excitement with organizations like the Campus Kitchens Project and Food Recovery Network that engage college students and the Food Rescue Alliance that uses bicycles (bicycles!) for just-in-time distribution.

Highlight from Chicago, connecting with Rotary International for Bike Against Hunger

Bike Against Hunger zoomed into the Windy City in early August after cruising from Omaha to Chicago in six days. We averaged 90 miles per day during this stretch, our fastest pace of the summer. We made the push in order to arrive in Chicago for an amazing event Rotary International organized, which highlighted urban farming and gardening in Chicago’s South Side with Growing Home and I Grow Chicago. The video at the top of this post does a phenomenal job showcasing our bike ride from Evanston to the Englewood neighborhood. More than 20 staff joined us on the ride, including RI General Secretary John Hewko and his wife Marga, who are both avid cyclists. David Bobanick, the Executive Director of Rotary First Harvest also participated in the event.

This day of Bike Against Hunger crystalized the real and beneficial impact of urban agriculture and how it can rally a community around larger issues, such as poverty, access to healthy food, violence prevention and employment opportunities. The most common sentiment from participants (myself included) on the bike ride was surprise. Surprise that organizations like Rotary International, Growing Home and I Grow Chicago have amazing individuals committed to improving the lives of others. Surprise that many people who live in Chicago never set foot in the changing landscape of the Englewood neighborhood. Surprise to see how urban farming is sprouting change block by block in Chicago’s South Side.

Bike Against Hunger illustrated that hunger and food waste is an issue in America and will continue to be for the near future. However, people across the country, and the world, are doing amazing work to address this topic. I feel fortunate to be part of this growing movement to learn, share and mobilize efforts to fight hunger and food waste.


In honor of World Food Day, participate in a Rotary Twitter Chat with leading foodbanking and anti-hunger organizations, including Rotary First Harvest. Sign on to Twitter today, 16 October, from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Chicago time (UTC-5) and search for the hashtag #RotaryHunger

Ben and Heather leading a group of Rotary staff on a bike ride from Evanston to the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, IL.

Benjamin and Heather leading a group of Rotary staff on a bike ride from Evanston to the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, IL.

World Food Day 2014: Feeding the World. Caring for the Earth.

Rotary International and The Global FoodBanking Network Fight Hunger and Food Waste

Craig Nemitz visits fellow Rotarians in Taipei, Taiwan.

Craig Nemitz (left) visits fellow Rotarians in Taipei, Taiwan.

By: Craig A. Nemitz, Ph.D. (h.c.) Director of Field Services, The Global FoodBanking Network; Charter Member of the Channahon/Minooka Rotary Club, Illinois, USA

16 October, World Food Day, is a day for people and organizations to come together to create awareness, share ideas, educate others and simply get to work to fight hunger. This year, World Food Day spotlights the connection between hungry people, food waste and the environment. That’s something that we think about every day at The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN).

There are 805 million hungry people in this world and there is enough food to feed all of them. The sad truth is that 1/3 of all food produced for humans is lost or wasted. So, it never nourishes a hungry person. Instead, much of this food goes to landfill where it very quickly produces ozone-destroying methane gas. Food banking is a solution to the problems of hunger and food waste. Food banks rescue food before it goes to waste and distribute it to hungry people through a network of service organizations.

Rotary and GFN have been service partners for the past three years. As a long-time Rotarian and a longer-time food banker, I know that working together we can – and do – make a real difference globally and in local communities.

Many of you already support our mission of alleviating hunger and reducing food waste. Individual Rotarians and local clubs have made a real difference by helping food banks around the world, including food banks in the GFN network. Here are a few examples:

  1. Craig (right) visits and Manual Alejandro de la O, Executive Director of Banco de Alimentos El Salvador.

    Craig (right) visits and Manual Alejandro De La O, Executive Director of Banco de Alimentos El Salvador.

    Hong Kong: Members of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong participate in Feeding Hong Kong’s regular Bread Run. Volunteers collect unsold bread from bakeries and food stores and deliver it to charities that serve people in need.

  2. El Salvador: Rotarians from the Club Rotario San Salvador Noroeste in El Salvador provide leadership guidance to The Asociacion Civil Alimentos Solidarios, the country’s national food bank network. Several Rotarians serve on the food bank’s board of directors and all Club members have participated in fund and awareness raising events.
  3. Taiwan: I just returned from a trip to Taiwan and had the chance to talk about food banking to members of the Rotary Club in Taipei Dazhi. I was pleased to hear that the club, which is 40 members strong, has fully committed to supporting our member food bank, the Taiwan People’s Food Bank Association.

On this World Food Day, we at GFN and I as a fellow Rotarian, encourage all of you to help make the world a better place by supporting food banking. Together we will “Change Lives” and Light Up Rotary.

Please visit our website for more information and tools to help you get involved: http://www.foodbanking.org

For more information about the Rotary-GFN partnership, read this one page overview and watch a recording of the Join the Global Fight Against Hunger and Malnutrition webinar.

World Food Day is 16 October. Participate in a Rotary Twitter Chat with leading foodbanking and anti-hunger organizations, including The Global FoodBanking Network. Sign on to Twitter from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Chicago time (UTC-5) and search for the hashtag #RotaryHunger

Rotarian-built network eliminates food waste, feeds hungry neighbors

By David Bobanick, Mercer Island Rotary Club, Washington, USA; Chair of the Hunger & Malnutrition Rotarian Action Group; Executive Director of Rotary First Harvest

Since joining Rotary First Harvest – a program of Rotary District 5030 (USA) in 2001, I have had the unique opportunity to help expand this program’s strategic impact at the local and national level. Through the dedicated efforts of hundreds of monthly volunteers, we’ve been able to quadruple the amount of produce collected and distributed annually. With the dual goal of reducing hunger and food waste, Rotary First Harvest connects farmers, truckers, food bank and volunteers to reduce hunger-related malnutrition.

Rotary First Harvest is a program of District 5030 that connects farmers, truckers, volunteers and foodbanks to feed hungry families healthy food in Washington State.

Rotary First Harvest is a program of District 5030 that connects farmers, truckers, volunteers and foodbanks to feed hungry families healthy food in Washington State.

Hybrid strategies to meet community needs
Rotary First Harvest works on two levels – one large scale and one local – to divert millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables from food waste to the hands of those in need. At each level, Rotary members play a crucial role in connecting existing resources within their community:

  •  Core work: First, we find truckload-sized donations at large growers and packing houses. Next, we locate donated trucking to haul the produce to a distribution center where it is shared with local hunger relief programs. At each stage, Rotarians and Rotarian-owned businesses are directly involved.
  • Harvest Against Hunger: To capture smaller donations from small and mid-size farms, Rotary First Harvest created a program that places AmeriCorps*VISTA (similar to Peace Corps) members in smaller communities. Those VISTA then connect local farms and gardens with hunger programs and volunteer groups to create thriving produce recovery programs. Through these partnerships, deep and sustainable connections are made that will deliver fresh produce to those in need well into the future.

Connecting and Collaborating
Rotary First Harvest is highly collaborative. We don’t duplicate services or resources.  Instead, we find innovative ways to connect or improve existing efforts. We firmly believe in using our resources to transform the weakest link in the food chain into the strongest.

Over 143 Rotarians, Rotary Youth Exchange students, Rotaractors, Interactors and community volunteers celebrate packaging 47,000 pounds fresh produce in one day. This fresh food will be delivered to a local foodbank. These activiites are organized and funded by Rotary First Harvest, a program of District 5030, connecting farmers, truckers, volunteers and foodbanks to feed hungry families healthy food in Washington State.

Over 143 Rotarians, Rotary Youth Exchange students, Rotaractors, Interactors and community volunteers celebrate packaging 47,000 pounds fresh produce in one day. This fresh food will be delivered to a local foodbank.

Hands-on Service
Twice a month, Rotarians from across District 5030 invite friends and family to help repack some of the millions of pounds of apples, potatoes, carrots, peas and other items Rotary First Harvest receives in bulk. These work parties serve as a simple yet powerful example of Rotary activity in our community.

The Power of Rotary
Like any Rotary project, Rotary First Harvest started with one Rotarian (Norm Hillis) with a great idea for how to help others. Other Rotarians then provided their resources and expertise to help the idea grow and flourish.  It’s a simple formula that continues to improve lives each and every day.

World Food Day is 16 October. Participate in a Rotary Twitter Chat with leading foodbanking and anti-hunger organizations, including Rotary First Harvest. Sign on to Twitter from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Chicago time (UTC-5) and search for the hashtag #RotaryHunger

Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

Your club decides to send four members to a conference on fundraising techniques for humanitarian projects being held in New York City. All the members pool their resources to cover the expenses for the four during their three days at the conference. As the club treasurer, you review the members’ receipts after they return in order to reimburse them for airfare, lodging, registration fees, and meals. You notice that two of the four were careless with their purchases, using taxis instead of public transportation, dining at expensive restaurants, and adding unnecessary room charges to their hotel bill.

What do you do?

Lifecycle of a service project webinar lessons: Part 3

10 tips for securing resources for a successful service project

serviceproject_webinargraphic_EN-03By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs staff

Imagine this scenario: your club has conducted a community assessment and identified which needs should be targeted through a service project, you have put together a project plan, and now you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get started. Where and how do you begin to fundraise? How do you find a global grants partner? How do you best recruit volunteers? Where do you find knowledgeable subject matter experts that can lend a hand and guide you along the way?

Part 3 of the Lifecycle of a Service Project webinar series focused on helping the Rotary family acquire project resources to carry out impactful and sustainable initiatives. Watch a recording of the webinar and read these practical tips to help find project support:

  1. Start locally. Webinar panelist PDG Ron Denham urges clubs and districts to first look for resources within the local community. Whether searching for funding, skilled volunteers, in-kind donations, or partnerships, there is a chance that the local community has the resources that are needed to help implement the project. And when the local community invests resources in a project, it is also more likely to remain involved for many years after the project has been implemented to ensure long-term success.
  2. Explore Rotary Grant options. Rotary Grants may be available to help fund Rotary clubs’ and districts’ service projects.
  3. Crowdsource for support. Rotary’s crowdsourcing platform, Rotary Ideas, makes it easy for Rotary clubs to request small contributions from a wide network. Clubs post their project in need of assistance and then share the listing with their digital networks through social media, blogs, emails, and websites. Contributors can support projects directly through the tool and need not be part of the Rotary family.
  4. Organize a Rotary Community Corpsa group of local people in the community who are not members of Rotary but work closely with their sponsoring Rotary club to assist with projects. These groups help mobilize a community, ensure local culture and customs are captured in activities, and help ensure that local needs are met.
  5. Consult a Rotarian Action Groups. These groups consist of members of the Rotary family and provide technical expertise on service projects within a particular area of focus. Currently 18 Rotarian Action Groups exist to help clubs and districts conduct needs assessments, incorporate monitoring and evaluation components, and even secure funding.
  6. Build partnerships. “Partnerships provide expertise, local knowledge, insights into the local culture and values, and they provide a means of accessing local resources to provide training and know-how” PDG Denham says. Take the time to build meaningful partnerships, particularly at the local level, for assistance with resources, sustainability, technical expertise, and project longevity.
  7. Consult a district leader. Every year, district governors appoint district leaders to lead service committees and assist club and district level humanitarian initiatives.
  8. Network at Rotary events. Many partnerships begin with a face-to-face meeting at a Rotary event: the annual Rotary International Convention, International Assembly, regional project fair, zone or district event, or while traveling and meeting with Rotary clubs. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by!
  9. Engage young professionals. Rotarian Thuso G. also reminds us that “involving [youth and young professionals] brings energy and chances of continuity.” Young professionals also have innovative ideas to securing project needs and implementing projects.
  10. Remain transparent. Open, consistent communication is key to building relationships and acquiring needed resources. Rotarian Jannine B. urges project coordinators to “keep everyone involved in the loop so avoid duplication of effort and things don’t slip through the crack”.

Visit My Rotary for additional project lifecycle resources.

Living “Service Above Self” in Kenya

By Dickson Mugendi David Ntwiga, President of the Rotary Club of Meru, Kenya

Club wheelchair donation to a Polio survivor from Meru County

Club wheelchair donation to a Polio survivor from Meru County, Kenya

As we prepare to celebrate our eighth anniversary this year, the Rotary Club of Meru looks back at the journey traveled so far with enthusiasm and hope for the future. The positive impact our club has made in the Meru community (and the country at large) is in itself a reason to be optimistic about tomorrow.

“I find myself thinking about the work of Rotary all the time,” says Dr Gaitho, our club’s immediate past president. “It would be selfish of me to expect somebody else to relieve the human suffering that one might find anywhere, any day.”

Moreover, he adds with a big smile on his face, “the club’s motto is very clear about that: selfless service today, the hope of humanity tomorrow.”

Our water catchment and water harvesting projects in remote areas such as Tharaka and Kachiuru improved the locals’ health, enhanced food security and positively impacted school performance in the region. Rotarian Julius Mungania, who comes from the area, says that “before Rotary brought the water project here most children used to spend the entire day searching for water, thereby missing their classes—something that adversely affected the overall performance of most schools.” But now the situation is different. For example, Kamariru and Gachaine Primary Schools have seen their mean overall scores improve drastically: up from 250 before the projects to more than 350 marks after the completion of these projects.


Rotary Club of Meru donates sanitary towels to women in Meru Prison, Kenya

Our club also worked to serve in places normally considered highly sensitive and out of bounds to the public: for example, a Kenyan prison. Through the help of Rotarian Eva Wambugu, a Judicial Officer at the Meru Law Courts, we paid a visit to the inmates of Meru Women’s Prison in 2013. Songs, dances and poems by the inmates marked the occasion—mostly in praise of Rotary or about their hope for the future. As part of our Sun Shine Rallies, we provide a host of supplies like milk powder, food, soaps, sanitary napkins, and clothing to vulnerable groups in the society, including these prisoners.

On a Friday evening, 5:30 p.m., our club holds its usual weekly meetings at the Meru Sports Club. And today the discussion takes our members to a project in a remote land miles and miles away from the comfort zone of the city.

“The journey is going to be long and tedious,” advises Past President Gatobu, who has participated in a similar activity in the past.  “It is a dangerous expedition as well–there are many bandits in the area.” And as expected, in the spirit of” service above self,” the motion carries the day. The group is now mandated to take health care services to a disfranchised population about 80 kilometers away from Meru town.

Rotarians assists with medical camp activity at Kachiuru, Meru County, Kenya

Rotarians assists with medical camp activity at Kachiuru, Meru County, Kenya

While the journey proved difficult, the endless testimonies of people like Mrs. Habiba Jillo, one of the beneficiaries of the Kachiuru Medical Camp and a mother of seven, inspire us to continue Rotary’s life-saving work in Meru and beyond

“I can’t imagine what tomorrow would be like had you not come to our aid; my whole family had not accessed a quality health care for more than 10 years.”

Throughout most communities in Kenya, women serve as breadwinners. The Rotary Club of Meru is currently looking for partners to implement two projects for local women empowerment. The first project focuses on social-economic empowerment through a revolving loan fund and the second will establish a Girl Education Action Institute for vulnerable girls on the streets of Meru and Tharaka-Nithi Counties. For more information, see the project listing on Rotary Ideas and contact the Rotary Club of Meru President Dickson Mugendi David Ntwiga at ddntwiga@rotarymeru.com“.