Water, sanitation, hygiene presentations offer assistance with Rotary projects

By Bob Wubbena, Rotary Club of Olympia, WA, USA, and immediate past vice chair of the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag)

Last month, I had the pleasure of moderating a three part webinar series hosted jointly by Rotary and Wasrag about conducting more effective water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects. Each of the webinars focused on how Rotary clubs can partner with a particular sector to find sustainable solutions for communities most in need of assistance.

We had eight excellent panelists share insight about building relationships with governments, non-governmental organizations, and private companies to undertake WASH projects. A few tips from our panelists are included below; listen to the full recordings for more advice from our experts:

Webinar 1: Working with Governments on Rotary WASH projects

  • Do your homework. Before approaching government branches about a project, familiarize yourself with government guidelines, policies, strategies, priorities and the roles and responsibilities of government departments and ministries for WASH.
  • Identify traditional authorities, leaders tied to tradition or custom, and note existing roles in the project area.
  • Work with the beneficiary community to develop a long-term sustainability framework aligned with government policies.
  • Engage governments at different levels and explore partnership opportunities with decentralized government affiliates which may be important stakeholders (these group may include agencies related to agriculture, health, environment, and more).
  • Clarify roles. Confirm with the host Rotary club and, if applicable, international club partner, the roles traditional authorities and other community groups (such as faith-based groups) will assume as part of the project team.
  • Form a local committee. A village, community, or water project committee should be established (with both women and men elected by the beneficiary community) as community representatives and point persons for the various external and governmental agencies.

Listen to the recorded presentation

Webinar 2: Working with Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) on Rotary WASH projects

  • Partner with subject matter experts. Non-governmental organizations with technical expertise provide subject area knowledge, expertise in implementation, and dedicated full-time assistance.
  • Form a local project committee. The host and, if applicable, international clubs should mobilize the community to ensure local insight is included in the project and an elected village water committee is formed. The committee helps ensure that the project is owned by the beneficiary community and the partnering NGO is there to assist in design, construction, and mentoring the committee, ensuring project longevity and sustainability
  • Clarify roles. Most NGOs have likely never worked with a partner such as Rotary who may serve as a donor but also wants to play an active role in the project design, construction, training, and longer-term oversight. Develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the roles for Rotary members, the NGO and the committee during implementation in the earliest stages of the project to ensure that their participation is adding real value to the project.

Listen to the recorded presentation

Webinar 3: Working with the Private Sector on Rotary WASH projects

  • Tap into the private sector. Private partners can provide funding, expertise, volunteers, and pro-bono services such as conducting an assessment, measurements and evaluation after a project has been implemented. Some private companies have a non-profit sub group tasked with philanthropic priorities.
  • Obtain references. Our vast Rotary network already has many strong relationships within the private sector. Network with fellow Rotary members to obtain company references for the type of work that you want to do. Ask Rotarians or Rotaractors who have these relationships to introduce you and your project.
  • Introduce yourself. There are many private sector companies that are more than willing to help Rotary. Do your homework first and then don’t hesitate to contact companies. Be specific about your needs and make sure that have well-defined expectations for each party’s role, timelines, and costs. Highlight how a partner’s supportive efforts will be recognized.
  • Sell our impact. When reaching out to private organizations that may be good potential partners, explain our global reach, grass-roots level network, passion, and commitment. These are just some of the assets Rotary brings to the table as a project partner.

Listen to the recorded presentation


Wasrag hosts an annual one-day Water Summit focused on important WASH topics immediately before the RI Convention. The 2015 Summit, focused on WASH in Schools, will be held in São Paulo on 4 June 2015. Visit www.wasrag.org to register.

An update on fighting Ebola in Liberia

By Samuel R. Enders, Rotary Club of Yonkers-East Yonkers, New York, USA

Volunteers organized by the African Dream Academy deliver containers of chlorinated water. Photo courtesy African Dream Academy

Volunteers organized by the African Dream Academy deliver containers of chlorinated water. Photo courtesy African Dream Academy

The rate of infection from Ebola in Liberia is slowly decreasing. It is a great joy to sit in my office, which is right next to the main road, and not hear every hour the sirens of pickup trucks transporting bodies to be cremated. It is a sound Liberians have come to know as the sound of sorrow.

Our campaign to prevent the spread of Ebola and save lives is now in its third phase. I am grateful to the board of the African Dream Academy, members of the Yonkers-East Yonkers Rotary Club, friends, and partners who have taken on a leadership role or assisted financially in our efforts. When others did not understand the significance of getting involved, or felt it was too far away for them to deal with, you saw the need for help and responded.

When I arrived back in Liberia in late June, I recognized the country was in a crisis. People were dying daily and health workers were abandoning their jobs for fear of their lives. The reality of the catastrophe became clear with daily news of people dropping in the streets and bleeding to death. Conveys of trucks passed by a few times every hour carrying bodies wrapped in black body bags.

The African Dream Academy took the lead and with a team of 347 volunteers, we delivered supplies and food with a donated ambulance and educated people on how to avoid infection. In the second phase of our campaign, we assembled a team of just under 600 helpers who provided more than 75 communities with gallon containers of chlorinated water, buckets, bleach, food, T-shirts, and counseling.

Our final phase involves 300 people working in 54 communities. Each volunteer is responsible for visiting 25 homes daily. Through contact tracing, we map the entire community to know all of its inhabitants, and then find out who is sick, who has died, who is left, and who is visiting. This helps reduce the spread of the disease and find adequate assistance for those in need. We also quarantine those who are sick or have been exposed to someone infected with Ebola, and provide food, medicine, water, and counseling for each family quarantined for 21 days.

We are slowly winning the battle, however there are three main problems we continue to deal with – lack of medication, hunger, and poverty. Things have gone from bad to worst with the economy; prices are rising daily.

But the success we have achieved could not have been possible without your help. Thanks for giving us hope through your support and guidance.

This post first appeared on Rotary Voices.

Rotary Friendship Exchanges build life-long friendships between Israel and Sweden

By Rotarian Ephraim Pri-Har, District 2490, Israel

RFE visiting team on their way to the Dead Sea in Israel. Photo courtesy of Ephraim Pri-Har

RFE visiting team on their way to the Dead Sea in Israel. Photo courtesy of Ephraim Pri-Har

We were approached by District 2400, Sweden, almost a year ago and, after some correspondence, agreed for their team to visit our district on a Rotary Friendship Exchange in October 2014. Given the instability in Israel earlier this year, we were uncertain whether the exchange would come through, but happily, it worked out and 11 Rotarians arrived on 21 October for a short visit.

We tried our best to show our guests as much of our country as possible during a busy five days. My club, the Rotary Club of Givatayim, hosted a welcome party in our visitors’ honor. Governor Mali Levi, District Treasurer Haim Kennet, the Mayor of Givatayim Mr. Ran Kunik, and many Rotarians from ten clubs participated in this festive evening.

The following day we visited the Dead Sea where our visitors enjoyed bathing and seeing the unique natural beauty of this area. Here they also had an opportunity to visit one of our local Rotary projects. Our guests met children from the Czech Republic who came for skin treatment, a great project made possible by Rotary clubs in Israel and our international partners in the Czech Republic.

The visiting team was hosted by the Rotary Club of Ramla, five clubs from the Haifa area, and the Nazareth Rotary Club and met many local Rotarians during their visit. As the exchange organizer, I took care that local Rotarians accompanied our guests and shared information about the interesting places they visited throughout their entire trip.

Our new friends from District 2400 sent a heartfelt note upon returning back home to Sweden:

Thank you very much for all the wonderful days in Israel! With your extensive program, we received an introduction to Christianity and the history of the Jews in a fantastic way with knowledgeable guides. I especially remember the Swedish-speaking Rabbi, the Dutch guide in Jerusalem, and the city’s unique feeling of history converging with modernism. . The bath in the Dead Sea and meeting the children and youngsters with skin diseases from the Czech Republic was also special. Your environment has proven healing power.

It was exciting to be guided in old Akko’s upper and lower town, see Caesarea, and walk around Nazareth with its churches. Capernaum, we also know from the Bible. It was wonderful to experience so much history that unites so many people and makes Israel a hub for us all.

Israel is a small country but we realised that it takes a long time to travel between the different cities. Please pass along our greeting to our driver Yair, with thanks for taking us safely on the busiest roads and guiding us through Caesarea.

The Swedish team meeting their Israeli hosts. Photo courtesy of Ephraim Pri-Har

The Swedish team meeting their Israeli hosts. Photo courtesy of Ephraim Pri-Har

We appreciated that so many Rotarians from different clubs came to meet us and that the club in Nazareth moved their meeting to Saturday for us. Last but not least, we remember with great warmth our fantastic hosts in Ramla. They did everything for us and provided us with everything we needed for each day’s activities. They hosted such a nice evening in the beautiful old city of Jaffa. What a memories!

Unfortunately, we met the hosts in Haifa and Nazareth in haste, but they showed us anyway great generosity and invited us to their homes in the best way. It would have been nice to get to know them a little more.

Thank you again for seeing us off at the airport. Now we hope that our new friends from District 2490 will come and visit us next summer. We are excited to show you our Rotary District 2400, invite you to our homes in Kristianstad and Karlskrona, and return the generosity you showed us.

On behalf of our RFE team,

Inger Hagelin

Despite being a small district, we are very glad to host a group of Rotary Friendship Exchange visitors every year and build friendships and partnerships with our Rotary peers from around the world.

Last year, we had the pleasure of hosting Rotarians from Texas, USA, and next year we plan to visit our new friends in District 2400. We look forward to continuing to share our culture, history, and projects by welcoming many more Rotarian friends to District 2490 in years to come.

Learn more about Rotary Friendship Exchanges online and contact your District Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair for information about how you can get involved.

Rotary Day Istanbul inspires the community through fitness, healthy living, and service

By Sedef Acar, Istanbul-Yenikoy Rotary Club charter club president and Rotary Day Istanbul 2014 Committee Member

In celebration of Rotary’s 110th anniversary, our club helped organized and sponsor Rotary District 2420’s Rotary Day Istanbul on 19 October. Family, friends, and the community participated in fun activities including sports, concerts, food, and games while learning about the Rotary family’s dedication to improving lives around the world.

Our event motto, “Light Up with Health”, encouraged healthy activities and a healthful lifestyle. RI President Gary C.K. Huang start the day by firing a starting pistol at the 5km run/walk. Participants then joined cross fit, zumba, yoga, and dance activities with professional trainers.
We had arts and crafts activities for children and musical performances for all ages. All event participants could also take advantage of free breast or prostate exams at the local hospital.

We raised US $9000 for the PolioPlus fund at our Rotary Day event and met our district governor’s challenge to collect 100,000 books to donate to libraries throughout Turkey. We were honored to have RI President Huang join us for the celebration as we introduced our family, friends, and community to the many service activities Rotarians undertake and how together we “Light Up Humanity”. Browse through the photo gallery below for a glimpse of our Rotary Day Istanbul activities:

Lifecycle of a service project webinar lessons: Part 5

10 tips for monitoring, evaluating, and promoting service project

webinar5By Hilary Leav, Rotary Strategy, Research & Evaluation staff

In general, there are a few key principles to understanding monitoring and evaluation and establishing a good plan.

Part 5 of the Lifecycle of a Service Project webinar series focused on helping the Rotary family compare project goals, evaluate service successes and challenges and maximize sustainability, and promote successful initiatives. Watch a recording of the webinar and read these practical tips to help find project support:

  1. Rotarian Tristam J. stresses that evaluation is never meant to judge people or their actions. It is simply a tool that can help everyone stay on track, shift if necessary to alternative strategies, modify outcomes and redesign resource commitments.
  2. Rotarian Terry Z. says good communication with the group being impacted by the project is key to successful monitoring and evaluation.
  3. Don’t wait to develop your monitoring and evaluation plan until the end of the project. Start thinking about measurement when conducting the needs assessment.  What will success look like and how you will know if you have achieved the results intended as part of the project?  You can then be sure that as you design the project, the proper components are in place to track the results over time and determine if you are making progress or whether adjustments to the project are necessary.
  4. When designing your plan, remember that less is more, particularly if you are just starting out in monitoring and evaluation. Monitoring is simply active involvement in the project’s implementation, making sure that the objectives are being met on the established schedule; evaluation is checking your success against those objectives. Stick to basic, easy to count measures, such as total number of direct beneficiaries, number of teachers trained, or number of wells dug to track your projects. These tangible items are the easiest to track achievement on. Just make sure you do not double count!
  5. Make sure the measures track your progress against your main project objectives. A good monitoring and evaluation plan does not seek to track everything, but rather to highlight success in a few key areas – perhaps more importantly, the most successful projects and monitoring and evaluation plans keep a modest scope!
  6. Your proposed measures should tie directly with your project’s anticipated impact. For example, if you hosted training workshops with primary school teachers and provided new teaching materials for them to implement new teaching methods, it may be interesting to show that attendance increased as a result of your project, but if your goal was to train teachers and provide materials, it may not be necessary to track attendance for this specific project.
  7. Try to identify and track quality measures. Counting activities and participants is a good place to start, but does not necessarily show the quality of the project being implemented. Measures that track increased knowledge, increased capacity for work or income generation, or documented decreased incidence of water-borne diseases are examples of quality measures. A good monitoring and evaluation plan, particularly for a Rotary Foundation funded project, will include financial resources specifically dedicated to monitoring and evaluation. Budget to contract industry professionals that will help you monitor the project as you’re working on it and evaluate it once to assess whether your goals have been met. Rotary does not expect Rotarians to become experts in monitoring and evaluation, just as Rotary does not expect Rotarians to become experts in drilling wells for a water project.
  8. It’s perfectly acceptable – even encouraged – to find local experts to assist you in collecting this information. In many cases, this may be a cooperating organization that you are partnering with. As long as you have ready access to the information and are actively part of the planning and implementation process, use the experts as needed!
  9. Share your story. Promote your success on Rotary Showcase, through local media channels, and online via blogs, websites, and social media.
  10. Use your story as a marketing tool for your service project. If people see and hear your story and are inspired by the impact you’ve made, they’ll be more likely to support your future service projects. Remember: your images and words are your club’s personal brand.

Visit My Rotary for additional project lifecycle resources.

Ugandan club’s Rotary Day brings the community together with fun and entertainment

Julie Kamuzze-Musoke

Julie Kamuzze-Musoke

By Julie Kamuzze-Musoke, Rotary Club of Kasangati, Uganda

On Saturday, October 11, our club held a Rotary Day at Kaggo Ssaza Grounds, an outdoor public venue in Kasangati, Uganda. This special event coincided with our club’s 12th charter anniversary. We were inspired by RI President Gary Huang’s call for clubs to Light Up Rotary by engaging non-Rotarians and encouraging them to consider membership in Rotary.

We organized the day in partnership with local authorities and organizations, including Centenary Bank Limited, Equity Bank, UgaChick, Shell Gayaza, Gifted Hands, Peter’s, and TTB Investments. Unlike our normal charter celebrations, which feature a nighttime bazaar, this year we added a variety of daytime activities including a bicycle race, a community march, football and netball matches, children’s entertainment, and public induction of new members.

The day started off with a bicycle race which was flagged off by our own President Florence Kanyike. The Red Cross Band then led Rotarians and other community members to a 5 kilometer march around the community.  The footballers and netballers warmed up for their matches accompanied by Rotary music. Our Interactors manned the bazaar which offered used but usable items at fair prices. The guest of honor was Assistant Governor Fabian Kaasi from the Rotary Club of Kiwatule and the Managing Director of Centenary Bank Limited. In his remarks AG Kaasi applauded our club for setting the record number of Rotary activities hosted in a Ugandan Rotary Day event. Several participants walked away with special prizes.

Later in the day, our club celebrated its charter night graced by IPDG Emmanuel Katongole, who congratulated our club for the day’s activities.  He also inducted two new members into our club.

With all these fun activities, our Rotary Day will be a day to remember for everyone who participated.  Enjoy these pictures of our successes as we continue to Light Up Rotary.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Honoring World Food Day through the Rotary network

By Zuhal Sharp, Rotary Programs staff

Rotarian gleaningOn 16 October, World Food Day, Rotary had the privilege of hosting a Twitter chat with prominent food experts to exchange ideas on effectively addressing hunger, malnutrition, and food waste. Experts from Rotary First Harvest, the Global FoodBanking Network, and the Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group provided great insight, shared best practices from the field, and linked us with useful resources. Active participants from around the world highlighted Rotarian and Rotaractor successful hunger and food initiatives.

It’s not too late to get involved!

  • Review highlights from the 16 October World Food Day Twitter chat and share your own experience with hunger relief efforts in the comments section below.
  • Browse Rotary Showcase for inspirational Rotary projects addressing hunger and malnutrition.
  • Join the discussion group on hunger in Rotary’s online community.

Lifecycle of a service project webinar lessons: Part 4

Implementing service projects

serviceproject_webinargraphic_EN-04By Kathryn Nichols, Rotary Learning & Development staff

Part 4 of the Lifecycle of a Service Project webinar series provides helpful project management and implementation suggestions to help keep your project on track. Watch a recording of the webinar and read these practical tips:

  1. Delegate tasks to a skilled project team and select an organized project manager to keep the team on track and guide project implementation.
  2. Webinar panelists Rotarian Heather Frankle and Rotarian David Bobanick encourage project leaders to promote collaborations. Frankle recommends reaching consensus on decisions from the onset to create a cohesive project team.
  3. Design and stick to a communication plan when working with partners to keep everyone talking and informed. Schedule frequent check-ins with project partners. If working with international partners, host regular conference calls to ensure everyone is well informed.
  4. “Budget expenses slightly higher and income slightly lower than expected to help cushion any unexpected financial challenges” says Rotarian Bobanick.
  5. Involve project partners with different skills and specific responsibilities to build stronger teams and foster more idea sharing.
  6. Keep detailed records of project expenses and achievements. This is important for any project, but especially those that have received global grants spanning multiple years. Rotarian Bobanick encourages establishing a tracking system to oversee volunteer involvement, finances, and project progress.
  7. Make volunteer experiences fun, meaningful, and inclusive. Invite new or prospective members to participate in a service project and experience Rotary outside of a meeting environment.
  8. Measure baseline data, define benchmarks for success, and measure outcomes, to track the progress and success of a project.
  9. Share project reports and budget information with project partners and recipients on a quarterly or semi-annual basis.
  10. Not everything in a project will go smoothly. Maintain a sense of humor and engage in creative thinking when challenges present themselves.

Visit My Rotary for additional project lifecycle resources.

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.