Beer lovers brew up plan to provide access to clean water

Thousands of Rotary members gathered in Atlanta this week for the 2017 Rotary International Convention to make new friends and find inspiration while attending exciting events and celebrating The Rotary Foundation’s 100 years of Doing Good in the World.

In the House of Friendship, members had the opportunity to network with fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors, Rotary’s partners, service projects, and learn from the expertise of Rotarian Action Groups, as well as enjoy the passion and hobbies of Rotary Fellowships.

Beers Rotarians Enjoy Worldwidewater (BREW) were pouring free samples at their booth! The fellowship combines service and a shared love of beer. The group has recently finalized an agreement to donate 25 percent of their membership dues and any money they raise through fundraisers to the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, which will apply the funds to service projects that provide clean water.

“It’s great to know that you can drink a beer, and do good at the same time,” said Steven Lack, a member of the Rotary Club of Pleasant Hill, California, USA, and co-chair of the fellowship.

This story was featured on the live coverage of the 2017 Rotary Convention. Follow the coverage to find photos, videos, live blog posts, speeches, and more. And share your convention experience on social media with #Rotary17.


Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

Making a splash on World Water Day!

By the Water and & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag)

Today, World Water Day, is a wonderful opportunity to take a look back at the goals Rotary members have achieved in the Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. Founded in 2007, the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag) strived to reach the Millennium Development Goal’s target of reducing the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 50% by the year 2015.  Rotary members around the world played a significant role in meeting that ambition goal, five years ahead of schedule.

But, nearly 663,000 million people lack access to safe water.* There is still much work to be done. The new Sustainable Development Goal 6 is calling for action to ensure everyone has access to water and sanitation by 2030.

Join WASH-minded Rotarians in meeting the water challenge, providing sanitation and most importantly – adopting proper hygiene practices. Rotary is leading the charge in many areas, including:

  • Rotary’s WASH in Schools Target Challenge: a pilot program to develop sustainable WASH and education projects in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Kenya.
  • Partnering with the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement sustainable, long-term projects to improve water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and the Philippines.
  • Providing clean, safe water to every public school in Lebanon, so students can be healthier and be able to focus on their education.
  • A major program in Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, to rehabilitate old water points and build new ones. The project also includes construction of a number of public latrines in schools, markets and health centers.

These are just a few examples of the many Rotary projects focused on WASH! Make this World Water Day the day you commit to joining Rotary’s water team by taking action. Contact us at or learn more at

Join the global celebration by using #WorldWaterDay to share messages about Rotary Water and Sanitation initiatives on social media.

* Source:

World Water Summit

Are you attending the 2017 Rotary International Convention? Come early and join us for Wasrag’s Annual World Water Summit! The 2017 summit will focus on WASH and Women – A Brighter Future.

Hear first-hand the stories of women in the developing world and how access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene has transformed their lives. Learn about the challenges they faced and how Rotary helped along the way.

Stay for the afternoon workshops which will be focused on global grants, behavior change strategies, choosing the best technology for your project, engaging with communities, gender issues, and approaches to menstrual hygiene management.

Date: Friday, 9 June, 2017
Location: Georgia World Congress Center
Time: 8:30 – 12:30
Register today!

Planning successful water and sanitation projects

By Carolyn Crowley Meub, former member of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag) Board and Executive Director of Pure Water for the World, an organization started by the Brattleboro, Vermont Rotary Club

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Gwynn, Rotary’s Area of Focus Manager for Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) about the components of a successful global grant. During our interview, we didn’t just discuss global grants. We spoke during the holiday season, when food is part of many conversations. It was for this reason that Erica and I first started discussing cooking and favorite recipes.

As we moved onto the real purpose of the conversation, we discussed how recipes and global grants are similar. Both require time, the proper tools, and need to have all the key ingredients before you begin. When one cooks or bakes, we envision the end result. When designing a water and sanitation project, there are necessary steps to be taken and key programmatic elements are needed.  We must start with the end in mind.

Carolyn: What is the unique perspective Rotary members bring to global WASH projects?

Erica: Rotarians bring a unique perspective to the project that non-government organizations cannot. Rotarians have relationships with local leaders, and they know the needs and capacity of the community. Understanding the local culture, water sources and availability, and community resources are critical to the success of the project. Rotarians are key to the design, planning and forecasting.  The more we see local Rotarians’ involvement, the greater chance for the grant being approved.

Carolyn: What are the key ingredients in successful and sustainable WASH projects?


  1. Engagement with the community from the beginning to end – from the needs assessment phase, to post-completion monitoring and evaluation phase.
  2. Engage with other organizations and local or regional governments. There needs to be integration with other existing programs. Rotary-funded programs are part of the greater whole, and there should a collaborative effort made with other entities. Rotarians need to be at the table with other organizations to address the WASH needs and the solutions.

Rotarians cannot work in isolation. We know that the “Rotary Bubble” is not sustainable.  We need to expand upon the other work that has been done in the area as to not be a “one-off” project.

Carolyn: How else can Rotary members get involved within the WASH sector?

Erica: I believe the strength of Rotary is the advocacy role they offer, that can influence decision-makers with making real systemic changes in the role of governments. Rotarians are in a unique position, as they have great and extensive networks. Rotarians have changed national agendas.

Read the complete interview on the Wasrag blog.

Wasrag is an international group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants and alumni with expertise and passion in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Wasrag advises on club and district WASH projects while offering a wealth of resources for enhancing initiatives. Visit to access resources, become a member, or request assistance.


  • Read more stories about water and sanitation projects to gain inspiration for club and district service projects.

From “over there” to “over here” – access to toilets changes lives

 By Clem van den Bersselaar, member of Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay (Philippines)

If you ask a Filipino living in a rural area of the Philippines where they go to the toilet, they will turn their head towards a non-specific direction and say “over there.” This means that they use any location that gives them some sort of privacy to do their needs. Women generally have to go longer distances to avoid prying eyes and avoid assaults. In fact, when one talks to local community health workers about the risks of open defecation, they tell you about parasitic and bacterial infections while also emphasizing the high percentage of women being molested or harassed.

In November 2013, part of the Leyte province in the Philippines was hit by the devastating typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst typhoon affecting 25 million people and claiming nearly 6000 lives while leaving tremendous damage throughout the island.

Immediately after the typhoon, Rotary clubs from various countries came to the rescue. Local clubs responded with food supplies and worked with NGOs to begin rebuilding homes. Once immediate relief was provided, the focus shifted to meet sanitary requirements in restoring water supply and the construction of toilet facilities.

The Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay identified the WAND Foundation (Water, Agro-forestry, Nutrition and Development) as having the expertise to construct 20,000 latrines together with various NGO’s immediately after the typhoon in the province of Samar in the Philippines. WAND Foundation’s previous contacts with the Malmö (Sweden) International Rotary Club, provided a natural connection to propose this project at the 8th Multi Club Workshop (MCW) held in Ischia, Italy.  The project was accepted by the MCW and the partners applied for a global grant, which was approved in February 2016.  Seven Rotary clubs and three districts from Italy, the Philippines and Sweden contributed to the US $52,000 project.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The project included constructing 222 toilets in various barangays, six rainwater collectors, seven communal handwashing stations, 20 biosand filters, and community-led training seminars for the beneficiary communities. As a result, this project has provided nearly 1100 people with access to proper toilet facilities and almost 600 people now have a regular supply of clean water. The community-led training seminar included a series of group discussions and a workshop to demonstrate which practices can prevent water contamination and to recognize the interconnection of water, sanitation and hygiene. We also discussed the medical costs related to open defecation in order to help the community understand how much money is spent on treating illnesses resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene.

We are happy to report the beneficiary communities have not had a single case of parasitic or diarrheal infections since the project was completed. Now when asked where they go to the toilet, the proud community members say “over here”!

Looking for international projects to support? Attend the 2017 Multi-Club Workshop in London, England. The 11th annual event will take place 6-10 September. Learn more about the workshop and visit their website for more information! 



Take action during Rotary Water and Sanitation Month!

By Rotary Service and Engagement Staff 

Clean water and sanitation is a human right, but not everyone is afforded that right. Rotary members are providing communities with sustainable access to safe water, improved sanitation, hygiene management training. When people, especially children, have access to clean water, improved sanitation facilitates, and better hygiene habits, they lead healthier and more successful lives.

During March, Rotary Water and Sanitation Month, we encourage members to work towards Rotary’s goal of providing everyone with safe water, sanitation, and hygiene by 2030. Here are just a few examples of club service projects that are working towards that goal:

  • In Nepal, the Rotary Club of Durbarmarg collaborated with their twin club and the Rotaract Clubs of Phulbari and Eco-Himal Nepal, to provide access to safe drinking water for students at a government school. Students were drinking visibly contaminated, untreated water directly from the water source. Rotary members installed 14 low-cost colloidal silver-enhanced ceramic water filters with strong filtration systems. These filters were manufactured locally, and are a traditional practice in availing safe drinking water to those lacking access.
  • In the Philippines, the Rotary Club of Lubang Island trained mothers and children living in rural mountain areas on proper handwashing and sanitation methods. The community was getting their water from a local river and not washing their hands regularly. Club members trained the community how to keep their hands clean while conserving water.
  • In Nigeria, the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology lacked sufficient toilets on campus, leaving students to rush home to use the toilet. The Rotaract Club of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomosho decided to renovate an abandoned restroom on campus by adding access to water from the school reservoir, and cleaning up and painting the entire block of three male and three female compartments. The restroom was then handed over to school management for maintenance.
  • The Rotary Club Loja Los Zarzas in Ecuador aimed to provide safe water in the province of Loja to improve the living conditions of 50 rural families. Members installed a small pumping system powered by a solar panel, a distribution tank, a basic sanitary unit (shower, hand basin and toilet), a wastewater treatment system, and then implemented an organic family garden irrigated by gray water.
  • In India, the village of Kolawade was consuming unsafe water delivered by a rusted 40-year-old water pipeline. The Rotary Clubs of Pune Central and Pune Kothrud came together to provide a new pipeline for the village, allowing 1200 villagers to have access to clean and safe water.

How is your club and district providing access to water and sanitation? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Post your club’s project on Rotary Showcase and join the conversation in My Rotary’s discussion groups. Read more stories about water and sanitation projects to gain inspiration for club and district service projects.


Promote the importance of global sanitation and hygiene on World Toilet Day

By the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag)

Sanitation has been a focus for Rotary since it’s early years. In fact, the very first Rotary service project, implemented in 1907 in Chicago, was the construction of public toilets (often referred to as comfort stations during that time)! In the early years of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, our focus was on just water. Today, we know sanitation and hygiene education is just as important, maybe even more so.

Everyone visits the toilet several times a day. It’s a basic human need, but 2.4 billion people don’t have access to a toilet. The impact of inadequate or no sanitation is devastating, especially on women. One in three women worldwide risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. Nearly 526 million women have no choice but to go to the toilet in the open. Women and girls living without toilets spend approximately 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go.

Today, World Toilet Day, take action and help us spread the word. Encourage your club and district to get involved by supporting a sanitation project:

  • Find a project on Wasrag’s website or Rotary Ideas
  • Share about projects you have already implemented on Rotary Showcase
  • Read the Guide to WASH in Schools to learn about creating healthier communities while improving school enrollment and attendance by bringing sanitation and hygiene services to schools
  • Organize a water, sanitation, or hygiene (WASH) education project in your community. Contact us for help conducting a community assessment to determine local WASH priorities, or for help developing and implementing a club or district WASH project

Wasrag is an international group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants and alumni with expertise and passion in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Wasrag advises on club and district WASH projects while offering a wealth of resources for enhancing initiatives. Visit to access resources, become a member, or request assistance.




Making a sustainable splash at the Rotary International Convention

By the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag)

As we quickly approach the Rotary International Convention, the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag) is reflecting on the past seven years hosting our annual World Water Summit preceding the convention.

The yearly event has helped us explore important themes within Rotary’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) area of focus, forge service partnerships, exchange challenges and project success stories, build lifelong friendships, and recommit our efforts to addressing one of the world’s most pressing concerns: universal reliable access to clean water and sanitation.

If you’ll be in Seoul, Korea, for the 2016 RI Convention, join us on Friday, 27 May, for the 8th annual World Water Summit where we’ll explore the theme Sustainable Strategies; Sustainable Solutions within the WASH sector.  Register today to secure your spot and take advantage of early bird registration fees. Like Wasrag on Facebook for the latest updates on the World Water Summit.


Wasrag is an RI Board recognized group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants and alumni with an expertise and passion in water, sanitation, and hygiene. Wasrag advises on club and district water, sanitation, and hygiene projects while offering a wealth of resources for enhancing Rotarian and Rotaractor-led projects. Visit to access resources, become a member, or request assistance.


Collaborate with Rotary partners to further your Water and Sanitation projects

By Chandra Palmer, Rotary International Area of Focus Coordinator

Throughout the developing world, access to clean water and sanitation is far from common. Rotarians work with cooperating organizations to create lasting, positive change through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives.

Since 2009, Rotary International has been partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on an International H2O Collaboration in targeted countries to help both organizations take advantage of their unique strengths to improve social and economic conditions in developing countries. For Rotary, this partnership is an opportunity to tap into our global network to support projects that provide access to clean water and improved sanitation. For USAID, it’s a chance to advance the Water and Development Strategy Plan by giving Rotary members and their partners the technical support needed to design and carry out WASH initiatives.

20090407_UG_387By promoting local solutions to address community needs, the collaboration is creating a process that can be replicated in communities worldwide. In 2015 the collaboration initiated activities in two project countries: Uganda and Ghana. Between 2015 and 2018, the collaboration has committed $4 million to each country to support WASH initiatives.

Here are a few examples of the collaboration in action:

  • In March 2016, it was announced Ugandan Rotarians will begin planning activities with USAID Mission-Uganda. It is anticipated a strategic planning session for Uganda will be held in the summer of 2016.
  • In April 2015, Ghanaian Rotarians, Global Communities (USAID’s implementing partner) and USAID Mission-Ghana began discussions with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (the government agency in charge of rural water and sanitation in Ghana). 13 districts in Ghana have been selected and approximately 130 communities have been earmarked for WASH service interventions. Project implementation is anticipated to start in May 2016.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, the Rotary Club of Accra East in Ghana, with support from clubs in the U.S., worked with the collaboration to provide WASH services to more than 100 rural communities. WASH projects included constructing ventilated pit latrines and pour-flush or flush toilets, and providing hygiene education.
  • Rotary clubs in the Dominican Republic worked with Save the Children, ENTRENA, and Mujeres en Desarrollo Dominicana to install more than 6,700 household water treatment and safe storage systems, along with other WASH activities. ENTRENA also developed an education program to train community facilitators how to install, operate, and maintain filters and to promote hygiene. In turn, the facilitators shared their knowledge in their communities to ensure ongoing support of WASH initiatives.
  • In the Philippines, nearly 11 million people lack access to improved sanitation, and an additional 60 million people rely on sanitation systems that are poorly maintained and unsafe. Rotary clubs throughout the Philippines and other nongovernmental agencies supported hygiene training, rural water supply, wastewater treatment and management activities at five sites in Luzon and Mindanao.

Even if your club or district isn’t in a project country, you can still support a project as an international sponsor. International sponsors work with a host club or district in areas where the collaboration is supporting projects. Contact to learn more.



Educating future water leaders through Rotary’s partnership with UNESCO-IHE

By Ir. H.J. Kloosterman, Rotary Host Area Coordinator of the UNESCO-IHE Scholarship program

My Rotary life suddenly changed in late 2011 when then Trustee of the Rotary Foundation, Steve Brown, dropped me an email saying he was coming to the Netherlands to talk to UNESCO-IHE. I knew Steve from his involvement in efforts to start Rotary in Afghanistan and the Sultanate of Oman (where I lived at the time), and now I suddenly found out that Steve was involved in setting up a partnership between The Rotary Foundation and UNESCO-IHE, the world’s largest postgraduate water education facility, located in Delft, Netherlands.

At that time I knew very little about UNESCO-IHE, but quickly learned about this vibrant and multi-cultural centre of excellence on water education. What struck me here was not only Rotary’s commitment to provide funding to support UNESCO-IHE students in their 18 month graduate studies in Water Management and Sanitation, but also to ensure ample support from both the sponsoring Rotary clubs in their home countries, as well as from the local clubs in the Netherlands during their stay abroad.

The second batch of Rotary sponsored UNESCO-IHE students and their Dutch Rotary host counselors celebrate the successful completion of the 18 month “Water Management and Sanitation” MS program at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands.
Rotary sponsored UNESCO-IHE students and their Dutch Rotary host counselors celebrate the successful completion of the 18 month UNESCO-IHE scholarship program in Delft, the Netherlands.

This for me is Rotary at its best: a combination of Rotary funding whilst leveraging the Rotary network to ensure the scholarships deliver tangible results. Since the start of the program, more than 50 UNESCO-IHE scholars from 29 countries have been sponsored. This relates to an investment of more than USD $1.6 million by Rotary, money very well spent. The first two groups of 24 students have graduated, 80% of them have returned home and are working in the water sector and applying their new skills.

It is extremely gratifying to see the energy and drive of these highly motivated and intelligent students, fully committed to raise the standards of water sanitation in their home country upon graduation The scholarship program is a very nice and hands-on example of Rotary Serving Humanity and I am honored and feel very proud to be associated with this program, it has enriched my life!

Visit the UNESCO-IHE website for more information and like them on Facebook for the latest updates.



Take the plunge, it’s World Water Day!

By Rebeca Mendoza, Rotary International Regional Grants Officer

Today, World Water Day, is dedicated to learning more about water related issues, sharing our individual stories and projects, and taking action to make a difference. Nearly 1.5 billion people work in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on the safe delivery of water. The theme for World Water Day 2016— water and jobs — focuses on how access to sufficient quantities and adequate quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods – and transform societies and economies.*

Cimenagraph_ghanaRotarians are working hard to improve lives through clean water. As a Regional Grants Officer for District 9211, which consists of Uganda and Tanzania, I receive a high volume of applications for Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) grants.  While WASH initiatives in this region vary by location, many of them consist of providing wells and rainwater harvesting, improving sanitation, and many are WASH in schools projects. In honor of World Water Day, I hope the following responses to two common questions about WASH grants help your club and district strengthen your water and sanitation projects:

What are the most important components of water and sanitation projects?

The strongest WASH grant applications include a thorough community assessment that consists of an evaluation of the communities, their assets, and their priorities. This assessment may be done through discussions or surveys, but the most important thing is that an open dialogue is carried out with not just the sponsors, but with the local community members.

For all of these projects, we suggest starting with a detailed implementation schedule that lists infrastructure activities (e.g., constructing latrines) and their duration, training activities, and monitoring and evaluation activities. Rotarians will often provide descriptions of the environment in grant applications, as well as water statistics. While this is great information, it is not sufficient because it does not specify how the proposed technologies and interventions were selected and why the selected technologies/interventions are best for the particular community.

What makes a project sustainable?

One of the most important components of a WASH project is the training and outreach to complement the systems being implemented. The kind of training will vary by project type, but some sort of training is always required to make the project sustainable.

In my opinion, this is where Rotarian involvement matters most. The training provides an opportunity not only to share important information about best WASH practices, but also helps establish lasting connections with the communities in which these projects are taking place. Some of the best projects I see have substantial training and outreach by Rotarians and the outcomes show that this makes a huge difference in the project’s long-term success.

Traditional charity and aid alone will not solve the problems caused by poverty but building relationships and empowering communities will transform communities. Rotarians have a contagious enthusiasm for doing good in the world. The projects I see that have significant Rotarian involvement spread this positive outlook and enthusiasm throughout communities. I know you can’t measure these things, but I’d like to argue that these experiences, filled with passion and dedication, lead to long-term sustainability. Community members feel empowered by being able to take part in solving their own challenges; empower community members eagerly go on to help others.

Water is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development. If you are planning a WASH project, consider the impact you can make beyond the provision of water supply.

Join the #WorldWaterDay celebration by using #WaterIs to share messages about #Rotary Water and Sanitation initiatives on Twitter and Facebook.

*[United Nation’s World Water Day website]