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.

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.


Get involved in WASH in Schools

By PDG Sandy Forster, District 5810; Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group Board of Directors

The young girl shyly holding my hand took me on a tour of her school – similar, yet strikingly different, from the schools I knew at home, half a world away. The students were eager to have a visitor and excited to show me their work. Since supplies were limited, I could see many students sharing paper, short nubby pencils and schoolbooks.

I noticed in the upper 2primary school grades, four through eight, the classrooms had fewer students, especially girls. The headmaster explained many children drop out of school, girls especially, to help their mothers bring water from creeks or rivers or because they don’t have access to bathrooms as they reach the age when menstrual cycles begin. He went on to share this particular school didn’t have a water source, nor toilets or even latrines for the students to use.

This first experience visiting a Rotarian-led water and sanitation project site has stayed with me throughout the years. WASH in School programs are vital for community development and growth. Because of these programs, we are able to see positive changes for families, villages, and nations. School dropout rates decline, health improves as fewer diseases spread, and economic growth accelerates.

1In the years following my first WASH trip, I made several more trips to this village. The homes and the school now have easy access to clean water. Toilet blocks have been built at the school and homes have added latrines with toilets. All grades are full with both boys and girls learning, and the dropout rates have declined. Children became ‘teachers’ to parents and grandparents about sanitation and hygiene. Micro businesses have grown. And it all began with water.

Now as a member of Wasrag (Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group), I have the opportunity to help other clubs and districts with their WASH projects. Wasrag has teamed up with Rotary to offer a three-part webinar series to assist clubs and districts with their WASH in Schools projects. The series will feature ideas and best practices from experts in the field to help you start or expand your projects.

Join us to learn how you can make a bigger impact in your community through WASH in Schools.

Reserve your spot now using the links below. Note that the time is Chicago time (UTC-5); convert to your local time.

Part 1: Thursday, 15 October, 10:00-11:00
An Introduction to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools

Part 2: Tuesday, 20 October, 10:00-11:00
WASH in Schools beyond toilets and tap: Behavior change through hygiene education

Part 3: Tuesday, 27 October, 10:00-11:00
Engaging your community through WASH in Schools



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 to register.

May summit to help Rotarians leverage water, sanitation, and hygiene resources

WaterSummitAd2014-webBy Steve Werner, member of Rotary Club of Denver Southeast, CO, USA, and the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group

The Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group is looking forward to our sixth World Water Summit, a one-day water, sanitation, and hygiene education (WASH) conference on May 30th in Sydney, the day before the International Convention begins. Participants will learn the latest from world experts, experienced Rotarians, and potential supporters about how to design, implement and monitor effective WASH programs. This year’s theme, collaboration, will focus on improving Rotary projects and programs by including the local community, local government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other experts.

Rotarians with varied exposure to WASH initiatives will learn new strategies and expand their service networks. Those interested in starting a WASH project for the first time will learn from experienced field experts. Rotarians with WASH project familiarity can gain new approaches to improving project sustainability while experienced participants who have implemented successful projects will connect with Rotary clubs and outside organizations to expand their project impact.

Register online today.

For a sneak preview of this year’s conference, glance through the gallery below with photos from our previous summits.

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