Rotary International Is Scaling Up Its WASH Work

Rotary International recently announced that it's joining forces with ONE DROP to launch the 2020 Water Partnership. Rotary International became heavily involved in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) efforts in 2007 when it founded the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, or Wasrag.

ONE DROP is a WASH outfit established by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte and operates out of Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

To kick off the partnership, Rotary and ONE DROP will initially raise $5 million each. The funds will go toward sustainable water and sanitation programs to benefit countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Once each organization reaches its $5 million individual fundraising goal, ONE DROP and Rotary will put forth a joint effort to raise an additional $10 million to form the 2020 Water Fund.

The inaugural 2020 Water Fund program will begin in the African nation of Mali, a country in which nearly 5 million people do not have access to safe water and 80 percent of the population does not have access to adequate sanitation.

Over the years, ONE DROP has benefitted from partnerships with Oxfam, the Royal Bank of Canada, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. And while those partnerships have allowed the organization to forward its water sustainability and access efforts in countries like Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Honduras and India, according to Catherine Bachand, CEO of ONE DROP, the organization was “determined to increase the scale and impact of our work through strategic partnerships.”

With its over 1 million members and 34,000 clubs worldwide, Rotary International seems like a pretty good choice to help ONE DROP reach its scaling goals.

When Rotary International established Wasrag in 2007, with the primary goal of achieving the Millennium Development goal of reducing the number of people lacking access to safe water and sanitation by 50 percent, it referred to itself as "the hidden giant in the struggle to solve the water and sanitation challenge.”

Whether this is true or not in regard to WASH issues, Rotary has certainly been a force in polio eradication, contributing over $1.2 billion since 1985 with ongoing plans to raise $35 million a year through 2018 toward the elimination of the disease. Rotary also has some heavy-hitting partners in its polio eradication efforts, including UNICEF, the Gates Foundation and the WHO.

In touting its newly formed partnership with ONE DROP, a Rotary leader referred to its success on polio:

Rotary created a partnership to eradicate polio. We are now putting that experience towards solving the water and sanitation crisis.

Related: Behind the Rotarian Contribution for Polio Eradication