Rotary International

Rotary Youth Services Programs

RI Water, Health, Hunger, & Solar Resource Group 

Water for Life

Water is a basic necessity for all life on earth. Access to fresh water affects the very existence of human beings and their inherent dignity. In addition, water is crucial for sustainable development, including the preservation of our natural environment and the alleviation of poverty and hunger. Water is indispensable for human health and well-being.


While 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, 97.5% of the world’s water is salt water. And m ore than 2 percent of the rest of the water is frozen in icebergs and glaciers, leaving less than 1 percent of all water available for human use.

1.2 billion people – or almost 1 out of 5 people in the world – are without access to safe drinking water and half of the world’s population lacks adequate water purification systems. In addition, 2.4 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, do not have access to adequate sanitation. In developing nations, 80% of diseases stem from consumption of and exposure to unsafe water, killing more than 25,000 people each day.

The Challenge

The poor are the ones who suffer most. Water shortages can mean long walks to fetch water, high prices to buy it, food insecurity and disease. But the very thing needed to tackle water problems in poor countries – economic development – requires yet more water to supply the agriculture and industries that drive it.

In Africa the challenge is formidable:
Ethiopia   78% lack safe water
Somalia   71%
Chad   66%
Mozambique   58%
Guinea   56%
Congo   54%
Fetching Water Time Taken

The Solution

This situation provides many openings for Rotary service. Rotarians can provide

  • The drilling and rehabilitation of wells
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Purifying water, i.e. bio-sand filters
  • Solar disinfecting (SODIS)
  • Mini-pipelines and mini-dams
  • Organizing local community in self-help projects
  • Local sanitation
  • Water conservation, and
  • Education on water.
Progress in drinking
water coverage,

Almost all of the countries not on track to reach
the MDG water target are in sub-Saharan Africa

Water Target
Progress in
sanitation coverage,

Most countries are not on track to reach
the MDG sanitation target

Sanitation Target