Water is Life, Clean Water is Peace.
March 31, 2021

Dear Peacebuilders,

Why is water and sanitation one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus?

How can access to clean water and sanitation empower women and children?

How can our efforts to provide water and sanitation support the process of peacebuilding?

Rotary founder Paul Harris said, “Perhaps dreaming is not so bad if one dreams good dreams and makes them come true.” Rotary’s dream and mission is to serve humanity. Providing access to clean water and sanitation for the most vulnerable communities brings life and is essential to making all of our dreams come true.  

Water is life, health, hygiene, and fundamental dignity. To fulfill our dream of Water and Sanitation for all, here are some of the statistics from Rotary and World Health Organization (WHO) that we as Rotarians and peacebuilders should consider:

  • 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, a segment almost twice as large as the entire population of China.
  • 1,400 children die each day from diseases caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water. That is over half a million children per year.
  • 748 million people do not have clean drinking water, twice the population of the United States.

Contaminated water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene are connected to the spread of preventable diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Poorly managed water and sanitation services directly increase preventable health risks in disadvantaged communities.  According to WHO, diarrhea is responsible for the annual deaths of nearly 300,000 children under age five. These deaths can be avoided when we provide clean water systems and access to proper sanitation. Rotarians save millions of lives by providing education, hygiene, and sanitation. When Rotarians act to provide educational support on proper handwashing to vulnerable communities, we reduce diarrhea cases by up to 35 percent.  

Every day, women in poor communities must make impossible choices  - death or disease - due to shortages of water, or water from contaminated sources. Fetching water is a critical task often assigned to women in their communities. Women in parts of rural Africa spend six hours a day collecting water from remote sources; this is nearly a full day's work for most women in urban societies.  The distance, effort, and time women spend to collect water negatively impacts their full potential to access education, sustain their family economically, and spend quality time with their families. 

Here is the story of Grace, a woman from Ethiopia who struggled to have her pregnancy last to term. Grace was concerned that the burden of carrying water would jeopardize the ability to carry her baby to birth. To reduce the weight, she had to make more trips and carry less water. When she told her story to the humanitarian organization ‘Water’ she described her walks as “hot and uncomfortable.” The story of Grace is the story of millions of women who are impacted on a daily basis by the issue of access to clean water.

In addition to safe water, a private toilet in the home or school provides a safe and private sanitation space to women and children, which is essential to empowering them to live fully without fear. How can women and children be empowered to focus on fulfilling their human potential when the natural necessity of using a toilet presents the risk of facing unsafe situations each time? Clean water and sanitation are major contributors to women and children’s safety, health, education, and dignity.  For example, when girls reach their menstrual age, they need clean water and private sanitation in order to continue attending school.

Access to clean water and sanitation, especially for women and children, is key to reducing Peace Inequality and Opens Opportunities for them to improve their lives and their communities. Women and children are the population that often is most vulnerable and primarily impacted by a lack of access to safe water and sanitation. The water and sanitation crisis emphasizes the geographic, sociocultural, and economic inequalities suffered by women and children. When we provide clean water and sanitation, we not only alleviate the consequences of these inequalities, but also reverse them. Women become more equipped to contribute to their families' income and children are able to attend school and focus on learning.

Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer and Time Magazines 1998 Inaugural Hero of the Year, said, "No water, no life. No blue, no green." In Rotary, we dream about a dignified life for all and for a green and peaceful planet.

Take Action for Peace,

Reem Ghunaim 

Executive Director 

Water is Life, Clean Water is Peace

March celebrates the Rotary month of Clean Water & Sanitation. As we covered in last month's newsletter, Peace is at the center of all Rotary Areas of Focus, so in this month's issue, we will be connecting the dots to some of the many ways Peace is at the core of all service projects that encompass clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. 

In this newsletter, you will be inspired by Peace Fellows, Rotarians, and peacebuilders who are dedicated to building peace through clean water and sanitation projects. Featured in this newsletter, is Peace Fellow, Muyatwa Sitali, and his article on the inequality of women in rural regions collecting water for their families. Continue reading to learn about the Rotarian collaboration with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, as well as the District 5020's project, Dignity Toilets for Togo.

Be inspired and discover the many ways you and your club can get involved in a clean water and sanitation project for lasting peace. 


Take action for Peace today by becoming a member of RAGFP. Join the network of thousands of peacebuilders around the world who are passionate about making peace an international reality. 

Become a Member of RAGFP
2021 Peace Dove Gala


The 2021 Peace Dove Gala is a celebration of the impact of collective peace action cultivated and elevated by peacebuilders from around the world.  The Peace Dove Gala is a welcoming occasion for Rotarians, Rotaractors, Peace Fellows, Clubs, and the global peace community to be inspired by the Peace Doves who are dedicated to making peace a reality for all.
The 2021 Peace Dove Gala recognizes that everyone is a peacebuilder. It is through all of our collective actions, big and small, that create a lasting impact on global peace. As a participant, you will be a part of a historic celebration united with a global community dedicated to collective peace action. Witness the energy and commitment to peace by joining our monumental occasion recognizing the global effort to making positive peace accessible to all.  

Check out our flyers and images to promote the 2021 Peace Dove Gala with your Rotary networks, family, and peacebuilder friends on our website. 

Celebrate the global impact of our collective peace action

Wednesday, June 30, 2021
5:00 pm PDT

The 2021 Peace Dove Gala is open to all and admission is free. Donations are encouraged to help support the mission of RAGFP and our future peace initiatives.

Visit our website to learn more about the 2021 Peace Dove Gala. 
Learn more about the Peace Dove Gala
Call for Peace Dove Nominations

A RAGFP Peace Dove is a person or group who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to maximizing peacebuilding impact for communities most in need. They are peacebuilders with the unique combination of creative ideas, strategic use of resources, and wholehearted compassion to make peace accessible to the most vulnerable. Peace Doves go above and beyond to accomplish positive peace by enhancing the systems, structures, and attitudes that contribute to a community’s resilience to peace inequality manifested by conflict, oppression, or poverty. 

Peace Doves cultivate a peace mindset that transforms into peace action. The Peace Dove advances their creative ideas for peace by engaging, educating, and empowering communities worldwide to create a lasting impact for peace. The work of Peace Doves
.reminds us that Peace is Possible

Nominate a Rotarian, Rotaractor, Peace Fellow, Peacebuilder Club, or non-Rotarian Peacebuilder today who you believe embodies the spirit of a RAGFP Peace Dove.
Nominate a Peace Dove
Water is Dignity

Learn about the determination of Rotary Peace Fellow, Muyatwa Sitali, to enhance dignity through clean water and sanitation facilities to communities who need it most. 
About Muyatwa Sitali

Muyatwa Sitali is a RAGFP Peace Fellow alumni who grew up on a small farm in Zambia. Throughout his upbringing, he lived the reality of relying on the river, the soil, and the few resources available to compete against the regional large-scale farming practices. After witnessing the connection of poverty and disease to communities lacking access to clean water and sanitation, he knew that he had a duty to serve. 

Muyatwa is now the current Program Specialist for Sanitation and Water for all, a global platform by UNICEF to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for the world's most vulnerable communities. He works with the macro-systems, partnering with organizations, governments, and nations to create sustainable programs and initiatives to help over 3 billion people gain access to clean water and healthy sanitation systems around the globe. 

Learn more about Muyatwa's journey and dedication to peacebuilding through water and sanitation by listening to his interview with Reem Ghunaim on his episode of Together for Peace below. 

Muyatwa Sitali is a Zambian Rotary Peace Fellow who works as the Program Specialist for Sanitation and Water for All by UNICEF. Watch Muyatwa's episode to learn more about why he believes "water is dignity."
Read Muyatwa's latest article below on the inequal reality of vulnerable communities relying on women and girls to collect water. Article originally published on Linkedin, March 8, 2021 by Muyatwa Sitali. 

Women and girls
confronting the inequality of collecting water

Imagine a world where tens of millions of women and girls spend hours collecting water every day. Collectively, isn’t that a colossal amount of time spent going back and forth to the water source? What would they do if that time was freed up? More studying, perhaps for the girls, or they can use the time being just what they have to be - children. Instead, their days are spent walking miles and miles to ensure life’s basic need is met. Equally, women could use this valuable time for more economic activities. 

This image is not implausible given that women and girls spend 200 million hours collecting water.  What’s also true is that most of these women are in low-income, poor, and rural as well as some urban communities.  Each one of them can spend anywhere from half an hour to several hours a day trekking to and from the water supply source. 

Women and girls face the brunt of responsibilities when it comes to sourcing and securing the water needs of families. It is women and girls who have to give up their time, walk untold distances - sometimes face risks of rape or other forms of attack. Even when the water is brought to the house, it is often women and girls who have to ensure it is kept safe for human consumption- ensuring it is chlorinated when necessary and making sure it is kept covered at all times to avoid dirt from contaminating it. In this way, women and girls are responsible for a large part of the gamut of household water supply from the collection, transportation, storage to supervising its use. 

The time this takes is insurmountable- 200 million hours for collection and transportation alone. If this burden was put on one woman and she started the journey in 1 AD with a bucket of water on her head, she would still not have reached her destination yet, with at least 20,000 more years to go. Yet the world has come so far with technological and resource advancements. Simply put the practice of fetching water robs our women and girls many precious hours each day, and like many advancements we have made, water supply and sanitation services need to catch up. The opportunity cost is too huge to ignore. 

Today, while we honor the women and girls at the forefront of the water crisis, we should realize that, if not resolved, climate change will make this worse and the economic and health crisis created by COVID19 are also likely to complicate this situation. 

We honor the strength and resilience of women and we should take their hard work as a call to action for a world with water, sanitation, and hygiene services for all. 

Water is Essential to Basic Human Rights

See what Rotarians are doing to make clean water and sanitation accessible to communities across boundaries. 
Access to clean water is essential to obtain basic Human Rights. Clean water connects all of our collective humanity. Because water is essential to all living things, it is our duty as peacebuilders to do our part to maintain and provide clean water to all.

Continue reading below to learn more about how Rotarians from across borders are working together to create peace through clean water and sanitation projects. 
Mississippi River Project
A Cooperative Coalition between Rotarians, Mayors, and communities.  

The Mississippi River is a major waterway that over 20 million people and 50 cities rely on for drinking water and/or power manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture.  The Mississippi River transports 40% of our global food supply, and 60% of the world's grain supply, making the basin the #1 food producer on Earth. 

Jill Pietrusinski was attending the Montgomery, Alabama 2018 Zone Institute Meeting. when she heard Ambassador Andrew Young talk about the coalition of mayors along the Mississippi River. These mayors formed a network called the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) to do public and private infrastructure and service projects with the communities along the river to better protect it from erosion and pollution. The MRCTI coalition inspired Jill to think about all the service projects the Rotary Clubs along the river could contribute to the cause. 

The Mississippi River Mayors and Rotary International came together to restore the natural and built infrastructure of the Mississippi River Corridor to enhance community resilience across several state lines.  With a Rotary Club in nearly every Mississippi River city that belongs to the MRCTI, the partnership was a perfect match. Rotary Clubs along the Mississippi River are currently working with local mayors to identify scalable projects that can turn into Global Grants and collaborating with partners such as UN Environmental Protection (UNEP), Water and Sanitation Hygiene Rotary Action Group (WASHRAG), Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (ESRAG), and American Cruise Lines. 

One of the many service projects involved collaboration and partnership with the University of Georgia and a UNEP grant to create a smartphone app.  This app is called the Marine Debris Tracker, an online open data citizen scientist tool used to track the type of trash and debris collected in or near waterways. Rotary Clubs in Minnesota, Missouri, and Louisiana, lead several community cleanup efforts utilizing the new app, collecting over 15,000 pieces of debris along the Mississippi River to date.

The coalition has also partnered with American Queen Riverboat Company to establish a community outreach cruise from Louisville, Kentucky to St.Louis, Missouri. This cruise would consist of 8 stops with a Rotary coordinated service project at each port to engage guests and crew with completing service projects at the communities they dock at. This initiative would bring guests closer to the communities and inspire them to protect the river that cruise utilizes for leisure. 

Learn more about the Rotary & MRCTI partnership on WASHRAG's website or connect with them on Facebook.

If your club wants to get involved with a river clean-up project in your area or around the world, reach out to Cleaning the Rivers of the World. Cleaning the Rivers of the World is an initiative started by the Rotary Club of South Ukiah and Rotarian, Salvador Rico. Learn more about how Salvador Rico is helping communities gain access to clean water to live their basic Human Rights by watching our first Together for Peace episode.

Salvador Rico spearheaded the successful Cleaning the Rivers of the World initiative with the Rotary Club of South Ukiah. Learn more about Salvador's commitment to improving clean water and environmental stewardship, one river clean up at a time. 

Dignity Toilets for Togo

Seven Rotary Clubs in the Olympic Peninsula District 5020 are working together to support a global grant called Dignity Toilets for Togo. The lead club, the Rotary Club of Nor'wester, has been heavily involved in supporting this project to improve access to sanitation in Togo. 

Rotarian, Doc Reiss visited the village of Zogbedgi in 2014, noticing the discrepancy of resources such as electricity and running water. The village is close to the ocean, so the water table (about 6-8 feet underground) is salinated, making it only suitable for bathing and washing clothing. Because of this, the local communities rely on purchasing potable drinking water from the government. Most everyone in the village has no access to bathroom facilities, so most relieve themselves in a nearby field or forest. 

Doc became committed to finding a solution to build bathroom facilities for the dignity of the community without using the scarce freshwater supply. He became close to members of the community and learned that the village flooded frequently, ruling out standard septic systems or latrines to be used in this region. 

Together, locals and Doc soon came up with the idea to create waterproof composting toilets made out of cement. The first pair was a side-by-side squat toilet with two waterproof chambers, each covered by a large metal plate in the black. Soon after they were set up in the village, several inquiries came along about how others could get a composting toilet for their family. 

Not only was this project focused on clean water and sanitation, but also encompasses economic development for the local community. In Togo, families used to be very large due to shorter life expectancies. With medical advancement and increased medical accessibility to the region, child mortality rates have lowered dramatically. Today, there is an abundance of adults in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who are looking for sustainable employment. Doc decided to set up a local company and employ local workers in the village.

Dignity Toilets are pairs of composting toilets build with community labor and resources for each family or organization. One composting toilet is used at a time while the other composts. Each pair costs about $400 USD in labor and materials and are built to improve groundwater cleanliness, the health, and the safety of the family who uses it

Dignity Toilets bring dignity to the community by allowing locals a clean, private place to use the restroom that does not impede on their fragile water sources. This project is a prime example of how a peace project can combine Clean Water & Sanitation, Environmental Sustainability, and the Economic Development Rotary Areas of Focus to build resilience within a community. 

 To learn more about this global grant, please visit their website and contact the Nor'Wester Rotary Club of Port Angeles or the Rotary Club of East Jefferson County

Take Action for Water and Peace

Take action for peace with Rotarians and Peacebuilders to help provide clean water and sanitation to vulnerable communities around the world. 

Rotary Projects in search of support: 

Potable Water Supply using Sky Hydrant
Help 668 students and teachers in the Philippines gain access to clean water through a gravity-fed filtration system. This project aims to build and install a water reservoir at a spring about 500 meters from the local high school. The water from the catchment and reservoir would run through the main pipeline to the storage tank and into a sky hydrant filtration system. Learn more.

Water Project for Santa Barbara, Honduras
Rotary Club of Nelson, BC, has a global grant to construct a pipeline from a local cistern located in Comunidad Las Galeras in Santa Barbara, Honduras. The pipeline will be 7.2 kilometers long and will be suspended above the forest floor, laid on the forest floor, and attached to local bridges and river crossings as necessary. The water will flow based on gravity and will cost approximately $115,000 USD. Learn more. 

Developing School Sanitation Facilities
The Rotary Club of Baroda, India, and the Rotary Club of Chicago Heights - Park Forest, USA have teamed together to complete a Global Grant project to build toilet blocks and hand wash facilities in 12 schools. Over 2100 children in India will be directly affected by the new sanitation facilities. Learn more.

We want your Peace Projects!
Peace requires our collective action. Share your next peace project with RAGFP by using our Projects Page. Your peace project will be posted on our website and may have the opportunity to be shared on our social media and newsletter channels. 

If you're not a RAGFP member, join us today to share your Peace Project on our website.
Post your Peace Project
Inspiration and Resources to start your own peace and water project

Clean a local waterway
Use the
Marine Debris Tracker with your Rotary Club to document the trash and debris you collect at your next river, lake, or beach clean.

Partner with WASHRAG 

WASHRAG has lots of resources and toolkits for projects and initiatives surrounding hand hygiene, creating sustainable water projects, and sanitation procedures for your club to use. 

am Up with Cleaning the River of the World
Rotary Club of South Ukiah started the 
Cleaning the Rivers of the World initiative. Join the global initiative to clean all the rivers with Salvador Rico and the South Ukiah Rotary Club. 

Read the RAGFP's Activate Positive Peace Workbook
Learn about all 8 Positive Peace Pillars analyzed using real Rotarian peace projects from around the world. Presented at Geneva Peace Week, Rotary Conference 2019, and the Rotarian Positive Peace Incubator, this
workbook will guide you to building positive peace in your community and beyond. 

Learn about UN Sustainable Development Goal #6
Use the
UN's many resources and their "Envision 2030" targets as guides to support your next clean water and sanitation project. 

Connect with UNICEF's Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene initiatives

UNICEF works in over 100 countries to help provide access to clean water and reliable sanitation and to promote basic hygiene practice in vulnerable communities. Partner with UNICEF in your next Clean Water and Sanitation project. 
Join RAGFP friend and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Scilla Elworthy, in the Mighty Heart Open Course. 

In honor of International Woman's Day, the RAGFP invites you to learn from one of the most phenomenal female peacebuilders of our time, Dr. Scilla Elworthy. Scilla is a dear friend of the RAGFP and interviewee of the Together for Peace series. Learn from Scilla's mighty heart by taking her Mighty Heart course to evolve your peacebuilding skills, this September. 

* * *

The Mighty Heart Open Course invites you to learn from peacebuilders and experts in service of some of the most challenging conflicts around the world. They will help you become a more effective changemaker by transforming conflicts and crises that may be internal, at family, organizational,  or even at the national level. We combine two streams of wisdom:
  1. Profound knowledge and training in the practical skills of conflict transformation.
  2. Decades of peacebuilding experience and expertise.
The Open Course is for people of any age and background who want to build a safer world – whether in their personal life or globally. Over 10-weeks, starting September 7th, 2021 and continuing every Tuesday 14.0 - 15.30 GMT, we meet in weekly workshops, delivered by different peacebuilders and experts from the field. You also get to work with other participants in triads. The course provides you with the skills and tools to meet and transform whatever conflict or crisis you're facing. You will receive videos and notes of inspiration every week and exclusive access to the latest version of the Mighty Heart workbook. On graduation, you're invited to join our community of change-makers meeting once a month and apply for the facilitator training to deliver the Mighty Heart with us.

You can learn more about Scilla's Mighty Heart through her journey as a peacebuilder by listening to the living room conversation with RAGFP's Executive Director on Together for Peace.
Register for the Mighty Heart Open Course
Rotary & the United Nations: Together in History
Celebrating 75 Years of Join International Service 

The United Nations (UN) serves as a global forum where countries raise and discuss the most difficult issues, including problems of health, climate, education and peace. Since helping to charter the United Nations in 1945, Rotary members and the United Nations have worked together toward peace and addressing humanitarian issues worldwide.

On 10 April 2021, join the #75yearsofaction livestream illuminating the shared values of the United Nations and Rotary- a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change. Together, we will celebrate Rotary members’ lasting support of the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The livestream premiere of reflections and flash talks will feature first-hand personal and professional experiences of Rotarians, Rotaractors, and officials from United Nations operations in Geneva, Nairobi, New York City, Paris, Rome, and beyond. Notable guests will include: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Téa Leoni; Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General António Guterres; RIPN Jennifer Jones; RID/Incoming RIVP Valarie Wafer;  First Rotary Club President Sylvia Whitlock; and Past TRF Trustee and RAGFP's past Board Chair Carolyn Jones. 

Celebrate 75 Years of Rotary & the UN
RAGFP, Rotary, and Peace Event Calendar
April 6th
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (UN)

April 7th
World Health Day

April 10th
Celebrating 75 Years of Joint International Service

April 22nd
International Mother Earth Day

April 24th
International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace
April 25th
World Malaria Day

May 3rd
World Press Freedom Day

May 16th
International Day of Living Together in Peace

May 20th
World Bee Day

May 29th
International Day of UN Peacekeepers

June 30th
2021 RAGFP Peace Dove Gala
Clean Water is Peace
Join and donate to Rotary Action Group for Peace to help us engage, empower and educate Rotarian peacebuilders around the world. Thank you for your support!
Happy International Day of Peace
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