Partnership to Address Emergency Need for Safe Water and Clean Sanitation, As Well As Long-Term Health and Development of Families.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy today announced the creation of a joint initiative that will bring safe drinking water and sanitation systems to children and families affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
The Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund, a joint project of the Clinton Foundation and UNICEF, will strengthen UNICEF’s efforts to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases in tsunami-ravaged areas. The partnership is a response to and a part of the nationwide fundraising initiative launched last week by U.S. President George Bush and former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton in support of relief and reconstruction activities in areas devastated by the tsunami.
“I applaud President Clinton for this extraordinary philanthropic leadership,” Bellamy said Monday, launching the fund at a press conference at UNICEF House in New York with the former president. “The tsunami has shown us how water can take lives; this initiative will demonstrate how water can save lives.”
With water supply systems contaminated and in many cases destroyed by the flood waters of the tsunami, millions of people lack safe water and are at risk of potentially deadly water-borne diseases like cholera and diarrhea, Bellamy said. Children, who make up at least one-third of the overall population in the worst-affected countries, are particularly vulnerable to water-borne diseases.
“We have identified the provision of clean water and adequate sanitation as both an urgent and long-term need in many of the places struck by the tsunami. Clean water is, of course, the source of all life; without it, people cannot survive. And sanitation is essential if we are to avoid the spread of disease in communities made vulnerable by the damage caused by the tidal forces that struck them so suddenly just two weeks ago,” President Clinton said. “I appreciate having this opportunity to expand the work of my Foundation with UNICEF, which has a great record of response to humanitarian crises, especially in the provision of care to children.”
People interested in donating to the Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund can access it via the Clinton Foundation website, www.clintonfoundation.org, as well as at www.unicefusa.org. Donations can also be made by calling toll free 1-866-725-9849.
The fund will enable UNICEF to continue and expand its provision of safe water, water purification tablets and “household water kits” containing water containers, soap and buckets for washing to millions of people affected by the tsunami. It will finance the construction of emergency latrines and the rehabilitation of urban and rural water supply systems, with a priority for hospitals, health centers and schools, as well as provide equipment to construct basic sanitation facilities.
Between $20 and $50 can pay for the construction of one emergency temporary latrine. Approximately $100 will cover the costs of building a durable family latrine with a five-year life span for five people. Roughly $1000 will cover the construction costs, excluding heavy tools, to rehabilitate one hand-dug well that could provide 20 litres of water per day for approximately 200 to 500 people.
Once immediate life-threatening humanitarian needs are met, the Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund will help the affected governments with longer-term management of water supply and sanitation systems, including such things as well digging and permanent latrine construction, especially in schools and health centers. The fund will also support hygiene education and promotion in schools and community groups.
The region affected by the tsunami is home to many of the world’s poorest children, a significant proportion of whom were living without access to safe water and sanitation even before the waves hit. Many of them have been left weak and malnourished by repeated bouts of diarrhea and other water and sanitation-related illnesses.
“Safe water is a key to sustainable development,” Bellamy said. “Children cannot grow up healthy and strong and communities cannot thrive without safe water and sanitation.”
The Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund will be administered by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, which will appropriate donations directly to UNICEF. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is one of 37 national committees that serve to educate, advocate and fundraise for UNICEF in industrialized countries.
The Clinton Foundation and UNICEF are also partners in the global effort to combat HIV/AIDS. In 2004, the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative joined with UNICEF and the World Bank and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to make lower cost medicine and diagnostic tests more available in the developing world.
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, businesses, foundations and individuals. UNICEF has 37 national committees that serve to educate, advocate and fundraise for UNICEF in industrialized countries.
The Clinton Foundation (www.clintonfoundation.org) works to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. To accomplish this mission, the Foundation focuses its work in four critical areas: economic empowerment; health security, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS; racial, religious and ethnic reconciliation; and citizen service and leadership development. The Foundation works principally through partnerships with like-minded individuals, organizations, corporations, and governments, often serving as an incubator for new policies and programs. Former President Clinton established the Foundation and advances its mission by using his public and private networks to initiate research, dialogue and action.