By Rhett Butler
“Aussie NGO & Rotary announce doubling of access to clean drinking water in Chinese schools to 500,000 students by 2018”
The SkyJuice Foundation along with its local partner, Rotary clubs of International District 3450, chose World Water Day 2017 to announce that they will double their Safe Water Program in China. Remarkably, they have provided innovative safe drinking water installations for 250,000 students in over 94 schools of Shaanxi Province since 2011.
Under the leadership of District Governor H.W. Fung (2017-2018), Rotary International District 3450 (comprises of Rotary Clubs in Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia and Guangdong Province of the Peoples' Republic of China) has now massively increased its program to double safe drinking water access for 500,000 students. This current announcement will add a further 100 SkyHydrant safe drinking water filtration units by 2018.
This extensive program began with humble beginnings with four pilot projects at separate schools in the Shaanxi Province in 2010 to trial the SkyHydrant water filtration system. Two years later, with the success of the pilot projects, the local Rotarians raised US$350,000 and 96 clean units were installed into 96 different regional schools in Weinan and Tungchuan perfecture of Shaanxi province.
Another 100 schools in remote villages near Yan’an City, which is in the far western fringe of Shaanxi province, have been selected where SkyHydrant filter units will be installed and commissioned before the end of 2018.
Many of China’s regional populations are still sourcing drinking water from unsafe sources. However, this is changing. Supported by the Central government, motivated and generous Rotarians in China have partnered with a dedicated nonprofit organisation in Australia to explore possible paradigm shift solutions to these pressing issues.
China, along with many other countries, has an unmet need for safe water. So it is timely to reflect on World Water Day 2017, that dirty unsafe drinking water is still a global problem. Incredibly, over 478 million children globally are lacking access to clean drinking water.
More alarming is that at least 4,000 children globally die each day, and over 50% experience extended absences from school, due to water related illnesses. It’s no wonder that 1.2 million Rotarians around the world have chosen to provide clean water and sanitation as one of their six major areas of service. Rotarians in D3450 are tackling this challenge “head on” and are leading by example. Other groups such as Rotary WASRAG are an important “first stop” for Rotary Clubs embarking on water and sanitation projects
“Safe Water for Every Child” is the mantra of the SkyJuice Foundation. It is an Australian non-profit organisation based in NSW. It has long partnered with Rotary clubs from D3450 to supply innovative SkyHydrant water filter systems. The Rotary team arranges installation commissioning and ongoing support with local authorities and communities. Each of these Australian membrane filtration units provides a daily sustainable and affordable water capacity in excess of 15,000 litres of clean water. They use no chemicals or electricity to produce clean safe water.
Past Rotary Club Presidents Albert Poon and Solomon Lee and Past District Governor Kenneth Wong, have demonstrated the practical application of technology can dramatically impact on the Sustainable Development Goals by adopting a “change in thinking”, where disruptive technology solutions can have immediate and practical impact. Past District Governor, Kenneth Wong said ” Rotary has demonstrated globally that its members and clubs can tackle big issues and get outstanding results where others struggle. Rotary’s global efforts on Polio eradication are an example. Our District saw the immediate potential of this unique SkyJuice technology. School-by-school, village-by-village, clean water is doable, now. We hope others will follow our lead”. Their efforts and passion are inspiring.
The future is bright for students and teaching staff in China. Each of the schools involved have taken responsibility of the daily operation and maintenance of the water filtration systems. Importantly, the local education authority has agreed to provide supervision to the schools. This is a co-operative partnering model that the SkyJuice Foundation facilitates globally.
You can read more about clean water projects around the world at www.SkyJuice.org.au.