Posted by DG Alex Nyaga
Happy New Month Family of Rotary!
March is Water Hygiene and Sanitation month; a particularly significant theme for all of us here in Sub Saharan Africa.  According to the World Food Programme (WFP), we are experiencing the driest conditions recorded since 1981, with severe drought leaving an estimated 13 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia facing severe hunger in the first quarter of this year. The situation in South Sudan is not much different, with food insecurity reaching the most extreme levels since independence.
As a result, over 3,000 children die every day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water, and millions others from preventable waterborne diseases caused by unhygienic sanitation.  Most of us have experienced first hand, the problems that come as a result of this, as we either come from, or have direct ties with communities afflicted.  We have a front seat to the poverty, illness, conflict and effect on education caused by this imbalance.
This is why providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) solutions is a priority for us. This is the biggest focus area in our District, as almost all our clubs are involved in one WASH project or another - from the construction of boreholes, toilets, and water tanks to menstrual hygiene solutions and fighting diseases initiatives - we are hard at work in this area. 
When the Rotary Club of Nakuru received one of the largest global grants in our district, they did it with purpose in mind; to transform the lives of 5,000 beneficiaries.   The plan was to empower the afflicted to get out of poverty, by providing equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, improved sanitation and waste management, and training on hygienic practices. This involved enabling rainwater harvesting for 700 families, construction of 700 water tanks, and the growth of 700,000 new trees.


Similarly, The Rotary Club of Nairobi-Lang’ata implemented a WASH project that transformed the lives of over 12,000 beneficiaries in the Olomayiana community in Kajiado County.  This included the supply of clean and purified water, menstrual hygiene solutions, construction of a solar-powered borehole, installation of water tanks and a smart water dispensing system via a water kiosk. Because of this project, a child will live to adulthood, a girl will have uninterrupted education and families will get a chance to sustain themselves.

There are a lot more examples of the exemplary WASH projects that your clubs are continuously effecting every day in our society. As Rotarians, we seek to ensure that all people have adequate access to clean and safe water and I laud all your efforts to spread the One Love through the WASH narrative

There are a few things we can do to make our WASH projects more impactful;

First, the sustainability of the project is crucial. Participant engagement goes a long way to make our stakeholders feel seen and heard. For RC Nakuru, they achieved this by employing a relationship with the Rotary Community Corps (RCCs), as well as coming up with a cost-sharing agreement with the beneficiaries. The latter, make a contribution to the water tank construction by supplying locally available materials, workforce, constructing a working toilet, planting 100 trees, and attending ongoing training provided by the club.  This show of commitment enables them to fully own and be actively involved in the long-term sustenance of the project.
Secondly, the power of partnerships cannot be accentuated enough, as it allows us to DO MORE. We as People of Action activate and inspire others, and allow them to be part of the change. We have what it takes to be the first choice of similar-minded people and organizations. These partnerships with other Rotary clubs, with local and national governments, NGOs and the private sector, allow us to have bigger and more impactful projects. For their project, RC Nairobi-Langata partnered with the Kenya Defense Forces, Vitol Foundation and the Rotary Clubs of Braemar and Hong Kong North Point.
During the Global Handwashing Day in October, our district also partnered with Unilever and PZ Cussons to provide soap to 60 schools around Kenya, which saw 40 clubs participate and 50,000 students benefit directly from the initiative. Davis & Shirliffe provided 15 hand wash stations to 6 clubs, and are continuing to give another 65 to reach 60 schools this year. 
Thirdly, WASH projects allow us to improve the overall quality of life and touch on other Rotary focus areas, thereby increasing our impact.  Most of our WASH projects are in schools and surrounding communities, and inadvertently economically empower the beneficiaries, fight disease and boost environmental efforts.  Fittingly, this month we observe World Water Day on 22 March.  This will be an opportunity to raise awareness on Rotary’s commitment to provide clean water and sanitation as well as host a Rotary Service Day in your clubs.
Fourth, let us increase our reach by Telling our One Love Stories.  The impact of the work your clubs is doing is immense and it is important that you report it.  Share your project stories and the impact they have had on your beneficiaries, on the Club Runner- Timeline as well as with the mainstream media.
Subsequently, let us also embrace the District’s Loving Classroom Initiative as we go about implementing our WASH projects in schools.  This initiative, which was in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, seeks to provide a proper environment for children to learn by providing WASH solutions and ending violence against children. We have partnered with Loving World Africa to provide an 8-week transformative discourse that will provide your clubs with the curriculum on the loving classroom concept, for implementation in schools in your communities.
Finally, an opportunity to showcase your club’s projects will be available at our upcoming District Conference (Discon) in Diana, Kenya. The event is drawing closer and we are finalizing on preparations for the experience of a lifetime that you do not want to miss out on.  This Discon has been confirmed to be an in-person event, after two years of virtual conferences occasioned the Covid-19 pandemic. If you haven’t already done so, register for the event and take advantage of the district negotiated rates on accommodation here
One Love,
Alex Nyaga,
District Governor 2021/22
District Programs Chair: PP Dr. Janet Macharia +254 728600106
District Rotary Foundation Chair: PDG Peter Mbui +254 733646929
District Stewardship Chair: Protus Lumiti +254 722705556
County WASH Chair KE: Dr. Patrisio Njeru +254 728712718
Country WASH Chair ET: Samson Tesfaye +251 911230842
Safe Return to Schools and Loving Classrooms Initiative:
Dr. Julia Ojiambo +254799744560  / Saum Siraj +254712179851
District Conference: DCA Chair Antoinette Absaloms +254 721602570
Club Runner: Innovation Officer Sam Mwangi +254 722 286505
Timeline Stories:  Communication Officer Caroline Njiru +254 722650978