The Rotary Club of Burien/White Center is the sponsor and recipient of a large Rotary International matching grant for a project in the remote Ballia region of India. Residents there have suffered lifelong health issues due to the presence of arsenic in the water, which is naturally occurring from its source in the Himalayas. The grant funds a â€œsafe waterâ€ sustainable water filtration system using local suppliers and tradesmen. The grant process began over a year ago. Fundraising partners include 6 Rotary Clubs, 2 Rotary Districts, Rotary International and 43 private outside donations. Advising partners in this endeavor include Ballia Rotary, World Vision, Ballia Womenâ€™s College and Leaders in Making Change. Rotarians traveled to India in the fall of 2017 to connect with the Rotary Club of Ballia and create a manageable plan that involves local villagers which will create a sense of ownership and the capability of maintaining the water filtration system – this is a crucial aspect in sustainability. Partnership between The Rotary Club of Burien/White Center and Ballia Rotary in India began because inquisitive and caring people saw a need and looked for solutions. Seven other Rotary Clubs from the Pacific NW Region have joined this effort to reduce arsenic in the drinking and cooking water of local villages and ultimately provide “safe water” for over 7000 residents in the remote Uttar Pradesh Province of India. It is a sustainable project that can be maintained and enhanced through local efforts. The plan developed by the Burien and Ballia Clubs includes:
- Mitigation: A replicable village-based water system which will be sold at 25% of the cost of commercially available bottled water. Funds will be used to pay filter operators, maintain equipment and create additional jobs;
- Testing: Systematic testing of tubewells and filters to ensure quality control. Families most in need will be identified and the Field Office employees will continue to document the problem and the success of the solution being implemented.
- Continued education and outreach to raise awareness of the consequences of contaminated water will be on-going. A network of individuals and residents of the villages have dedicated themselves to resolving the problem. The Host Rotarians have pledged to participate in on-going visitations to the sites, provide a monthly accounting to Burien/White Center and other project partners. These include, village governing councils, local businesses and government leaders. Over the three year timeline of the project a key component will be to gather evaluation and monitoring data, support the field office that provides the daily operation and encouraging the hiring and training of locals to sustain the on-going operation of the project.