Today is World Toilet Day. It may not be considered a polite dinner conversation topic, but ensuring access to clean water and sanitation facilities like latrines is one of the most important global public health issues. Thousands in the developing world, primarily children, die every day of preventable water-borne illnesses. People are forced to walk for miles to fetch potable water. When schools don't have clean water or sanitation facilities, many children simply don't show up, especially girls who have reached puberty, and students who do attend tend to find themselves in difficult and unsafe learning environments. This reality is far more disturbing than talking about toilets.

Africare, the African Well Fund and the Batonga Foundation are recognizing World Toilet Day with the launch of a Water & Sanitation project in three schools in Benin. In Benin's commune of Berembeke, less than 30% of students who are enrolled actually attend school, and although Berembeke is a higher-traffic city in Benin for people and goods, the local water and sanitation situation is poor. Cholera and diarrhea are endemic, and the high mortality rate is worsening. The new project will collaborate with the local population to improve clean water access and sanitation in three schools, upgrading the learning environment and enhancing public health in this important crossroads region.

To achieve sustainability, the project will contract with Association pour la Santé et la Médecine Africaine, a local non-governmental organization, and will collaborate with school authorities, students, parents' associations and other local stakeholders. Depending on the specific needs of each school, the schools will be connected to Benin's Rural Water Supply system, and they will receive improved latrine facilities and hand-washing stations. Murals by local artists and education sessions will teach pupils how to keep themselves safe from water-borne diseases, and each school will establish a committee with students and teachers to properly maintain their new infrastructure.

Africare and the African Well Fund have partnered on clean water access projects for more than a decade, and the Batonga Foundation partnered with both organizations on a similar project as recently as 2012 that benefited 630 students across four schools. Water and sanitation are major issues with straightforward solutions. Bring them up tonight at dinner.


November 19 is World Toilet Day, a day recognized by the UN to address a taboo subject - poop!

Lack of improved sanitation is a serious problem, and the leading cause of infections globally. Sanitation and hygiene are critical to in the prevention of diarrhea and yet, according to water.org, only 63% of the world's population has access to improved sanitation. More people have cell phones, than a toilet!

Sanitation projects and hygiene education are an important part of the mission of African Well Fund. We are asking our supporters to help draw attention to this important issue by using your cell phone to text at least 2 friends the following message:

More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.
Nov 19 is World Toilet Day
Help spread awareness by texting this to 2 friends
www.africanwellfund.org

Please join us in this campaign to help spread awareness of this important issue.

And check back on Nov. 19th for an exciting new project announcement!

by Devlin Smith

Earlier this year, members of the Alpha Delta Lambda sorority at Union College in Schenectady, New York, took a handmade well and bucket around campus to educate their classmates about the global water crisis. In the process, the members of the philanthropy-focused sorority raised over $200 for the African Well Fund.

ADL Philanthropy Chair Kylie Gorski shared why ADL wanted to raise money for AWF, the impact the fundraiser had on the sorority and how to raise awareness for important causes on a college campus.

Why did you want to fundraise for AWF?
We wanted to fundraise for the AWF not only because it is a worthy cause and a trustworthy organization, but it would give our organization the chance to expand the help we do from local and national to international.

Can you share more about the changes you and your sisters have made in your daily routines after learning about the global water crisis?
We have all made personal strides to conserve our water use with the help of our sisters who are majoring in environmental studies. Most of our sisters now use reusable water bottles in an attempt to stop treating water as a sell-able product. We are thinking of engaging in the Water Project's water challenge [drinking only water for two weeks and donating the money you saved on drink purchases to a water organization] and encouraging the campus to do so sometime next term. There has also been talk of donating the money we raise from our annual, non-negotiable car wash (which uses a lot of water) to the AWF in an attempt to even-out our carbon footprint, in a sense. We all do simple things as a result of our newfound appreciation for water as a privilege, like shutting off the water when we brush our teeth.

What advice do you have for other college groups that want to support a cause like AWF?
I think the best way to promote an event for the AWF on college campuses, or any event on college campuses, is to be different and to be loud. Shout at people, bring them out of their pre-class haze, stand on tables, sneak into the radio station and use the telecom, be subversive - this is something people should be shocked and surprised by. Wake them up - wear T-shirts, do movie screenings. Work with the system, not within it. And always, always, offer food -- buy Chipotle and they will come.

Why do you believe it's important to support a group like AWF?
It is so, so important to support the AWF! Not only is it important to support other humans in their basic rights (in my opinion, access to clean water should be a basic human right) but it's also a great way to make Americans (and people from other well-developed countries) realize their own privilege and how it can harm others. In the States, particularly the Northeast, water conservation isn't really a concept often thought of. We can get water almost anywhere, at any time: the bookstore, the coffee shop, school hallways for free, public fountains. We can buy water that's filtered through volcanoes in Fiji or streams in Poland. But, women in Africa have to walk miles and miles just to get some water that is even drinkable. People should support the AWF because water is not a product, it's a requirement for life, and it's actually pretty easy to help others gain access to it: so why wouldn't people want to help?


The African Well Fund's 10th annual Got Water? online auction is running through Nov. 10. This year's auction features signed items from celebrities including George Clooney, Travis Barker, Michelle Pfeiffer and Loudon Wainwright III; U2 memorabilia; memorabilia from TV shows including "Community," "Army Wives" and "Drop Dead Diva;" and African jewelry.

AWF has raised over $16,000 through the Got Water? auctions to fund its projects and mission.


The African Well Fund raised $10,379.32 in the 12th Annual Build a Well for Bono's Birthday fundraiser. Over the past twelve campaigns, AWF has raised over $235,000 to fund clean water and sanitation projects in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

This year's fundraiser benefited a community-based water and sanitation project in the Ebo municipality of the Kwanza Sul Province in Angola. Implemented by our partner Africare, the project aims to increase access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation for more than 12,000 people living in these communities.

AWF is extremely grateful to all who took the time to donate, tweet, and share with their friends. A special thanks as well to our friends at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church for hosting a 'U2charist' which brought in over $2000.00 for the campaign.

There is no them- there's only us!

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