Working together to make a difference
Like Rotary clubs everywhere, New Zealand Rotarians serve communities around the world.
Rotary New Zealand's projects
Rotary New Zealand's projects are focussed mainly on
- the relief of poverty, hunger, sickness, and/ or the provision of emergency assistance to people affected by war and natural disasters
- the economic development of developing countries (recognised as such by the United Nations) which may involve raising educational standards, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, disease prevention and health programmes, conflict resolution, and promoting equality for the marginalised such as women
Projects are varied and involve responding to emergencies and/or supporting development projects.
For example, New Zealand Rotarians helped Cantabrians after the Christchurch earthquake - a New Zealand emergency that we supported due to its severity and scale. We've assisted Pacific nations affected by natural disasters and with many other projects such as fitting solar panels to 5 schools in Fiji and renovating and equipping a library in Samoa. Further afield, we've supported income generating initiatives, built schools and funded education programmes in Tanzania and Uganda. In Nepal we've helped remote villages improve water quality, sanitation, horticulture, farming and education.
Projects are assessed for support based on a number of criteria. For instance, the community that requires assistance must be fully committed to the project. It must be sustainable, put simply, it should eventually be able to run on its own thus making the donor redundant. A sustainable project is one that respects local culture and makes smart use of resources, thus limiting impacts on the environment. It also favours equal partnerships and strives to give everyone in the community including women and children and other vulnerable members the same opportunities as the majority. There should be a focus on skills transference; together with Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA), we're active in the recruitment and placement of skilled volunteers who provide leadership and expertise where it's lacking among the target community.
A recent project
Improving the lives of Himalayan villagers
For most villagers in a remote part of Himachal Pradesh, life is a struggle. There is no water within their villages and no toilets. The people are mostly of the 'scheduled caste' and have to make do with less than NZ$1.50 per day. With little education, no health education, poor land and land management skills, there seemed little hope for the villagers to improve their lives - until a group of development agencies banded together to help.
Working with a local non-government organisation, the Rural Centre for Human interests (RUCHI), Rotarians from New Zealand and elsewhere have focussed on giving these villagers access to a sustainable water supply and better sanitation. It's been a major undertaking. Funding for the first step - to build a dam on a stream near the village of Bandh - was secured in 1995 by a group of New Zealand Rotarians working with the Rotary Club of Kasauli; they obtained a Rotary Foundation Grant. For the first time, villagers in Bandh had water for 12 months of the year.
The project has since expanded to include the concept of a 'Rainwater Harvesting Village'. The chosen village was to be a model for future projects. It was successfully completed with support from a number of clubs, Rotary New Zealand and a New Zealand Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Grant. The villagers were provided with gutters, water tanks, washrooms, household toilets, effluent pits, training for a 'community health motivator''. Other projects were introduced too - immunisation, health education for women and children, kitchen gardens, composting, training in farm management, environmental education and 'microbanking' (providing small loans to people).
Two more 'Rainwater Harvesting Villages' have since been finalised and a major project is currently in the pipeline that will provide sustainable outcomes for 30 villages and 10,000 people.