Saturday, July 28, 2007

Water, Education, and American Express: priorities...

Just this morning I received an email from an old (I should say long-time) friend of mine suggesting I vote for the DonorsChoose project for education at the Amex Members Project contest here:

Members Project

She positioned DonorsChoose as the "David" and the UNICEF Children's Safe Drinking Water Project as the "Goliath," as does a recent interesting NY Times article here. My response to her (and to the dozens of other friends she had included in her To: line (most always a bad idea) was that Yes, UNICEF is large, but the word"Goliath" unjustly positions the Amex contest as a David vs. Goliath battle which fails to account for the real beneficiaries of both projects: children who either die from unsafe water or do not receive an adequate education.

Unsafe water is the #1 killer of children throughout the developing world. Period. Bad water kills five times as many kids as HIV/AIDS, twice as many as malaria. Period. More germane to this conversation: Without safe water, girl children in particular will not have the opportunity to enroll in school (they spend their childhoods either sick and hauling 45 pound buckets of dirty water on their heads). If their schools do not have single-gender sanitation facilities, they will drop out of school once they start menstruating and lack privacy. Safe water is in many cases the single biggest determinant of whether or not a girl receives an education.

For more information on the water/education nexus:

Water and Sanitation: The Education Drain (WaterAid)

The Education Millennium Development Goal: What Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Can Do

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education for Schools - Oxford Roundtable Statement

UNESCO – Focusing Resources on Effective School Health

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