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March is Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Month

Per the World Health Organization (WHO), safe water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively known as WASH) are crucial for human health and well-being. Yet, millions of people globally lack adequate WASH services and consequently suffer from/or are exposed to a variety of preventable illnesses. Lack of safe WASH negatively impacts the quality of life and undermines fundamental human rights. Poor WASH services also weaken health systems, threaten health security, and burden economies.

WASH-related diseases and risks are wide-ranging. They include infections transmitted by the faecal-oral route and health impacts from exposures to chemicals and other contaminants in drinking water. WASH-related diseases and risks can be exacerbated by several factors, including climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization or, in the case of antimicrobial resistance, antibiotic use.

In 2016, 1.9 million deaths and 123 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) could have been prevented worldwide with adequate WASH. The WASH-attributable disease burden amounts to 4.6% of global DALYs and 3.3% of global deaths. The burden of deaths among children under five years is 13%.

Safe Drinking Water

Improving access to safe drinking water may involve constructing or improving water supply systems or services such as piped water on-site, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs or rainwater. It should also involve risk assessment and management approaches, such as water safety planning, to ensure the success and sustainability of the improvements put in place. Low-cost strategies to treat and safely store drinking water at the point of use (e.g. filters, chlorine tablets, safe storage containers) can provide an intermediate solution while longer-term infrastructure improvements are being planned and implemented.


A safe sanitation system separates human excreta from human contact at all steps of the sanitation service chain, from safe toilets and containment (in some systems with treatment in-situ) through conveyance (in sewers or by emptying and transport) to treatment and final disposal or end use.

A holistic approach to addressing fecal risks from toilets to safe use or disposal is facilitated through sanitation safety planning. As a household moves away from open defecation towards better sanitation services and ultimately to safely managed systems, the health benefits increase.


Hygiene interventions include promoting hand-washing with soap at critical times. A broader definition may contain food hygiene measures (e.g. washing, covering, cooking and storage of food), environmental hygiene (e.g. cleaning of surfaces), menstrual hygiene, or hygiene interventions specific to the prevention and control of particular diseases (e.g. face washing for trachoma, shoe wearing for soil-transmitted helminths, and animal management for zoonotic diseases).

As part of our club’s contribution to improving water and sanitation in Northern Thailand, we are the host club for Rotary Global Grant GG2233068 "Water and Sanitation in Northern Thailand". Our International Partner Club is the Rotary Club of Fig Garden, California, USA, in Rotary District 5230. Our implementation partner is the Integrated Tribal Development Foundation (ITDF), which has decades of experience in installing gravity-fed water systems and sanitation system installation in villages in Northern Thailand.

This global grant of 330,000 USD will cover three years. Seven villages a year will receive clean water and hygiene facilities (toilets, septic systems, hand washing stations, etc.). Over three years of the grant, twenty-one villages will obtain quality WASH improvements.

This is Rotary doing good in Northern Thailand.


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