A climb to conquer the water crisis

Photo: iStockphoto.com/Claudiad
Ben Mulroney leads Canadian team in Kilimanjaro Climb for Life

Adventure for a cause

Without water, life would not exist. Yet today, one billion people—or a sixth of our world’s population—lack access to clean and safe drinking water. More than twice that many, 2.5 billion people, live without basic sanitation. In developed countries, we take access to safe water for granted, but the water and sanitation crisis is the most fundamental problem in the developing world, and the leading cause of sickness. At any given time, about half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water- and sanitation-related diseases.

While the issue may seem daunting, one group of dedicated individuals isn’t waiting around for a magic cure. From October 12 to 27, 2012, 23 climbers from across Canada will climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the global water crisis, in celebration of WaterCan’s 25th anniversary. The ultimate African climbing destination, Mount Kilimanjaro towers almost 20,000 feet above sea level. Their climb is without a doubt an immense physical challenge, but more important, it’s a chance to inspire and educate others, and to help positively change lives forever.

Meet the climbers

The Kilimanjaro Climb for Life team features an impressive roster. Ben Mulroney, host of CTV’s eTalk and WaterCan’s new national ambassador, is leading the group. He’ll be joined by notable team members such as Kerry Freek, editor-in-chief of Water Canada magazine; Chris Hilkene, president of the Clean Water Foundation; and Tyler and Alex Mifflin, co-hosts of  TVO’s The Water Brothers. Thomson Safaris, voted one of National Geographic’s Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth, is leading the expedition. Already, the team has raised $130,000 – far surpassing its goal of $100,000. The money will support WaterCan’s Challenge 2012 Campaign goal of raising $625,000 and giving an additional 25,000 people clean water for life.

WaterCan: Fighting global poverty

WaterCan is a leading Canadian charity dedicated to helping the world’s poorest obtain access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene education. They help bring water and sanitation issues to the forefront and ensure they remain important priorities for Canadians. The organization works in partnership with indigenous organizations in eastern Africa to support small-scale, community-driven projects. Presently, WaterCan is focusing its efforts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Since 1987, its programs have helped over 1.2 million people in the world’s poorest regions.

Proceeds from the Kilimanjaro Climb for Life will be directed to WaterCan’s three programs: Clean Water for All, Clean Water for Schools and Clean Water for Health.

Be a part of the movement

Everybody on this planet is entitled to clean, safe water and basic sanitation. The good news—that’s obtainable, and you can help. Make a donation online to support the inspirational efforts of the Kilimanjaro Climb for Life team, text H20 to 45678 to make a one-time $10 donation, or follow the climbers’ journey through photos, videos and podcasts. You can also donate to the fantastic organizations that are helping to solve water and sanitation issues, such as WaterCan, the Clean Water Foundation, the WaterLife Foundation or Water for People.

The United Nations has declared 2005-2015 the International Decade for Action: Water for Life. Learn more about this campaign and how you can get involved, or tell your MP that you care about global water issues and want the Canadian government to help meet the Millennium Development goals, which call for a 50 percent reduction in the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. The fight against global poverty begins here—only after people have access to clean, safe drinking water and sanitation can they make way for improvements in education, gender equality, economic growth and more.

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Kilimanjaro Photo: istockphoto.com/DavorLovincic