While studying abroad in Panama, Stuart Powell noticed that residents had to get water from a pump in the central part of town.
Powell, a junior biology major, said this experience made him realize how he takes his access as a given.
“We bathe in clean water every day, but there are some people that can’t drink clean water. I can easily go to a water fountain and get water for free,” he said. “We take it for granted, but it’s something that is a serious problem.”
Tap events this weekTuesday: Three panelists will speak about water infrastructure and its effects on health at 7:30 p.m. in Howell 104.
Wednesday: Mention UNICEF at Ham’s and receive a 10 percent discount. UNICEF will receive 25 percent of the sales.
Saturday: All proceeds at Players from 9 to 11 p.m. go directly to UNICEF. Tickets will be on sale in advance in the Pit for $5 or $6 at the door.
In response, Powell and a team of students have teamed up to fight against waterborne diseases — one dollar at a time.
The UNC branch of UNICEF will host a fundraiser and other events today through Saturday as part of World Water Week. The group aims to raise awareness of water issues and raise money to help bring safe water to those in need.
To raise money, the group has arranged for three local restaurants to ask patrons all week to donate $1 for any glass of tap water that would usually be free. The dollar will then be donated to the UNICEF cause.
“One dollar gets 40 days of clean water for a child in the developing world,” said junior biology major Bobby Nieland, co-president of UNC’s UNICEF group.
The UNICEF Tap Project was originally founded in New York City but has since expanded to other locations.
Local restaurants Cypress on the Hill, Mediterranean Deli and Southern Rail will participate in the project.
“Everybody needs clean drinking water. That’s the main reason we got involved with the project,” said Karl Ritz, Southern Rail director of operations. “I think all the restaurants should get involved with it. It’s a very worthwhile project.”
Nieland said more restaurants could have participated, but UNICEF does not have enough club members to train the staff of more restaurants on how to approach customers about donations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 884 million people worldwide do not have access to a decent water source. Improved water, sanitation and hygiene have the potential to prevent 6.3 percent of all deaths globally.
“Clean water is absolutely crucial,” Nieland said. “It’s just one of the huge building blocks. It’s the one resource you need the most of.”
Nieland also said waterborne illnesses are the second-leading killer of children in the world.
UNICEF will host a clean water panel Tuesday. Three speakers will discuss water infrastructure and its health effects.
All three panelists have been working to address water sanitation issues in the Rogers Road community over the past few years, where some residents might be drinking contaminated water because of their proximity to a landfill.
“They’re going to be able to give a very relevant local perspective on how people become disadvantaged when it comes to clean water access,” said Laura Thompson, a senior international studies major who helped gather the panel.
Powell said the group hopes to expand the event to more restaurants in future years.
“I hope we have strong support from the students and the Chapel Hill community so we can make this an annual event,” Powell said.
“Restaurants usually give out water for free, but this week customers should pay for the water to make them realize how important it is.”
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.