Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Federal Development Minister Dirk Niebel congratulate WASH United on receiving the silver Global Sports Forum Award 2011 at the Global Sports Forum in Barcelona on 9 March:
“We are very pleased at the honour bestowed upon WASH United. The German Government helped initiate WASH United and has provided it with support. This initiative offers a clear example of how much can be achieved when partners from different parts of society come together to work on behalf of development and human rights. We hope that this award will draw even more attention to the vital concern that we share: improving the worldwide provision of drinking water and sanitation.”
In the fictitious sports club WASH United, football stars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba campaign to implement the human right to clean drinking water and sanitation.
More than 100 organizations in eight African countries – from governmental agencies to local initiatives – work with the sports-based WASH United approach. Linking the issue of sanitation and hygiene – which remains taboo in many countries – to the positive image of football and its stars makes it possible to campaign successfully for lifesaving hygienic measures such as hand washing.
WASH United claims it has already reached more than 25 million people in Africa. In Burkina Faso the WASH United approach is currently being incorporated into the national primary school curriculum.
The initiative addresses one of humanity’s most urgent challenges: nearly 900 million people around the world have no access to clean drinking water, while 2.6 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. This causes the death of a child every 20 seconds. Each year diarrhoeal diseases result in the loss of over 400 million school days, robbing children and young people of opportunities for education, health and development.
The German Government, which was the driving force behind the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council’s 2010 recognition of access to drinking water and sanitation as a human right, is working around the world for the practical implementation of this right. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, roughly 30 million people will gain access to drinking water and sanitation by 2015 as a result of German support.