Clinton Joins UNICEF to Fund Safe Water for Tsunami Survivors

NEW YORK, New York, January 12, 2005 (ENS) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy Monday launched a $45 million joint initiative to bring safe drinking water and sanitation systems to children and families affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund, a joint project of the Clinton Foundation and UNICEF, will strengthen UNICEF’s efforts to prevent the spread of water borne diseases in tsunami ravaged areas. More than 150,000 people lost their lives, and some five million are homeless in 11 Asian countries as a result of the December 26 earthquake and tsunami.

"Clean water is, of course, the source of all life; without it, people cannot survive," President Clinton said. "And sanitation is essential if we are to avoid the spread of disease in communities made vulnerable by the damage caused by the tidal forces that struck them so suddenly just two weeks ago. We ought to try to raise another $45 million for this purpose alone," he said.

Clinton said he and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a New York Democrat, made the first contribution, the amount of which was not revealed.


Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton met with religious leaders and tsunami relief workers at the New York Buddhist Vihara in Queens, where they were joined by chief monk Kurunegoda Piyatissa, Congressman Gary Ackerman and New York City Councilman David Weprin. (Photo courtesy Office of Senator Clinton)
“I applaud President Clinton for this extraordinary philanthropic leadership,” Bellamy said, launching the fund at a press conference at UNICEF House in New York with the former president.

The region affected by the tsunami is home to many of the world’s poorest children, many of whom were living without access to safe water and sanitation even before the waves hit. Now weak and malnourished by repeated bouts of diarrhea and other water and sanitation related illnesses, they have little strength to rebuild their lives.

“Safe water is a key to sustainable development,” Bellamy said. “Children cannot grow up healthy and strong and communities cannot thrive without safe water and sanitation.”

The fund will enable UNICEF to continue and expand its provision of safe water, water purification tablets and household water kits containing water containers, soap and buckets for washing to millions of people affected by the tsunami. It will finance the construction of emergency latrines and the rehabilitation of urban and rural water supply systems, with a priority for hospitals, health centers and schools, as well as provide equipment to construct basic sanitation facilities.


UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy (Photo courtesy Clinton Foundation)
Between $20 and $50 can pay for the construction of one emergency temporary latrine. Approximately $100 will cover the costs of building a durable family latrine with a five year life span for five people. Roughly $1,000 will cover the construction costs, excluding heavy tools, to rehabilitate one hand dug well that could provide 20 liters of water per day for approximately 200 to 500 people.

Once immediate life threatening humanitarian needs are met, the Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund will help the affected governments with longer term management of water supply and sanitation systems, including such things as well digging and permanent latrine construction, especially in schools and health centers. The fund will also support hygiene education and promotion in schools and community groups.

The Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund will be administered by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, which will appropriate donations directly to UNICEF. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is one of 37 national committees that serve to educate, advocate and fundraise for UNICEF in industrialized countries.

People interested in donating to the Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund can access it via the Clinton Foundation website,, as well as at Donations can also be made by calling toll free 1-866-725-9849.

The Clinton Foundation and UNICEF are also partners in the global effort to combat HIV/AIDS. In 2004, the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative joined with UNICEF and the World Bank and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to make lower cost medicine and diagnostic tests more available in the developing world.

The Clinton partnership with UNICEF for tsunami relief is a response to and a part of the nationwide fundraising initiative launched last week by U.S. President George W. Bush and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton.


Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton film a public service announcement encouraging the American people to make cash donations to the tsunami relief effort through in the White House Library Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005. (Photo courtesy )
The two former presidents recorded a public service announcement at the White House January 5 urging people to give whatever they can afford to the tsunami relief effort.

Around the world, governments and schoolchildren, union workers and entertainers are raising money for the tsunami survivors.

The United Nations already has concrete commitments from 18 countries that will supply $717 million out of its $977 million appeal made on January 6 in Jakarta, Indonesia at a donors conference.

Jan Egeland, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and UN emergency relief coordinator, said, "For me this was a very important and very encouraging conference. We had some 70 nations inscribed, all had something very concrete to contribute, small or big, or they were affected countries that could confirm that they are there to not only use all their national resources in the emergency phase and in rehabilitation and reconstruction, but they are also going to stay with us in the long haul in coordinating with us and facilitating our international assistance."

At least $4 billion in relief funds has now been raised.

Some of the countries with the largest pledges like Germany, the United States, and Sweden said that the private sector is matching their enormous grants said Egeland, who expressed his hope that private contributions would be counted in the billions of dollars for the emergency effort and also for the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort.

A long and growing list of world famous Canadians will participate in a live national benefit broadcast event on CBC Television on Thursday evening in support of ongoing relief and long-term rebuilding efforts in Asia.

Marquee names who will appear on the show include Celine Dion, Rush, Oscar Peterson, The Tragically Hip, Mike Myers, Anne Murray, Bryan Adams, Wayne Gretzky, Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn, Dr. David Suzuki, and Alex Trebek.

Proceeds collected through the CANADA FOR ASIA benefit broadcast will go to the unprecedented partnership of World Vision, The Canadian Red Cross, UNICEF, Oxfam Canada, Care Canada, Save the Children Canada, Development and Peace and Oxfam Quebec.

From Toronto, OMNI Television said its fundraising appeal this past weekend, in partnership with Canadians for Tsunami Relief raised more than C$1.2 million due to a government of Canada's dollar-for-dollar donation matching program. Donations will be directed to Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.