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Tap Project taps restaurant patrons for clean water

Restaurant patrons in 16 U.S. cities are invited during World Water Week to donate $1 for each glass of water to help UNICEF provide safe drinking water to people around the world. A UMNS photo illustration by Ronny Perry.

A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*

March 19, 2008

Pay $1 for a glass of tap water in some U.S. restaurants during World Water Week and provide clean, safe water for a child for 40 days.

Inadequate access to clean drinking water is the second largest killer of children under age 5, according to UNICEF, sponsor of the Tap Project, a campaign to raise money to confront the growing global water crisis.

Launched last year in New York City, nearly 300 restaurants invited diners to pay $1 for the tap water that they normally enjoy for free. The revenues were donated to UNICEF programs improving drinking water for children around the world.

A server in a New York City restaurant pours a glass during Tap Water 2007. A UMNS Web-only photo by David Heithold, UNICEF.

During the week of March 15-22, the 2008 Tap Project is expanding to involve more than 1,000 restaurants in 16 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Portland, Ore., Richmond, Va., San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and, in South Carolina, Charleston, Columbia and Greenville.

The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the church's social action agency, is collaborating with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF for the 2008 Tap Project. Currently, UNICEF provides access to safe water and sanitation facilities while promoting safe hygiene practices in more than 90 countries. By 2015, UNICEF's goal is to reduce the number of people without safe water and basic sanitation by 50 percent.

The U.N. General Assembly started World Water Day in 1992 to draw attention to the plight of people without access to safe drinking water. Approximately one in six people worldwide lack access to improved water supply, the United Nations reports.

This year's observance is scheduled for March 22 under the theme of the "Year of Sanitation." The goal is to accelerate progress for 2.6 billion people worldwide without proper sanitation facilities.

Clean water for all

While water is the most basic element on earth, more than 1.4 million children around the world die from diseases related to poor water quality or access to sanitation each year, according to UNICEF. The problem also affects developing nations.

"Forty-four states in the U.S. have issued advisories warning residents to reduce or avoid consumption of fish caught in lakes and streams because of high levels of toxic mercury," said John Hill, director of economic and environmental justice for the Board of Church and Society.

The United Methodist Church, in its Book of Resolutions and Social Principles, affirms that "water is a basic human right to be shared and enjoyed by all God's people."

"Water is an integral part of God's radical expression of God's love to all humanity," states Resolution 13. "Water cannot be monopolized or privatized. It is to be shared like air, light and earth. It is God's elemental provision for survival for all God's children together on this planet."

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn. Information for this report was provided by Joe Kim, program associate, United Nations Office, United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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