Unicef water pledge wins mass on-trade support

Hannah Oakman10 Apr 2008 (Updated 1 Feb 2009)

More than 2,000 food and beverage outlets across the US have joined the Tap Project to help Unicef provide clean water to children around the world.

More than 2,000 food and beverage outlets across the US have joined the Tap Project to help UNICEF provide clean water to children around the world.

The grassroots initiative - which invites individuals to donate US$1, or more, for the tap water they normally get for free at participating restaurants - was recently launched by UNICEF Ambassadors Lucy Liu and Marcus Samuelsson at an event hosted by Esquire Magazine in New York.

"This week tap water is the toast of New York City and almost two dozen other cities as Americans raise their glasses to help save children's lives," said Lucy Liu. Fresh from a trip to Cote d'Ivoire to see first hand the threat to child survival caused by the lack of access to clean drinking water, Lucy said a little can go a long way to provide children with what they need to survive.

Thousands of New Yorkers and 300 restaurants took part in the first Tap Project on 22 March 2007, raising over $100,000. This year, the US Fund for UNICEF is engaging communities by mobilising volunteers nationwide with the goal of raising awareness of the Tap Project and recruiting restaurants to participate in the initiative. So far, more than 1,900 volunteers have signed up to recruit restaurants and promote the Tap Project.

To date, more than 2,000 restaurants in 39 states have signed on to participate during World Water Week, with a goal to raise US$1 million.

More than one billion people do not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation and one in five of them are children. Eighty percent of all illness and infant mortality is due to waterborne disease. Lack of clean water is the second largest killer of children under five.

UNICEF works in more than 90 countries around the world to improve access to safe water and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and to promote safe hygiene practices. Over the past 15 years, more than a billion people gained access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities. UNICEF's goal is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2015.